One of the sidebar stories to Mitt Romney’s self-destructive comments about half of the U.S. being entitled, the Palestinians wanting the destruction of Israel and the need to keep the status quo in Israel/Palestine is that he made the statements at the home of Marc Leder, a wealthy 50-year-old in the private equity industry. Leder and some of the other donors there have funded Jewish causes as well as politicians who espouse right-wing Zionism and Islamophobia.
Of course Romney has raised money from lots of rich right-wingers– so it may be strictly coincidence that the most explosive story of the campaign came when he was speaking in front of a Jewish crowd. But it is surely yet another example of how Israel plays a major role in the financing of political campaigns– or as Jim Besser of the Jewish Week said, “While Jewish voting isn’t very Israel-focused, Jewish campaign giving is — and especially the mega-giving that is playing a bigger role than ever in Election 2012.”
Indeed, Romney’s statements to the crowd about the peace process may have been scripted by another one of his pro-Israel givers, Sheldon Adelson, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency notes. (In August of this year, The Daily Beast reported that Adelson has ”asked Romney to state publicly that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are a waste of time because the Palestinians are unwilling to make peace”–which is pretty much what Romney said at the fundraiser. While the story was reported after the Romney fundraiser in Boca Raton took place, Adelson has been meeting and speaking with Romney since February.)
So who was in the room that night in Boca Raton? There’s no confirmed list, but Mother Jones has posted a list of some of the other donors who possibly attended Romney’s May 17 $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Florida. The names Mother Jones lists are based on a “search for Florida-based donors” culled from “people who gave $50,000 to the Romney Victory PAC between May 1 and May 17.” Included in that list are other donors whose politics are tied to right-wing Zionism:
- According to tax records, Leder has given money to Jewish causes, like the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York ($2,696 in 2007), and the Jewish Federations ($5,000 in 2007). Leder’s family foundation gave money to the Jewish Federations, while another foundation to which Leder’s family foundation contributes to, Sun Capital Partners Foundation, gave the money to the United Jewish Appeal.
- Douglas Berman is executive managing director for HIG Private Equity. Berman is a board member for the Jewish Federation of Broward County.
- Then there’s Jeffrey Feingold, the CEO of McNa Dental Plans. Feingold accompanied Florida Governor Rick Scott on a 2011 trade mission trip to Israel. The purpose of the trip was “to strengthen business and cultural ties between Israel and Florida,” according to a report in the Sunshine State News. Feingold also gave $5,000 to the Republican Jewish Coalition–one of the the main right-wing Israel lobby groups–in April 2011. And Feingold has also given money to Allen West, the Florida Tea Party Republican who is a big supporter of the Greater Israel agenda and a virulent Islamophobe to boot. Feingold forked over $5,000 to West’s campaign.
- Another right-wing Israel supporter in Florida is Jonathan Kislak, who is in the venture capital industry. Kislak sits on the board of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a leading neoconservative think tank.
- Rafael Kravec is a Cuban Jew who told the Miami Herald, “I’m still a Cuban and have very strong ties with Israel.”
- And Sydney Lassen, a former CEO of Sizeler Property Investors, a “real estate and investment trust,” has given money to the Jewish Federations of New Orleans (pdf)–between $5,000 and $10,000 in 2004-05, as well as bankrolling Allen West with $3,500 in 2012.
Some of these figures–like Leder, Berman, Feingold and Kislak–have also given money to Adam Hasner, an up-and-coming Florida Republican who is–surprise!–another right-wing Zionist and Islamophobe. As Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald has reported, Hasner pals around with Pamela Geller. And as Mondoweiss has reported, Hasner, a chairman of the “Jewish Americans For Romney Coalition,” is a right-wing Zionist and believer in Greater Israel. “The Jews’ legal, religious, historical, and moral rights to the Land are superior to those of the Palestinian-Arabs,” Hasner wrote in September 2011.
Leder gave $2,500 to Hasner in 2011. Feingold gave Hasner $5,000 last year. Kislak gave Hasner $2,500 in 2012, and Berman gave him $1,000 this year as well. Other Hasner donors in attendance were Manuel Kadre and John Sykes, who both gave $1,000 this year.
(Additional research by Allison Deger and Adam Horowitz)