Brooks: "He was a patriot and we will miss him."
Washington, D.C. -- The Republican Jewish Coalition notes with deep sadness the passing of former New York Mayor Ed Koch.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "Mayor Koch was a passionate and principled leader and an outspoken defender of Israel and the Jewish community. He chose principle over politics and didn't engage in partisan bitterness. In a long and controversial public career, he remained true to his commitment to do what was right for his constituents, his community, and his beloved State of Israel.
Brooks added, "The RJC was honored to work with Mayor Koch over the years. He was a patriot and we will miss him."
Thursday, January 31, 2013
By: RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks
It turns out that Chuck Hagel is a great admirer of President Dwight Eisenhower. Unfortunately, what Hagel most likes about Ike was arguably Eisenhower's least admirable act--his bullying of Israel and his demarche to Britain and France, all in the service of rescuing of Egypt's dictator, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Quotes Jewish leaders' and elected officials' concerns about Hagel's record on Israel, Iran
RJC Urges Senate to Vote No on Hagel nomination
Washington, D.C. (January 24, 2013) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition today released a web ad quoting prominent Jewish leaders and elected officials who have expressed serious concerns about Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense.
The ad, titled "Say 'No' to Chuck Hagel," quotes Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as well as Abe Foxman, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, and the Washington Post editorial board. All of them find Hagel's views and record to be deeply troubling.
The ad urges viewers to call their Senators and ask them to vote "no" on the Hagel nomination.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "Chuck Hagel's record on Israel, on Iran, and on other vital defense issues is cause for real concern. President Obama's choice of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense signals a weakening commitment by the President toward Israel in his second term. We strongly oppose this nomination and we urge members of the Senate to do the same."
Click here or on the graphic below to see the ad:
Background: What They're Saying about Chuck Hagel:
Rep Eliot Engel: "It seems there is some kind of endemic hostility toward Israel, and that's troublesome for me and for a lot of other people... I think in the sensitive post of secretary of defense, those are warning bells, those are red lights." (C-SPAN, 12/21/12)
Sen. Joe Lieberman: "Chuck Hagel has consistently been against economic sanctions to try to change the behavior of the Islamist regime, the radical regime in Tehran, which is the only way to do it, short of war." (CNN, 12/23/12)
Sen. Lindsey Graham: "Chuck Hagel, if confirmed to be the secretary of defense, would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of Israel in our nation's history." (CNN, 1/6/2013)
Abe Foxman: "Chuck Hagel would not be the first, second, or third choice for the American Jewish community's friends of Israel. His record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at worst, very troubling. The sentiments he's expressed about the Jewish lobby border on anti-Semitism in the genre of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and former president Jimmy Carter." (Washington Post, 12/18/2012)
Rabbi Abraham Cooper: "Whatever the context [for Hagel's "Jewish lobby" comments], the shorthand in the Middle East, Europe and online is so far gone. That terminology is really now shorthand for the worst kind of anti-Semitic mindset." (Washington Post, 12/19/2012)
Washington Post editors: "Mr. Hagel's stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term - and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him." (Washington Post, 12/18/2012)
TO: RJC Members
FROM: RJC Legislative Affairs Committee
SUBJ: Tell Your Senators: VOTE "NO" on HAGEL
President Obama has nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. The RJC strongly opposes this nomination because of Chuck Hagel's troubling record on Israel, Iran, and other issues.
* 2013 is the critical year in which we must confront Iran's growing nuclear threat. We must have all options on the table to give the U.S. and its allies the most leverage for preventing the rise of a nuclear Iran. Chuck Hagel has signaled his belief that military force should not be an option for dealing with Iran.
* Chuck Hagel was not a reliable friend of Israel while in the Senate or since. Hagel has spoken disparagingly about Israel's supporters in this country ("the Jewish lobby") and is himself strongly supported by groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now that are far out of the mainstream of the American Jewish community.
* The Secretary of Defense is the official responsible for implementing the close military cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. We need a friend of Israel in that position to keep that vital strategic relationship strong.
* President Obama campaigned as a friend of Israel and as someone supportive of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, despite conflicts with Israeli leaders in the past. Chuck Hagel's nomination is another example of President Obama breaking his promises to the Jewish community.
Call your U.S. Senators and tell them to vote "NO" on Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense.
Information about how to contact your U.S. Senators can be found HERE or by calling 202-224-3121.
Senators are more responsive to their own constituents, so we encourage you to alert friends and family members in other states and ask them to contact their Senators as well.
Some details on Hagel's record can be found here:
RJC: Appointment of Hagel Would Be A "Slap in the Face" for Pro-Israel Americans
RJC: Hagel Nomination Shows Obama's True Intentions with Israel
CBS News: Hagel Nomination Cheers Iran, Worries Israel
The Weekly Standard: Obama, Hagel, and Iran
The RJC is the first major Jewish organization to oppose the Hagel nomination and one of the very few willing to do battle on this important issue. Please support the RJC's efforts with your generous donation by clicking here.
Choice is a blow to U.S.-Israel relations and Obama's relationship with Jewish community
RJC Urges Senate to Vote No on Hagel
Washington, D.C. (January 7, 2013) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition today expressed its strong opposition to President Obama's decision to name former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Hagel's record regarding Israel and his positions on Iran raise serious concerns for Americans who care about Israel and about a strong and effective U.S. policy in the Middle East.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "This nomination is a blow to U.S.-Israel relations, to the President's relationship with the American Jewish community, and to U.S. security in the Middle East. It signals that the President, having been re-elected, will now distance himself from Israel. We believe that when Senator Hagel's weak record is laid on the table, Senators will rightly decline to support his nomination."
The RJC was the first major Jewish organization to go on record as strongly opposing a Hagel nomination. Many others, including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, JINSA, and the Zionist Organization of America, have also signaled their serious concerns about Hagel.
In addition, members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle have expressed their opposition, or withheld their expected support, for their former colleague's nomination.
Background: Excerpts from Chuck Hagel's record
* October 2000: Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.
* November 2001: Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to continue his policy of not meeting with the Yasir Arafat until the Palestinian leader took steps to end the violence against Israel.
* June 2004: Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran's nuclear program at the G-8 summit.
* December 2005: Hagel was one of only 27 Senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.
* August 2006: Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
* August 2006: Anti-Israel group CAIR wrote in praise of Hagel, "Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel..."
* March 2009: Hagel was one of 10 former and current foreign policy officials who signed a letter urging Pres. Obama to open direct talks with Hamas leaders.
* On Iran: Hagel, writing in a May 2006 article for The Financial Times, explicitly ruled out the military option against Iran that Pres. Obama claims to have 'kept on the table.'
Conservative Republicans support Israel by 42 points more than liberal Democrats
Washington, D.C. (January 3, 2013) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) today noted a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press that shows the continuing large gap in support for Israel between Republicans and Democrats.
The poll, taken in mid-December, asked, "In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, which side do you sympathize with more, Israel or the Palestinians?"
The survey confirms the continued existence of a large "Israel gap" between Republicans and Democrats. According to Pew, "There continue to be
stark partisan differences in Middle East sympathies. Conservative Republicans maintain strong support for Israel with fully 75% saying they sympathize with Israel compared with just 2% who sympathize with the Palestinians. By contrast, liberal Democrats are much more divided: 33% sympathize more with Israel, 22% with the Palestinians."
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks stated, "This poll confirms the troubling shift among rank-and-file Democrats, for whom support of Israel is now a minority position. Other polls this past year, as well as the boos from the floor when a pro-Israel resolution was brought before the Democratic National Convention last summer, all point to lower support for Israel among Democrats. The traditional bipartisan support for Israel in Congress and the country is threatened by the leftward shift of the Democratic Party, a shift that increasingly makes it hard for some Democratic leaders to support Israel because of liberal pressure."
Pew poll, December 2012 -- http://www.people-press.org/2012/12/14/public-says-u-s-does-not-have-responsibility-to-act-in-syria/
Gallup poll, March 2012 -- http://www.gallup.com/poll/153092/americans-continue-tilt-pro-israel.aspx
Hagel's Weak Record Cited by Both Parties
Washington, D.C. (December 14, 2012) --The Republican Jewish Coalition today announced its opposition to the potential appointment of former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as Secretary of Defense, citing a long list of actions Hagel has taken that raise alarms about his failure to support Israel.
- August 2006: Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
- October 2000: Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.
- November 2001: Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to continue his policy of not meeting with the Yasir Arafat until the Palestinian leader took steps to end the violence against Israel.
- December 2005: Hagel was one of only 27 Senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.
- June 2004: Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran's nuclear program at the G-8 summit.
- August 2006: Anti-Israel group CAIR wrote in praise of Hagel, "Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel..."
- March 2009: Hagel was one of 10 former and current foreign policy officials who signed a letter urging Pres. Obama to open direct talks with Hamas leaders.
- On Iran: Hagel, writing in a May 2006 article for The Financial Times, explicitly ruled out the military option against Iran that Pres. Obama claims to have 'kept on the table.'
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "Chuck Hagel's statements and actions regarding Israel have raised serious concerns for many Americans who care about Israel. The Jewish community and every American who supports a strong U.S.-Israel relationship have cause for alarm if the President taps Hagel for such an important post. The appointment of Chuck Hagel would be a slap in the face for every American who is concerned about the safety of Israel."
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
By: Noah Silverman, RJC Congressional Affairs Director
A report from Reuters has now confirmed what Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin had discovered last month - that President Obama is considering former Senator Chuck Hagel for a top national security post, likely Secretary of Defense.
Rogin reported that Hagel was "being vetted." Presumably, that vetting process includes consultations with a range of interested parties. And presumably, that includes pro-Israel advocates. Let's hope that anyone on the receiving end of such a query responds forthrightly that for the President to elevate Hagel to a position of trust would be construed as a gesture of indifference - if not outright contempt - toward Jewish Americans and every American who supports a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.
In the past, Jewish leaders have made their concerns about Hagel clear. The last time President Obama had to pick a new Defense Secretary, in 2010, a report by the Washington Jewish Week included red-flag quotes from numerous community sources - including pro-Obama Democrats:
- D.C. Jewish community professional who is in contact with the White House: "I have to think that the mainstream Jewish communal organizations would have meaningful problems with it"
- Washington PAC Director and former AIPAC Executive Director Morris Amitay: "Hagel would be in a position to reinforce the worst aspects of the administration's current Middle East policies, which would be very dangerous for Israel"
- A longtime Jewish political operative: "Given his long, questionable record and the clear problems his nomination would cause -- not to mention the volumes of criticism by other Democrats for his rank hostility to Israel -- it is hard to believe that the White House would want to make such a risky choice at precisely the time we are asking the Israeli to 'trust us' on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict."
- Democratic operative who campaigned for Obama in the Jewish community: "If he was in fact appointed, I would find his appointment difficult to reconcile with my views of the administration."
osts, "including secretary of homeland security, director of national intelligence, and ambassador to China.")
If Obama does end up nominating Hagel for one of these key positions, we'll see if NJDC and other administration-friendly folks in the pro-Israel camp have the integrity to reiterate their concerns.
Republicans Say Gaza Action Justified by 74%-12%
RJC Urges All Americans to Support Israel
Washington, D.C. (November 19, 2012) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) noted a CNN/ORC poll released today showing that 74% of Republicans think that Israel is justified in taking military action against Hamas in Gaza. Across the country, 57% of all Americans believe Israel's actions are justified, with 25% saying the Israeli operation is unjustified.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "At this time, Hamas is launching hundreds of rockets a day against civilian targets in Israel and the IDF is using pinpoint strikes to take out Hamas' weapons capabilities with the least possible harm to the Palestinian civilians among whom Hamas is embedded. The RJC joins with the Jewish community and all friends of Israel in expressing our support for Israel's actions and our fervent hope that Israel's operations against Hamas will bring lasting security to the people of Israel.
"We hope all Americans will rally behind Israel. Regardless of one's politics, now is the time for people in both parties to unite in support of America's only democratic ally in the region - Israel."
The CNN poll also showed that Democrats narrowly believe Israel is justified in its action by 41%-36%.
The RJC conducted phone surveys among Jewish voters on election night, after the polls had closed, to get a feel for how the Jewish community voted this year and whether Israel was an important issue for Jewish voters.
We did three surveys: a 1000-person sample national poll of Jewish voters; a 600-person sample poll of Jewish voters in Florida; and a 600-person sample poll of Jewish voters in Ohio. The full summary and cross tab data from all three polls can be found at the links at the end of this article.
The Obama-Romney race in the Jewish community
In the national RJC poll, which had a margin of error of +/- 3%, we found that 31.6% of Jewish voters chose Mitt Romney and 60.8% chose Barack Obama. (Of the remainder, 1.4% chose a third party candidate and 6.2 % refused to say how they voted.) This number for Jewish support of Romney is in keeping with national media exit polls, which showed Romney getting about 31% of the Jewish vote and Obama getting 69%, a 9-point drop from the 78% of the Jewish vote that Obama received in 2008.
That 32% support for Romney represents a 10-point gain, or a nearly 50% increase in Jewish support, from the 22% that John McCain received in 2008.
An historical view
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "Republicans significantly moved the needle in the Jewish community, in a result that was consistent with what we've been saying for some time about the GOP making inroads in the Jewish community. That trend continues to grow. In fact, the 10-point gain this year is the largest such gain for Republicans since 1972."
Brooks also noted that the historical average of Jewish support for Republican presidential candidates since 1920 has been 23.5% and Romney did considerably better than that benchmark.
Jews and other groups
In a conference call with journalists to discuss the RJC poll results, former White House Press Secretary and current CNN contributor Ari Fleischer made the following points:
• The Republicans saw a decline among other communities, such as Latin voters and younger voters, which means the rise in Jewish support for the GOP presidential candidate in key swing states helped keep the GOP competitive in a tough race.
• The RJC poll results show a legitimate expression of buyer's remorse on the part of Jewish voters. Romney won a higher percentage of the Jewish vote, against a sitting President, than George W. Bush, an acknowledged friend of Israel, won in 2004. (Romney won 32% this year, Bush won 24% in 2004.)
• President Obama carried the election, but he lost about 3 points overall compared to his popular vote tally in 2008, and he lost a few points each among Blacks and young voters, while losing 9 points among Jewish voters.
Role of Israel in voter decisions
Another very noteworthy point from the RJC polls: Israel was an important element in Jewish voter choices this year. Our survey shows that 76.5% of respondents said that Israel was "somewhat important" or "very important" in determining their vote.
This confirmed the RJC's decision to make Israel, along with the economy, a focal point of our outreach efforts. It played a prominent, but not exclusive, role in our TV ads and mailers.
While we are disappointed by the election results, we are encouraged by the rise in Jewish support for the GOP.
The 2012 election marks another data point in the continuing trend of greater Jewish support for the GOP over time. The RJC will continue to educate our community and to advocate in the Jewish community for Republican ideas and policies. We see the rising numbers of Jewish support for Republicans as an example to other Republican constituencies of what is possible with hard work and a meaningful message. If the GOP makes similar gains among Black, Latino, and young voters in future years, Republicans will have strong electoral victories to celebrate.
RJC Exit Poll Results (PDF files)
National survey: Summary Cross tabs
Florida survey: Summary Cross tabs
Ohio survey: Summary Cross tabs