RNC Report Praises RJC Outreach Efforts

Washington, D.C. (March 18, 2013) - The Republican Jewish Coalition released the following statement today:

The Republican National Committee has released its report on how the Republican Party must improve after its 2012 election losses. In the section on outreach to minority groups, the report praises the significant accomplishments of the Republican Jewish Coalition. It states: "One outside group that has been particularly successful at engaging its community and increasing its Republican support is the Republican Jewish Coalition. We should incorporate some of its tactics in our efforts."

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "The RJC is proud and honored to receive this acknowledgement of our hard work. In 2012, a very challenging year for Republicans across the board, the Jewish vote for the Republican presidential candidate jumped almost 50 percent, from 22 percent in 2008 to 32 percent in 2012. That ten-point gain was the largest gain since 1972."

Brooks said, "Republicans have increased their market share in the Jewish community in five of the last six national elections. The RJC believes that our Republican message, coupled with our aggressive and effective outreach and education efforts, will continue to bring the Jewish community into the Republican Party in greater numbers in the future."

See the RNC Growth and Opportunity Project report here:

See the RJC's 2012 exit poll data here:
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Foreign Policy Priorities Must Include Pro-Israel Actions

Thursday, March 14, 2013
By: RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks

The strong ties between the U.S. and Israel find expression in the traditionally bipartisan support for Israel in Congress and in public opinion polls showing that the majority of American voters consistently support Israel and the U.S.-Israel alliance. However, President Obama's relationship with Israel has been rocky; his first term included a series of diplomatic snubs, policy statements, and actions regarding Israel that caused serious concern in the pro-Israel community.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has publicly raised questions about the Obama administration's policies toward Israel in the past. Most recently, we strongly opposed the President's nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, given Hagel's record regarding Israel and Iran. We have also criticized the President for pressuring Israel to halt housing construction in its capital, Jerusalem, his treatment of Israeli leaders, and his administration's failure to stand by Israel consistently in the United Nations and other international forums. Our scrutiny of his policies and our outspokenness will continue, because we believe that how the President conducts his Israel policy is of tremendous importance to America's security.

In the coming year, the RJC plans to focus on three core priorities.

The first is to advocate for full funding for military assistance to Israel. In these difficult economic times, Israel's opponents will try to make the argument that our foreign military assistance to Israel is too much. The facts argue otherwise. The vast majority of that aid comes back to the U.S. in the form of purchases of American technology and equipment, which create jobs here at home. The military and technological cooperation between the two countries is of great benefit to both. Also, given the serious threats Israel faces – Iran's belligerent and genocidal regime, the chaos in Syria and instability in other countries bordering Israel, and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – continued U.S. military aid to Israel, as promised in the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding President Bush put into place in 2007, is essential to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge and maintaining our vital strategic alliance with Israel.

The debate over U.S. policy regarding Iran is another RJC priority. We strongly support enhanced sanctions, increased U.S. diplomatic pressure, and greater international pressure on the Iranian regime. The possibility of a nuclear Iran threatens not only Israel's existence, but also vital American interests and the physical, economic, and political security of our European and Asian allies. President Obama's choice of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary sent an unfortunate message to the Iranians that high-level members of the Obama administration are willing to allow them more time to pursue their nuclear agenda. The U.S. must make it clear to the Iranians that the pursuit of nuclear weapons comes at too high a price to pay.

Finally, the RJC will continue to actively support the efforts of Israel's friends in Congress to strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance. We support the recent Senate resolution authored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which says that if Israel is compelled to take preemptive military action in self-defense against Iran, the United States will provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to Israel. On the House side, a similar measure was authored by the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA). Royce is a steadfast friend of Israel and we anticipate that additional measures to enhance and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship will be considered by the committee.

In the months ahead, the threats to American and Israeli interests will grow unless the United States demonstrates strong, effective leadership. At a time when urgent domestic economic issues are the focus of national attention – and the President seems more concerned with campaigning than problem-solving – foreign affairs may get short shrift. But for the pro-Israel community and all those concerned about our national security, it is clear that what happens in the Middle East will have a profound impact on our future. We must not let partisan fights or other priorities prevent us from maintaining America's strength and our vital alliances in the global arena.
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RJC Grassroots Director Stepping Down; New Director Named

Washington, D.C. (March 13, 2013) - Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks released the following statement today:

"After eleven years with the Republican Jewish Coalition, National Grassroots Director Harris Vederman is stepping down to become the executive director of the America Israel Friendship League, a non-profit pro-Israel organization based in New York. Through Harris's leadership and hard work, he has brought the RJC's grassroots efforts to terrific heights. He led our outstanding community outreach program last year, which trained a record number of Jewish activists in outreach and advocacy. The RJC's effort was extremely successful and was hailed by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as a model for other Republican affinity groups. During his 11-year tenure, Harris has made an invaluable contribution to the RJC; we thank him and wish him well in his new role.

"We are very pleased to announce that Deputy Grassroots Director Alex Siegel has been named the new National Grassroots Director. In his time with the RJC, Alex has shown remarkable creativity, enthusiasm, and dedication to expanding our local events and membership growth. We look forward to much continued success."
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RJC Responds to Hagel Confirmation: Hagel Choice Sends Wrong Message to Our Allies and Adversaries

Washington, D.C. (February 26, 2013) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition released the following statement about today's Senate vote on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense:

We are disappointed that Chuck Hagel's nomination won confirmation from the Senate. Respecting the President's prerogative to name his Cabinet members does not outweigh the Senate's duty to examine nominees and withhold consent from someone who is not qualified for the office.

Chuck Hagel's statements on Israel and the "Jewish lobby" raised serious concerns about his fitness to serve. His views on Iran are also deeply troubling. Hagel's appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee showed that he lacks an understanding of the issues facing our defense forces and national security leaders. And he does not have the experience in running a large and complex organization that would make him an effective secretary of defense.

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "Sadly, we continue to believe that the choice of Chuck Hagel for this post sends the wrong message to the American people, our allies, and our adversaries."
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Hagel Reportedly Said US State Department Under the Control of Israel

RJC: Hagel must respond - before the Senate votes

Washington, D.C. (February 14, 2013) -- The Washington Free Beacon reports that former Senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, allegedly said in a 2007 speech at Rutgers University that, "the [U.S] State Department is an adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister's office."

In response, Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks said:

"This new information shows why Senate Republicans are right to insist that final action on this nomination not be rushed. We need to fully investigate this allegation, and that means Senator Hagel needs to be heard from directly. Did Chuck Hagel really tell this audience - or any audience - that 'the State Department is an adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister's office'? That is what a pro-Hagel blogger, who says he was 'taking notes as [Hagel] was speaking,' reported at the time. It should go without saying that claiming Israel controls our State Department is absurd and outrageous.

"Unfortunately, if true, this is part of a very troubling pattern with Chuck Hagel. Hagel told Aaron David Miller that, 'The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here [in Congress].' In elaborating on that offensive remark, he cast doubt on other government officials' integrity in a way that fits all too well with this newly-reported remark about the State Department, saying, 'I'm not an Israeli senator. I'm a United States senator.' Hagel's weak and ambiguous responses when confronted about these egregious remarks at his nomination hearing were among the low points of an appearance Senator McCain called, 'the worst he had ever seen by a nominee at any level.'

"We continue to believe that America can do better than Chuck Hagel and that the Senate should reject this nomination, but at the very least, Senator Hagel needs to address this report before the Senate can responsibly vote whether to confirm him."

The Free Beacon report is here:
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RJC Mourns Passing of Ed Koch

Brooks: "He was a patriot and we will miss him."

Washington, D.C. (February 1, 2013) -- 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."
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Brooks: Hagel Likes Ike - For the Wrong Reason

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.

"Eisenhower Republican" is not a label enjoying much currency nowadays, but Senator Hagel "means it" when he describes himself that way, according to Washington Post associate editor David Ignatius in a column of January 27. According to Ignatius, Hagel kept a bust of Ike in his Senate office "for more than a dozen years," a portrait of Eisenhower adorns the wall of his current office, and he purchased three dozen copies of the recent book, Eisenhower 1956, to give to, among others, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the man whose former post he hopes to occupy, ex-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Ignatius writes.

The book about Ike, written by David A. Nichols, describes how three of America's staunchest allies, Great Britain, France, and Israel, took military action against a pro-Soviet, terrorism-sponsoring dictator, Nasser--and how Eisenhower forced them to end their operation before they could finish off Moscow's client.

For the West, late 1956 was a grim time, just a few years after the Korean stand-off, and in the midst of the Soviet invasion of Hungary. For Israel, the period preceding the October 1956 Mideast war was an agonizing time, with attacks on southern Israeli border towns by Gaza-based terrorists (not so different from events in our own time), armed and financed by Egypt, claiming the lives of about 250 Israelis between 1949 and 1956, and leaving as many as 1,000 wounded.

One of many incidents that left Israel shaken involved young Moshe Dayan, then chief of staff of the Israeli Army. He visited one of the border kibbutzim, Nahal Oz, in April 1956, and was deeply impressed by the courage and idealism of the pioneers, in particular a young couple whom he met, Ro'i and Amira Rothberg. Two days later, Rothberg was ambushed by terrorists--one of whom doubled as an Egyptian police sergeant--who clubbed him to death and gouged out his eyes. At Rothberg's graveside, a somber Dayan declared, "The longing for peace deafened his ears and he failed to hear the voice of the murderer waiting in ambush."

In Nasser's eyes – as in the eyes of today's Hamas rulers in Gaza – the killers were patriots. "You have proven by our deeds that you are heroes upon whom our entire country can depend," the Egyptian leader declared in an address to a terrorist unit. "The spirit with which you enter the land of the enemy must spread."

Nasser's sponsorship of the Gaza terrorists was only one part of the problem. In May 1955, he signed a huge arms deal with the Soviet Union. Egypt would receive MiG 15 bombers, submarines, antiaircraft guns, artillery, several hundred tanks, and more. Nasser's move overwhelmed Israel's previous military edge over the Arab states, and, given the Egyptian government's oft-declared goal of annihilating the Jewish state, posed a grave threat to Israel.

The British and French, too, were becoming increasingly worried about Nasser, and for good reason. A heavily-armed Soviet surrogate in the heart of the Middle East was an obvious recipe for trouble. Nasser's belligerent speeches and sponsorship of terrorism confirmed fears in London and Paris that the Egyptians were on the warpath. The final straw came in July 1956, when Nasser tore up the Anglo-Egyptian treaty providing for a phased British withdrawal from the Suez Canal (to be completed in 1968) and seized the canal.

Throughout this period, Israel repeatedly appealed to the Eisenhower administration and the United Nations to intervene, to no avail. It became "obvious that [the U.S. and the other Western powers] did not intend to make any effort to uphold Israel's rights," the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Abba Eban, later wrote. Eban recalled "many stormy discussions" with Eisenhower administration officials, who insisted that the Egypt-Soviet arms deal was "more promise than fulfillment."

"Embattled, blockaded, and besieged," as Eban put it, Israel found itself faced with a choice not altogether different from what it faces today with regard to Iran: strike first and risk world condemnation, or wait and risk its very existence. In late October, 1956, the Israelis, the British, and the French undertook a three-pronged strike against Nasser. While the Israelis quickly defeated the terrorists in Gaza and captured the Sinai peninsula, the British and French retook the Suez Canal.

But Eisenhower was furious. Hoping to woo Egypt to become pro-American, and worried about Soviet reaction to the attack, the U.S. president successfully pressured the British and French to withdraw by December. The Israelis, however, were reluctant to leave and face a return to the perils they faced before the war. 'Eisenhower 1956' quotes Ike telling Secretary of State John Foster Dulles: "Foster, you tell 'em [the Israelis], goddamn it, that we're going to apply sanctions, we're going to the United Nations, we're going to do everything that there is so we can stop this thing."

Under this pressure, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion finally withdrew from Sinai and Gaza in March 1957, in exchange for a U.S. promise to secure passage for Israeli ships and the stationing of United Nations peacekeeping forces to prevent Nasser from remilitarizing the Sinai. A decade later, Nasser, still a Soviet client, summarily expelled the UN forces, whereupon the White House claimed it could not find Eisenhower's promise about protecting Israeli shipping. Israel learned a bitter lesson from that experience, a lesson it has not forgotten.

And there is a telling postscript to this story. According to businessman and diplomat Max Fisher, Eisenhower privately remarked to him, in 1965: "You know, Max, looking back at Suez, I regret what I did. I never should have pressured Israel to evacuate the Sinai." Likewise, Richard Nixon told Fisher's biographer, Peter Golden, that Eisenhower said he "regretted" pressuring Israel in 1956 and was convinced he had made "a mistake" in doing so.

Sadly, instead of learning from Eisenhower's admitted error, Senator Hagel seems to adore him for it. The senators at Hagel's confirmation hearing may want to consider the danger that if confirmed as Secretary of Defense, Hagel will be in a position to help repeat history, by influencing the current president to pressure Israel into one-sided concessions and extend a welcoming hand to another generation of Gaza terrorists.

Matthew Brooks is the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
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RJC Releases New Ad: Say "No" to Chuck Hagel

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)
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RJC ACTION ALERT: Tell your Senators - Vote "NO" on Hagel


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.
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Hagel Nomination Shows Obama's True Intentions with Israel

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.'
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