Jewish Republican Leaders Stump for Romney in…Israel
Are the GOP’s supporters anticipating a narrow outcome in the presidential election, like what happened in 2000? A campaign underway in Israel seems to suggest just that.
The group “iVoteIsrael” is trying to encourage the estimated 150,000 U.S. citizens living in Israel to register and vote via absentee ballot in November and has brought in some big guns from the Republican Jewish Coalition to convey the message.
Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks and board member Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George W. Bush, arrived Tuesday in Israel to convince American Jews living there to vote for Mitt Romney. Their first stop was an “iVoteIsrael” event in Jerusalem.
JTA reports the potentially small margins in key battleground states were at the forefront of Fleischer’s message:
“Imagine it’s Nov. 6, you wake up, you don’t vote, you hear we have another razor-thin election,” Fleischer told the crowd. He noted that Israel’s 150,000 [American] Jews are “the size of Dayton, you’re the size of Ft. Lauderdale. You’re a longer plane trip but you’re equally important.”
The Jerusalem Post adds:
“I am a survivor of the 2000 election in the US [that George W. Bush won thanks to 537 votes in Florida],” Fleischer said. “If this race will be equally close, there is a possibility that a large number of absentee ballots coming into Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio can make the difference. It is also important to plant a flag on Israeli soil. Politicians notice a massive boost in voting like there could be here.”
IVoteIsrael contends that few of these expats have taken advantage of their right to vote in U.S. elections, and the group would like to reverse that trend. Its website states:
We – as American-Israelis – are punching WAY below our weight, and we set out to change that equation.
The group calls itself bipartisan and says it will help both Democrats and Republicans living abroad register to vote. It has also invited Democratic speakers to Israel. Its main goal is: “to see a President in the White House who will support and stand by Israel in absolute commitment to its safety, security and right to defend itself.”
Do Israelis believe President Obama is committed to its safety and security?
A recent Jerusalem Post poll showed that while 36 percent of Israelis view President Obama as neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 24 percent view him as pro-Palestinian, while the same proportion view him as pro-Israel. Another way to interpret those numbers is: three-quarters of Israelis do not see the President as being pro-Israel. As Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine pointed out in March when the poll was published:
“…these dismal numbers are actually a vast improvement for Obama over past polls conducted by the same firm.”
In 2009 after President Obama’s Cairo speech, 6 percent of Israelis viewed him as a supporter of Israel, while 50 percent saw him as pro-Palestinian. And last year after he called for a return to 1967 borders, which many Israelis believe leave Israel dangerously vulnerable to attack, 12 percent of Israelis viewed him as pro-Israel. Therefore, any bump in Israel-based participation will likely favor presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney over Obama.
Ha’aretz reports Fleischer told the group in Jerusalem that Obama is forcing Israel to make ‘harmful concessions’:
“I do not ever want to have a president in the Oval Office who will make us scratch our heads and wonder, ‘does he or does he not have Israel’s back,’” said Fleischer, alluding to President’s Obama’s pledge, last March, at the AIPAC Conference in Washington. “I don’t want to have a president in the Oval Office who makes me wonder what next will he do to put pressure on Israel and make Israel make harmful, unwise concessions.”
IVoteIsrael Campaign Director Elie Pieprz told The Jerusalem Post that the group has registered Americans from 45 states living in Israel.
So while for most Americans the overriding election issue is the economy, for a small segment of American voters, U.S. foreign policy is not taking a back seat.
Watch iVoteIsrael’s YouTube video encouraging U.S. citizens living in Israel to register, lest they be called a “frier” in Hebrew. That’s the ultimate insult in Israel, roughly translated as a “sucker.”
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