Rubio’s biggest backer says U.S. must be ‘global military power’ so that we can sustain Israel

US Politics
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Over the weekend, we noted that both the NY Times and MSNBC covered Marco Rubio’s big money guy, Norman Braman, 82, a Florida businessman who is said to have committed at least $10 million to the campaign, with scant reference to his Israel agenda.

In “Billionaire Lifts Marco Rubio, Politically and Personally,” the New York Times said that Braman has “an ardent commitment to Israel and a seemingly limitless bank account,” but left it at that.

Braman is a leader in the Miami Jewish community, and below is a great interview with him about his love for Israel on a Jewish show back in 2011. Braman is Israel-centric. He faults President Obama for his treatment of Israel, and expresses the fear that Israel will disappear within 50 years without U.S. support. And as for the U.S.’s economic struggles?

I worry about that because I really believe that a strong America is the greatest factor which insures a great Israel and a sustaining Israel. A weak America poses a threat to the future of Israel.

The U.S. is key because the rest of the world has lost its “romance” about Israel. The United Nations has “one basic purpose,” discrediting Israel; criticism of Israel is just ancient anti-Semitism in “disguise.”

Braman is a civic leader in other ways, but has a generational pride in Israel. He says Israel transformed the image of Jews worldwide after the Holocaust– “they don’t fight back” — and he’s been to Israel many times. Israel weathered the economic downturn that struck other nations because it has better leadership, he says, and Israel is a stronger country at 60 than the U.S. was.

The interviewer is Richard Peritz, and here are some excerpts.

How do you see the challenges facing Israel and Jewish life? Braman goes right to Obama’s dealings with Israel.

It’s a very unsettling time… for a variety of reasons. The relationship between President Obama and Israel has obviously been a rocky one, certainly probably improved in the last six months or so. The boycott movement throughout the world, the effort to attempt to delegitimize Israel… the young Jews living here who really do not understand how much Israel means to them…. [I remember] what it was to be an American Jew prior to the establishment of the state of Israel…. I try to explain to them what Israel has meant, and I don’t think they understand…. [They have to understand] how important Israel is to them as American Jews and for that matter probably, Jews throughout the world.

How was it important?

I remember all the fields in the United States that were closed to Jews, that there were a limited number of major Jewish law firms, and all the other major law firms had no Jews. There were no Jews in the insurance industry, there were very few Jews in banking, there were very few Jews in investment banking other than Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and one or two others. Among some of the major corporations in the United States that just would never hire a Jew simply because he was a Jew. And the general lack of respect that existed for Jews. Jews in general always being thought– ‘Well Jews are smart, but they don’t fight back, they don’t do anything,’ and Israel changed all that. I’m convinced Israel changed all that. All the advantages that Jews have today, that generations have had since the establishment of Israel has been augmented by Israel…And I worry that that dedication to Israel and that understanding of how important Israel is to them just hasn’t penetrated.

On the U.N.:

The United Nations is a disgrace. Thank God for the Security Council, thank God for the United States– rather, the consistent support that the United States has provided with the Security Council. But when you get into all the other agencies of the United Nations, you can see that it’s developed into organizations that have one basic purpose, and that is to discredit Israel and actually delegitimize Israel. While I probably believe that we need the United NAtions, I concern myself about how much damage the United Nations and some of these agencies have inflicted on the state of Israel. I’m not a happy person when it comes to everything happening in the world, as you can surmise, today… I worry whether there’s going to be an Israel in the next 50 years from now. I worry about that.

On the peace process:

I’m still back to the fundamental problem, how do you make peace with people who want to destroy you and are dedicated to your destruction?

The majority of Muslims are peaceful and just a minority want to see a world dominated by Islam, Peritz ventures.

I’d like to see the so called silent majority of Moslems, or Arabs, voice themselves in a manner that their leaders and the world can see that they are moderate, and they’re not a group that’s dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That has not been demonstrated. I haven’t seen this majority out in the streets advocating for peac.e I haven’t seen that… The intellectuals seem to be more hostile to peace and relationships with Israel.

Peritz asks about education in Jewish life. Braman answers by talking about Israel.

If you look at the achievements of Israel today, Israel is a technological powerhouse and cyber powerhouse. The dedication to education as far as Jews are concerned are the same as they’ve always been, the same as my family.

He says his parents were both immigrants from eastern Europe. It’s an inspiring story. His father came from Poland and worked as a barber who never earned more than $85 a week in his life and never drove a car. His mother came from Romania at 12 and went to work in a sewing factory. She was functionally illiterate. This is very much like Sheldon Adelson class-wise. His parents were immigrants. His father drove a cab.

Braman brags on Israel’s achievements in 60 years:

All one can compare is where Israel is today to where the United States was 60 years after we became a nation… We were on the brink of a civil war where more Americans died than all the other wars put together… We were destroying ourselves, and here you have a state of Israel, certainly with a very diverse population, as we all know, that is going through a economic windfall today that differs from the problems that are being experienced by every major country in the world who has suffered from this economic downturn. It’s not by accident. It’s the fact that Stanley Fischer… was voted the most outstanding banking executive in the entire world, handling the economy of Israel… And there are reasons for that.

What about challenges to the U.S. economy? [2011]

I worry about that because I really believe that a strong America is the greatest factor which insures a great Israel and a sustaining Israel. A weak America poses a threat to the future of Israel. So I concern myself about the United States, our economy, and the general situation in this country.

About the media war internationally:

We’re not going to win the media war in general. The important place to win the media war is in the United States, and I think we’re winning it here. But being anti Israel which I believe is  equivalent to anti-Semitism, is endemic. What’s new? It’s been going on for 1000’s of years. Why would it change now? I mean they’re using Israel just as a disguise for anti-Semitism, that’s exactly what’s occurring today…

On American support:

The romance involving the state of Israel faded a long time ago. And that romance isn’t going to return in the near future, if ever. But again it gets back to the United States.

We are the only world global power, we’re the only world global military power, we’re still the economic engine that is the standard of the world. If all those three fall, it’s a danger to the state of Israel. So I think we have to concentrate ourselves on working to bring the United States back to economic health as quickly as we can and do the best we can to make sure that the United States remains a very strong and vital power in the world. That’s the best guarantee Israel has for its future.

That statement is very reminiscent of the neoconservative founders Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol saying they left the Democratic Party in the ’70s because a weak U.S. military posed a direct threat to Israel. That belief is the neoconservative creed, and why they support U.S. wars.

Braman on the waning attachment of young Jews to Israel:

We have to bring more– more American Jews to Israel. We don’t do a good enough job with that…. I’ve been a supporter of Birthright. It’s more than just taking Jews to Israel. We have to get back to what we said at the beginning of the program. We can’t ask  someone what they can do for Israel. We have to explain to them what Israel has done for them. And if we are able to achieve that, then we will be successful in reversing this trend.

In their New York Times story, reporters Michael Barbaro and Steve Eder talked to Rubio, who said, “I don’t ever recall Norman Braman ever asking for anything for himself.” Yes, but doesn’t he want something for Israel?

Eli Clifton at Lobelog has reported that Rubio seemed to do another big Israel-loving donor’s bidding re foreign policy:

In yet another overlap between Paul Singer’s money and those critical of Argentina, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) this week introduced a Senate resolution demanding a “swift and transparent” investigation into the prosecutor’s death. It also accuses Kirchner of conspiring “to cover up Iranian involvement in the 1994 terrorist bombing.”

It turns out that Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, was Rubio’s second largest source of campaign contributions between 2009 and 2014, providing the presidential hopeful with $122,620, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

I urge the media to be frank about matters they all know are operative here. A love for Israel on the part of wealthy, older, conservative Jews who are in a position to influence presidential politics. Just ask Norman Braman.

About Philip Weiss

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

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20 Responses

  1. Krauss
    May 12, 2015, 11:01 am

    Maybe it’s just me, but rich Jewish money is okay to talk about on mainstream left-wing blogs that I frequent. It isn’t seen as the same thing like “The Jews”, as a community, but basically “every community has their crazy people, why would the Jews not have their own Kochs?”.

    And indeed, why not?

    P.S. Isn’t it nice to get a confirmation that so much of the neocon movement was all about protecting Israel using American blood and money, and not about “spreading democracy”(the propaganda line used tailored to American audiences).

    Or how people like Goldberg, whose main function is to give oxygen and air-time to neocon views to a liberal audience, with a subtle alliance with Republican neocons(and Zionists), as Glenn Greenwald pointed out recently. Ditto Jon Chait.

    But of course, if you point any of this out, then it’s a “conspiracy”. And then throw in some Godwin’s law for good measure.

    • bilal a
      May 12, 2015, 1:15 pm

      Its not just the ‘neocons’. Anti-neocon retired scholar and writer Paul Gottfried , prez of the HL Mencken Club, shares the same instrumentality view of gentiles. Here he describes how the development of White (Racial) Consciousness is essential for the protection of Jews from the vast horde of people of color.

      White Nationalism is Good For the Jews ( Paul Gottfried – Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt )

      • ritzl
        May 12, 2015, 3:34 pm

        Yikes!

      • Citizen
        May 13, 2015, 3:07 am

        I’m too tired at the moment to view the Gottfried video–how does he square his white nationalism with, say David Duke’s brand of the same? If memory serves, Duke wants a two-state solution with whites having their own state, coloreds heir own. Separate but equal. I don’t think Duke includes the Jews in his ideal white state. If all American Jews went to Israel, where would be their help from a dispora?

    • JWalters
      May 12, 2015, 6:26 pm

      I agree. This wacko is essentially saying, “Let’s slaughter some women and children to show the world we’re not pansies! That’ll teach those Nazis!”

      And a strong, obedient U.S. is needed to fend off justice.

      Gays have achieved civil rights in America without slaughtering and expelling vast numbers of innocent people. Might not the same have been achieved for Jews without starting a perpetual war in the Middle East?

      It is impressive, though, how a tiny tribe has gone from being complete outcasts in America to thoroughly controlling its politicians and press, shutting down honest debate in its major forums from coast to coast, while blatantly campaigning to slander an entire other religion. Reporters not bringing up a donor’s political agenda? Wow, those must be some scared reporters!

      • Mooser
        May 13, 2015, 2:29 pm

        “It is impressive, though, how a tiny tribe has gone from being complete outcasts in America to thoroughly controlling its politicians and press,”

        The Jews are not a tribe. We may be lots of things, but that ain’t one of them.
        Jews were never “outcasts” in America. They may have been a tiny minority, they may have been an oddity, and they were without doubt, the objects of some prejudice. But “outcasts”? No. Not by any comparison to anybody deserving of the term. They were never non-persons, slaves, or like Native Americans, considered a military enemy.
        Were they ever, anywhere in the US considered “outcast” enough to be legislated against? (Except insofar that discrimination was legal until recently)

      • JWalters
        May 14, 2015, 5:23 pm

        Mooser, thanks for the comments. I agree with your points. My intent was to draw Braman’s distinctions more starkly to highlight them. But precision accuracy is always appropriate.

    • Citizen
      May 13, 2015, 3:11 am

      “Isn’t it nice to get a confirmation that so much of the neocon movement was all about protecting Israel using American blood and money, and not about “spreading democracy”(the propaganda line used tailored to American audiences).”

      Some Israeli honchos have been much plainer, quoting the Talmud and saying things like, “The goyhim were made to serve us.” Comparing them to animals, etc.

  2. pabelmont
    May 12, 2015, 11:30 am

    “the young Jews living here who really do not understand how much Israel means to them”. So, he knows better than all Jews in America including those who don’t know what he believes he knows.

    AND he doesn’t seem to love America; no sign of it here anyhow. He makes himself seem to be not just an Israel-Firster but an Israel-Onlier: “I worry about that because I really believe that a strong America is the greatest factor which insures a great Israel and a sustaining Israel. A weak America poses a threat to the future of Israel. So I concern myself about the United States, our economy, and the general situation in this country.” (bold added).

    • Bornajoo
      May 12, 2015, 7:33 pm

      “He makes himself seem to be not just an Israel-Firster but an Israel-Onlier:” (Pabelmont)

      Israel-Onlier. That’s a new term you’ve come up with Pabelmont but a damned accurate one! I think we’re going to be using that term more often these days

  3. amigo
    May 12, 2015, 11:38 am

    It,s all coming clear to me now.

    Sustain Israel and you will sustain the USA.The road to survival of the USA goes through Tel Aviv. Sorry–Jerusalem.

    Dick and Jane should be eternally grateful to Israel for their existence and prove it by coughing up limitless money , men and military might. Surely this is what the founding Fathers had in mind.

    • Kay24
      May 12, 2015, 12:50 pm

      Hopefully soon Americans will realize that the nations capitol is not Washington DC but Tel Aviv. All vital foreign policies, and some domestic, esp. relating to media, is made over there.
      We are all pawns of zionists control. Isn’t it obvious when you take a good look at those we elect for congress?

      • amigo
        May 12, 2015, 1:13 pm

        “Hopefully soon Americans will realize that the nations capitol is not Washington DC but Tel Aviv. ” Kay 24

        Americans just want their 3/4 bedroom home with two cars and a motor home or boat parked outside.Add to that a trip or two annually , to Adelson,s “Mecca” (s) of sin ,(where they unknowingly contribute to their own imprisonment) and a good education for their kids and all is fine.Who needs to ruffle feathers . Who cares who leads as long as they don,t mess with the status quo.

        That is of course until THEIR kid comes home in a body bag.

  4. alfa
    May 12, 2015, 7:28 pm

    This is a dangerous game! Either they are stupid or they wish to increase anti-Semitism. I don’t believe in coincidence much. These billionaires are making Jews less safe, do they intend to raise anti-Semitism in European nations in order to con them into moving to Israel and an excuse for attacking Iran ? All these hysterical war mongers are presenting the image of characters from the Elders of Zion, It’s insanity.

  5. Keith
    May 12, 2015, 7:52 pm

    This is an interesting article on many levels. A first, obvious observation is that Norman Braman is almost completely Judeo-centric. EVERYTHING is evaluated from the perspective of Israel, Zionism and Jewishness, if it is evaluated at all. This is an extreme version of ideological fundamentalism totally impervious to fact or reason. He talks a lot about education, but his closed mind reflects massive indoctrination.

    BRAMAN- “I remember all the fields in the United States that were closed to Jews, that there were a limited number of major Jewish law firms, and all the other major law firms had no Jews. There were no Jews in the insurance industry, there were very few Jews in banking, there were very few Jews in investment banking other than Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and one or two others.”

    How accurate is his memory? Where did he get all of this data? Was somebody counting noses? Is this lack of Jewish law firms the reason that, in spite of his emphasis on education, education, education, he settled for a BS in Business Admin from Temple University? Any areas where Jews perhaps had an advantage, such as Hollywood, the media, etc? After graduation he joined (Bronfman owned) Seagrams. Two years later, he founded Keystone Stores. Jeez, young and inexperienced, who bankrolled him? You don’t suppose….? Bottom line, another billionaire victim of anti-Semitism who wafted skyward because of education and meritocracy.

    BRAMAN- “And the general lack of respect that existed for Jews. Jews in general always being thought– ‘Well Jews are smart, but they don’t fight back, they don’t do anything,’ and Israel changed all that. I’m convinced Israel changed all that. All the advantages that Jews have today, that generations have had since the establishment of Israel has been augmented by Israel…And I worry that that dedication to Israel and that understanding of how important Israel is to them just hasn’t penetrated.”

    This statement virtually begs to be deconstructed. Anti-Semitism was a consequence of an image problem? Because they were too meek and ” they don’t fight back?” And having a Jewish state brought respect? Perhaps it had more to do with the fact that pre-WWII, Jews had an image of anti-capitalist Marxists. Hitler continually referred to the “Judeo-Bolsheviks.” The point being that pre-war, capitalist business men were fearful of this perceived threat to capitalism. Zionism, on the other hand, is based upon a variant of blood and soil nationalism. And Israeli militarism during and after the June 1967 war removed all doubt that Zionist Jews supported both militarism and empire. Of course, the Zionist state of Israel undoubtedly provides other services to American Jewish Zionists.

    The unstated reason for Israel and Zionism as the Key to Jewish Zionist success is that Israel provides the symbolic core of the Zionist ideology which acts as the unifier of Zionist Jews, a function once performed by Classical Judaism. Braman’s intense tribal affinity is hard to miss. So too is his complete disregard for objective reality in regards to anything affecting Israel, Zionism or Jewish solidarity. Israel, Zionism and Jewish solidarity helped him get rich and he intends to defend and pass on this birthright.

    • RobertHenryEller
      May 13, 2015, 9:36 am

      Braman’s memory of exclusion of Jews is not without historical substance, but it is myopic. In fact, virtually all non-Anglo-Saxon, non-Protestant, non-Caucasian, immigrants to the U.S. were, to some extent, discriminated against, and in Braman’s younger days. Jews were only one group among the many who faced discrimination. But keep in mind, John F. Kennedy’s campaign of President was still highly controversial, even as late as 1960, because he was Catholic.

      Of course, much of that discrimination has dissipated over the past half-century. Now, 2nd-generation suck-cess stories like William Kristol and Rudolph Giuliani have no problem parading their laundered-of-ethnicity Full White Boy Cred, for instance when they openly and derisively question President Obama’s patriotism and love of the U.S. – even while they just as openly demonstrate their own divided loyalties.

      Who do you think Netanyahu’s role models are, for the way he treats President Obama?

      • Keith
        May 13, 2015, 1:05 pm

        ROBERTHENRYELLER- “Braman’s memory of exclusion of Jews is not without historical substance, but it is myopic.”

        I fully agree that Braman is myopic, but I also wonder just how much historical substance there is in Braman’s myth-history. Please remember his words: “I remember all the fields in the United States that were closed to Jews….” Closed to Jews? “There were no Jews in the insurance industry….” None, from sea to shining sea? No Jews in insurance in Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Miami? Where does he get his numbers? “…there were a limited number of major Jewish law firms, and all the other major law firms had no Jews.” No Jews in Gentile law firms in Miami, Las Vegas or Albuquerque? Although unstated, I assume Braman is referring to the New York financial elite. That Jews were excluded from the very pinnacles of power (unlike Blacks and Hispanics?). Of course, Jews did have access to power not enjoyed by some other minorities. As I recall, Jews were quite prominent in the Franklin Roosevelt administration. And Jewish success in Hollywood and California real estate suggests that they were hardly a beleaguered minority. So the WASP defense of their power and privilege is offensive primarily (only?) to the extent that it effects Jews? Does he mention any other group? Does he reference the relative status/opportunities of Jews to non-Jews, or is he only concerned with barriers to Jewish power-seeking?

        Let us fully consider the implications of his statement that “I’m convinced Israel changed all that. All the advantages that Jews have today, that generations have had since the establishment of Israel has been augmented by Israel… ” Well, the obvious implication is that for the barriers to advancement to fall, a minority needs a state of its own. Perhaps he is right. Perhaps the Blacks need to make aliyah to New York and kick the natives out. The Hispanics get to take over Florida and say Hi/Bye to Braman. A preposterous notion, of course. Even to make the comparison would elicit charges of eternal and irrational anti-Semitism. The bottom line is that Zionism is a power-seeking ideology which is based upon a never ending struggle between Jews and Gentiles as a consequence of Gentile irrational Jew hatred. It is a fundamentalist mindset which disregards objective reality when it conflicts with group goals and objectives.

  6. RobertHenryEller
    May 13, 2015, 9:16 am

    I wonder what the connection is between Norman Braman, as a leader of the Jewish community in Miami, Florida, and Ron Dermer, ex-U.S. citizen and current Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, the guy who cooked up Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. Dermer grew up in Miami Beach, where both his father and brother were formerly Mayors of Miami Beach.

  7. RobertHenryEller
    May 13, 2015, 9:40 am

    “I’m still back to the fundamental problem, how do you make peace with people who want to destroy you and are dedicated to your destruction?”

    Indeed, Mr. Braman. But somehow you miss the minor detail that the destruction of a people, the Palestinians, has been intrinsic to Zionism.

  8. John Salisbury
    May 13, 2015, 5:55 pm

    A rather disturbed man.

    I went back and read your seriously wonderful piece “Against Self-Determination” Phil.
    Feel much better now.

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