‘JTA’ reports that as much as 2/3 of Democratic money comes from Jewish donors

Israel/Palestine
on 23 Comments

I admire Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for telling readers that he is a settler in East Jerusalem. Well Kampeas has also been more honest than other reporters about the role of Jewish money in the American political process. Here he says that the battle for Jewish money motivated the Democratic Party to name Deborah Wasserman Schultz as head of the DNC, and that Obama’s recent mild resistance to the Netanyahu government has encouraged Republicans to compete with Dems for big Jewish donors. But Obama and the Dems feel that they can drive a wedge on this issue, in the right-center, and keep Jewish support. When I say right-center, it is because Obama’s shills on this issue include Anthony Weiner, who doesn’t believe there’s an occupation, and because Wasserman Schultz has herself met with rightwing nut Sheldon Adelson. So the issue isn’t really politicized, everyone’s for settlements forever, and this is a backroom money fight. It shouldn’t be in the backroom. You’d think that other journalists would jump in now and explain how rightwing Jewish money has corrupted policy on this issue. By the way the percentage in my headline has been estimated at 60 percent by the Washington Post and, privately to me recently by someone claiming to know, 80 percent. Go figure. Kampeas:


“The White House has a very strong record to defend, and the objectives are misrepresented and in some cases maligned, so yes the White house is pushing back,” said Robert Wexler, the former Florida congressman who was Obama’s chief Jewish proxy during the 2008 campaign.

Wexler wrote one of two pro-Obama Op-Eds in the South Florida Sun Sentinel in recent days. Florida, a swing state with a substantive Jewish population, has been a key Jewish battleground in recent years…

Obama captured 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, and estimates over the years have reckoned that Jewish donors provide between one-third and two-thirds of the party’s money.

…Republicans made clear that they see a new opening now given the “1967 lines” brouhaha.

“We’re stepping up our game with Jewish donors and other potential Jewish supporters that feel like Obama turned his back on them,” an RNC official who is not authorized to speak on the record told JTA.

Obama’s appointment earlier this year of Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee came in part in response to concerns that Republicans were making headway among Jews. Wasserman Schultz also contributed an Obama defense to the South Florida Sun Sentinel over the weekend.

Where the Jews stand on Obama matters not just because of the Jewish vote, which is significant in key swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, but also because of Jewish money. The 2012 presidential election will be the first since a Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate giving to candidates. The Obama campaign has said it will need more money than ever because big business tends to lean Republican.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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23 Responses

  1. Les
    June 8, 2011, 9:31 am

    This needs further fleshing out. If the Jewish head of a media organization gives money to the Democrats the underlings surely know what role is expected by them when dispensing corporate funds to individuals and organizations. Similarly if a big bucks donor gives personal funds to the Democrats, the lobby groups of the donor’s corporation(s), know the score. The same thing goes for charities and non-profits that get money from such people. For example, it’s not really difficult to keep NPR in line.

  2. Kathleen
    June 8, 2011, 9:47 am

    “I admire Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for telling readers that he is a settler in East Jerusalem. ”

    So you admit that you are an illegal occupier oppressor of the Palestinian people. Part of the team stealing their internationally recognized land. And this is to be “admired” Because he admits this crime….of conscience and international law. Really misplaced admiration…. Pathetic

    On the money that Jews give candidates. What can you say they put their money where their mouths are. Does this mean it is a good thing that they buy or threaten our Reps with being bumped if they do not carry water for Israel. Good for US National Security? Good for Israel…don’t think so

    • Bumblebye
      June 8, 2011, 11:16 am

      No, Kathleen – he’s prepared to describe himself AS a settler in EJ, not just as a resident of Jerusalem. Saying so implies recognition of it as occupied territory. Not everybody is that up front about where they’ve chosen to live.

      • annie
        June 8, 2011, 11:40 am

        Saying so implies recognition of it as occupied territory.
        not necessarily, at all. he could consider it ‘disputed’.

        phil’s ‘telling readers’ link is self explanatory.

      • Kathleen
        June 8, 2011, 12:32 pm

        And we should “admire” that

  3. pabelmont
    June 8, 2011, 9:56 am

    Is it at all possible that the “Jewish donors” mentioned in the title are the BIG AIPAC fellas, and that their money has PUSHED OUT or PUSHED AWAY money from other donors who might have another view on Israel, on war, on empire?

    Doe “Jewish donors” include BIG BANKS, BIG OIL, etc., or is that an insignificant part of the democratic fund-raising (and, if so, why were Bush/Obama so quick to “buy” the bailout of the too-big-to-fail banks?) (AIG is different, perhaps).

    • Jeffrey Blankfort
      June 9, 2011, 5:03 pm

      Jewish donors are Jews from every sector of society who have dispensable funds and a political agenda that they care about enough to fund and in abig way. While there are disagreements over domestic issues and even over differences in Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, it is clear and clear, moreover, to Congress, that in the end it is maintaining strong US support for Israel, however criminal its actions, that is what unites them. Moreover, aspiring politicians can even purchase lists of Jewish donors that contain over 800,000 names.

      As I’ve mentioned before and will no doubt mention again because it provides the strongest evidence is the list of the top 400 donors to the presidential elections that Mother Jones ran in 1996 and 2000 which used to be online but which strangely disappeared after I published an article that noted that on its 2000 list, seven of the top 10, 12 of the top 20 and at least 125 of the top 250 were Jewish, which is where I stopped counting.

      Seventy-five percent of their money went to the the Democrats and the remainder to the Republicans. The donors came from every major sector of US society, Wall Street, insurance, banking, real estate, the communications industry, which includes movies, TV, and the press, sports, etc.

      Since the Center for Responsive Politics whose information was the source for the MoJo 400 lists, categorized the donors by industry, the actual figures that represent the Lobby have always been under reported.

      Add to their donations those from the labor unions whose bureaucracy has long been a cornerstone of pro-Israel support, irrespective and without the knowledge of their members and who use their members dues and pension funds to buy Israel Bonds as if they were lottery tickets, you can understand why the Democratic Party seems inevitably willing to put the interests of a miniscule but powerful sector of American society over the needs and interests of their constituents. Until there is a movement that is ready to challenge each and every one of those Democrats on their home turf and none exists at the moment, there will be no justice for Palestine and to borrow a phrase, “all the rest is commentary.”

  4. Bill in Maryland
    June 8, 2011, 10:00 am

    If Obama had just a little more courage, he could firmly and publicly stake out a J Street-type position (1967 lines with swaps, no to settlement expansion, 2SS, “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace”) and retain the majority of the American Jewish electorate. Yes he would lose some big Jewish donor money and some Jewish votes, but still achieve his billion dollar re-election funding goal, gain immense respect among American Jewish youth, non-Zionists, and his progressive base, and give cover to many politicians on the fence. He could drive that wedge much deeper with a little more backbone!

    • Kathleen
      June 8, 2011, 10:05 am

      Hmm while J Street really does seem like Aipac lite..that makes sense. Incremental steps

      • MHughes976
        June 8, 2011, 10:49 am

        ‘Incremental steps’ sounds promising but also seems to me to reveal the problems inherent in 2ss.
        I often think that if Obama, or any President, were to propose a fully worked-out version of the classic 2ss, with all i – s dotted and t – s crossed, and were to call for a referendum on both sides it would be very difficult for anyone, from Likud to Hamas, to refuse – and then it’s quite possible that there would be an overwhelming majority on both sides which would make further rejectionism impossible in the short term. So Obama would have brought peace to the ME – peace to the ME! – and would be certain first of reelection and then of world admiration for decades.
        On the other hand we know from recent experience in Cyprus that an internationally recommended settlement can, even when everyone is quite weary of conflict, fail at the referendum hurdle, making its backers look rather foolish.
        More importantly the classic 2ss, even if it left the Palestinians with a continuous territory and some water, is in objective truth miserably and crushingly unfair. So everyone would know that the Palestinians had accepted it only as the first in a series of incremental steps, so that the time would come when revision had to be discussed. So that after the plaudits had died down and a few decades had passed it would be clear that the story had not after all come to an end.

      • pabelmont
        June 8, 2011, 4:58 pm

        The possibility that anyone’s (Obama’s, UNGA’s, UNSC’s, etc.) formula might be rejected by one or both parties shows that the effort to make “peace” is likely doomed to achieve nothing except the prolongation of the horrible occupation.

        This is EXACTLY why I’ve been saying Since 2008 that effort to press for “peace” is misplaced when there is a better alternative, namely, pressing for something that large numbers of countries can agree on directly, namely, pressing for a legal occupation by pressing for removal of all settlers, and dismantling of all settlements (as UNSC 465 called for in 1980) and wall (per ICJ-July-2004) according to a fixed pre-set time-line. I argue that during that fixed pre-set time, the Israelis and Palestinians would negotiate peace in a short time due to Israel’s desire to retain a few of the close-by large settlements blocs.

  5. Woody Tanaka
    June 8, 2011, 10:01 am

    It’s time to get all this money out of politics and go to publicly financed campaigns.

  6. seafoid
    June 8, 2011, 10:06 am

    I don’t buy this Jewish money at 80% of Democrat funding. The big oil and healthcare companies aren’t stupid. Neither are the banks, insurers and hedge funds. Obama is very accommodating especially at the right price.

  7. Nevada Ned
    June 8, 2011, 10:18 am

    I have seen a survey asking American Jews what their #1 issue is. What percentage said it was Israel? A whopping 3%.

    Of course, if you survey big time donors, you might get a different answer. For example, right-wing casino king Sheldon Adelson is a major donor in Israel (where he backed Netyanyahu over Olmert because “Olmert doesn’t want to attack Iran”*) and also in the US where he supports ZOA over AIPAC, and Republicans over Democrats.

    *Adelson was the subject of a long and unflattering article in The New Yorker a couple of years ago.

  8. Djinn
    June 8, 2011, 10:41 am

    It’s time to get all this money out of politics and go to publicly financed campaigns

    By itself public campaign funding is not enough, Australia has public financing and our government is still bought & paid for by the extremely rich, see the death if the mining tax (and Kevin Rudd’s go at the top job).

  9. upsidedownism
    June 8, 2011, 11:57 am

    “Jewish money”
    Whatever the actual percentage “Jewish money” makes up of Democratic or Republican campaign contributions, how does one correctly describe the influence of “Jewish money” in American life, American politics, and American foreign policy towards the Middle East and P/I conflict?

    I’ve seen any number of articles denouncing the mere mention of “Jewish money” as evidence of antisemitism. With the JTA itself now using this terminology, how does one refer to the enormous influence of “Jewish money” without being accused of being a self hating jew or an anti-semite?

    It is important because one can not even begin to explain how the USA’s harmful foreign policy towards Palestine has been formulated without referring to the influence of “Jewish money”.

  10. Mooser
    June 8, 2011, 12:04 pm

    “Jewish” money, or Zionist money? Or does Phil contend there simply is no difference? He would certainly know better then I.

    • Philip Weiss
      June 8, 2011, 12:21 pm

      well jta says jewish donors. its not differentiating. and i would say that more than half that would be supportive of settlement project; and that the political zealots purposely elide the categories jewish and zionist so as to increase their clout

      • Citizen
        June 8, 2011, 3:17 pm

        Yes, Phil, that’s SOP, use the proclaimed jewish identity as both a sword and a shield. It keeps both the anti-semitic goys and earnest moral & ethical univeralist goys at bay. The anti-semitic goys, a la David Duke say, see, I told you so, but that doesn’t matter since white secular goys and white Christian goys have chosen to kick Duke to the curb, the fringe, etc, but it also works wonderfully in keeping the humanist goys at bay, studying their navels to see if there is some flake of anti-semitism in their navel, not to mention the career ball breaker that is any accusation of anti-semitism, direct or indirect. We’ve come a long way from Dreyfus. How long will the reference to Auschwitz and the Inquistion etc keep current reality at bay? The Zionists, like Weiner, still think all of us gentiles will give away the moral univeralist store because we have nice, decent Jews as friends and/or business associates. Sorry, Dick Witty et al. We see the immense difference between you and Phil Weiss. You could leave America tonight forever and we’d say, “Good riddance!” We want Phil Weiss to stay because he stands for what’s best about America and human beings everywhere.

      • Mooser
        June 8, 2011, 4:15 pm

        “well jta says jewish donors. its not differentiating. and i would say that more than half that would be supportive of settlement project; and that the political zealots purposely elide the categories jewish and zionist so as to increase their clout”

        I see your point. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

      • Thomson Rutherford
        June 8, 2011, 7:57 pm

        In political Washington, the merging of the categories Jewish and Zionist has been the key to the Zionist success story. Prying apart those two categories, achieving a clearly noticeable separation, is an essential requirement for the development of an orderly, healthy anti-Zionist political movement that will not be a harbinger and enabler of that ultimate destroyer of the American political system: the made-in-America cannonball of right-wing fascism.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        June 9, 2011, 7:33 pm

        Prying apart Jew from Zionist may be possible for the majority of American Jews but that is not the problem or even relevant. When it comes to exerting political influence the American Jewish Establishment, that is the Organized Jewish Community which is composed of the major Jewish organizations, is, in fact as well as in practice, the American Zionist Establishment. They are one and the same with the Christian Zionists serving as their auxiliary whose role is keeping the Republicans in line.

        Given that reality, without pressure from the grass roots, there are no politicians of either party who will be willing to expend their political capital on what has in the past proven to be a career ending decision. The only way liberal Democrats might be moved to do buck their party is if they are pushed to do so by an organized constituency that is not content to hold polite meetings with congressional staff members but is ready and willing to embarrass their bosses publicly.

        That in the San Francisco Bay Area. where for the last 24 years Nancy Pelosi has held sway and where the late, unlamented Tom Lantos represented the southern part of that city, there has never been a major protest against either one of them for their actions in support of Israel, and the leaders of the anti-war marches, ANSWER and Socialist Action have made sure it stays that way.

        A year ago, for example, when some union members organized a picket of a $100 a plate SF Labor Council breakfast for Pelosi, the head of ANSWER, Dick Becker; of Socialist Action, Jeff Mackler; and the local head of US Labor Against the War, answered the distress call of the Labor Council secretary and denounced the picket and tried to get it called off .

        All of those individuals, despite their claims to be anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian and despite the stream of leftist slogans they have passionately spouted over the years denouncing both political parties, have made their accommodation with the local Democratic Party establishment and have been allowed to get away with it. The same goes for Berkeley, first with Ron Dellums and since with his successor, Barbara Lee. After weeks of silence, Lee, who twice congratulated the now comatose Ariel Sharon, first on his election and then on his re-election, only spoke out on behalf of one of her constituents, Tristan Anderson of the ISM, who was shot in the head by the Israelis, when her failure to do so was criticized in the Berkeley Daily Planet by the estimable Henry Norr. Norr will soon will be on his way with the Freedom Flotilla, challenging the big boss of Congress across the sea in an effort to break the siege of Gaza.

        I can’t speak for other areas of the country but I suspect the situation is much the same. Those who wish to publicly challenge liberal members of Congress over their support for Israel are often told that this or that member of Congress is good on every other issue, a PEP, and can’t be expected to be “perfect” on everything. Right? And then when you ask whoever is making that lame excuse if he or she would have said the same thing about a congressperson who had supported apartheid in South Africa what you usually get is silence.

        This should be a message to those involved in the BDS campaign. As worthwhile as that is, it can NOT be the only game in town and be allowed to keep people from going after their members of Congress, and particularly so when they fall into the PEP category.

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