In The New Yorker that came out Monday, David Remnick wrote that Newt Gingrich's goal is the Jewish "vote." He didn't say it once, but four or five times (emphasis mine):
Late last week, as part of a Republican pander-fest for the Jewish vote... Newt Gingrich... called the Palestinians an “invented” people...
The Palestinian vote will not decide swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, or, above all, Florida; a considerable shift in the Jewish vote could.
Gingrich and his fellow Republicans have sensed a potential softening in the Jewish vote. In 2008, only African-Americans were more solidly behind Barack Obama, who, according to exit polls, won seventy-eight per cent of the Jewish vote. But the Republicans are hoping to woo at least the more conservative sector of Jewish Americans—those who feel that Obama has been too hard on Benjamin Netanyahu.
Chemi Shalev of Haaretz, the leading Israeli newspaper, then interviewed Remnick about his story and ran an interview Tuesday. Here's Shalev's first question and the beginning of Remnick's answer. Emphases mine.
Q. How do you view the extraordinary presence of Israel in the Republican race?
Remnick: Well, it’s not unprecedented. Israel even figures into things like New York mayoral races, as if the New York mayor had a foreign policy. So it’s not surprising that it would make an appearance to some degree or another, but you’re right, it’s a larger one this time around.
The reason is very simple: it is the hope of the Republican Party that the criticism of Obama regarding the Middle East and Netanyahu and everything related to it will somehow translate into a softening Jewish vote, that last time gave Obama 78%, second only to the African American community.
The Republicans won’t get a majority [of the Jewish votes] but they hope to get more votes in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and especially Florida. And I think they are also hoping to see if they can get some money from the obvious corners in the Jewish community. It’s not a secret to them that in terms of campaign contributions, Jewish Americans give quite a lot of money.
Remnick has been a leading voice on the issue in the last year, but in his New Yorker piece he is obfuscating, and the reason is obvious; Remnick is concerned that talk about Jewish money will arouse anti-Semitism in the United States. NPR's Robert Siegel did the same obfuscation last May. These men don't trust their audience. I'm reminded of Tom Friedman's interview with Ari Shavit in 2003, in which he said that the Iraq war was the war that a neoconservative "elite" wanted, something he wasn't going to write in his column: "I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened."
The question of why Republicans are pandering on Israel is not a trivial question, it's an important one. A lot of us, including Remnick, went into this business because we thought the American people had a right to know.