Republicans woo the settler vote

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) is scavenging GOP votes everywhere they can by sending speakers to woo Americans living in Israel’s illegal settlements. This untapped market of totaling 160,000 absentee ballots for all Americans living in Israel has the potential to swing a Romney victory and knock incumbent Democrats out of congress. The RJC events are spearheaded by an absentee ballot registration initiative called I Vote Israel, which M.J. Rosenberg recently profiled on Mondoweiss after the group posted an anti-Arab American election video.

Today I Vote Israel doubled their efforts to reach potential GOP supporters by hosting two events with Republican hotshots, Matt Brooks, the president of the Republican Jewish Coalition and Ari Fleischer, a former Bush administration press officer. The first event was by invitation only for pro-Israel bloggers, and the second was open to the public. But I Vote Israel’s official Twitter handle Tweeted updates throughout the day, albeit in the form of digs at Obama. “When it comes to dealing with the Arab world, showing strength is an asset. @BarackObama failed to deliver.” And “.@BarackObama wants to be neutral with regard to Israel, not to stand by Israel and do what’s right.” Even one of the hashtags for the event was a nod to the Republican party, #ivoteRJC, short for: I vote Republican Jewish Coalition.

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Today’s Brooks and Fleischer public lecture for I Vote Israel.
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A more substantial recap of the Republican agenda at the event was posted by Carl from Jerusalem who blogs at Israel Matzav:

In 2007, Netanyahu was Finance Minister and met with Governor Romney and got back together for one of the first time since Boston Consulting Group. They genuinely and respect each other. You won’t have an open mic situation like there was between Obama and Sarkozy about Netanyahu. Chemistry is much warmer than it is between Netanyahu and Obama.

Ari Fleischer says that if Obama wins, Israel is going to suffer regardless of how Jews and American Israelis vote. Cites AIPAC Jerusalem 2008, condemnation of Israel’s housing policy and open mic incident.

And both speakers used Iran to tug at the audience’s fear strings:

Matt Brooks says leaking of intelligence information on cyberattacks on Iran by the US is unprecedented, and think about the ramifications that has on any US allies. On a project of that caliber, there are no more than 10-12 people who have access to that information, and yet it was exposed by the US. Will other allies trust the US after this? The only people that win because of that are the Iranians.

Ari Fleischer says that ‘two state solution’ is just a phrase now, and a ‘Palestinian state’ now would not be a peaceful state. It’s Obama policy that Israeli ‘settlement freeze’ a precondition, and in a second Obama term that would only get worse.

Tomorrow, Brooks and Fleischer will reconvene again for another event in an Anglo immigrant neighborhood nestled west of the Green Line in Modi’im. But I Vote Israel’s work scratches deeper than the border of illegal outposts; they also retain Regional Directors throughout the West Bank tasked with registering Americans living on occupied Palestinian land. There are even a series of registration form drop boxes set up in settlement pizza parlors and bagel shops in Maaleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, and Shomron.

I Vote Israel’s next event, “Who should I vote for? Who’s good for the Jews? Who’s good for Israel?” will take place at the end of this month when extremist Gush Emunim follower Marc Zell will debate political scientist Dr. David Luchins. Zell currently lives in the West Bank outpost of Alon Shevu, which he says is “like a small town in Iowa.”

I Vote Israel concentrates on Americans in Israel because their absentee ballots have the potential to shift election results. “There were thousands of Floridian Israelis who could of voted but only 64 actually did,” explains I Vote Israel in a different promotional video. Continuing, “In tough races, absentee ballots decide the winner.”

But I Vote Israel is not lamenting Gore’s marginal loss due to the dereliction of “Floridian-Israelis.” On the contrary they see tight elections as an opportunity to push Israel to the center of the nation’s debate.

“We do have an agenda, and we are proud of it [but] our legal status does not allow us to endorse a specific candidate – for Congress or President.” said Aron Shaviv, a political strategist hired by I Vote Israel to investigate the party affiliations of Americans in Israel, in an op-ed for the Times of Israel. Shaviv’s research found that Romney has twice as many supporters in Israel than Obama, making the potential Republican votes tucked away in the Jewish state equal to 100,000. And with American Jews comprising around 3% of the electorate, or just fewer than 3 million voters, 100,000 could mean the difference between a Republican signing Israel’s $3 billion aid check, or a Democrat.

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