Anthony Weiner speaking to the Center for American Progress in 2011 (Photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund/Flickr)
Anthony Weiner sure knows how to pander to supporters of Israel. Weiner, a leading mayoral candidate in New York City, told Mondoweiss this week that the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement is “unwise” and that Israel is an “important ally” to the U.S.
Israel is “a democracy in an oasis of terrorist states and terrorist organizations,” he said shortly after answering questions on food politics in New York that reflected his progressive politics–save for Israel. I caught up with Weiner for about a minute outside the New School in Manhattan, where the mayoral forum on food took place, before he hopped into his car.
Weiner refused to comment on City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s recent statement at an Orthodox Union forum that the West Bank is a “disputed territory.” Weiner said he doesn’t “have any reaction to that,” passing up an opportunity to once again affirm his belief that the West Bank isn’t occupied by Israel. Quinn is his most formidable opponent in the mayor’s race.
I also asked the leading mayoral candidate about a 1993 rally he attended where speakers described former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as a “traitor,” “worse than Hitler” and suggested Rabin be killed for his role in brokering the Oslo Accords, as Max Blumenthal reported. Weiner didn’t want to get into it.
“I attend a lot of rallies. I’m not responsible for things that people say at every one,” said the candidate. After those comments, his handler said they were running late, and Weiner quipped, “Gotta go my brother.” Later in the evening, Weiner addressed a group of young leaders in the Jewish organizational world.
Since throwing his hat into the ring in May, Weiner has transformed the mayoral race by skyrocketing in the polls and giving Christine Quinn a run for her money. Weiner is currently polling first, with Quinn coming in a close second, despite Weiner’s high-profile scandal in 2011 involving sexually explicit photos sent over Twitter.
Weiner’s rise has been fueled by a healthy fundraising war chest. He entered the race with $4.2 million in the bank–cash that was raised before he quit Congress over the scandal. And some of the donors who gave Weiner a fundraising boost have hawkish views on Israel in line with his comments to me, as records from the New York City Campaign Finance Board reveal.
One such donor is Eli E. Hertz, who gave Weiner $1,000 in October 2007. Hertz, who attended a Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) dinner in 2006 where Weiner quipped that he’s from “the ZOA wing of the Democratic Party,” is a member of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee’s executive council. Hertz was also a trustee for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and has written numerous columns for the pro-settlement website Arutz Sheva. Hertz justified the Nakba in one column written in May 2013. “Dislodging all Arab inhabitants from sensitive areas in proximity to Jewish settlements, establishing territorial continuity between blocs under Jewish control, and ensuring control of key transportation arteries were military necessities,” he wrote.
Another AIPAC member to give Weiner money is Beth Dozoretz, who served on the Israel lobby group’s executive committee. Dozoretz gave Weiner $2,000 in 2008, and followed that up with a $3,050 contribution last month.
In March 2007, Arnold Goldstein, a pro-Israel businessman, gave Weiner $4,000. Two years later, Goldstein gave the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa $5 million to “establish the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Satellite Center” at the school, according to the Jewish Week. “Because Israel is a small country surrounded by so many enemies, to continue to exist it must be technologically more advanced than its hostile neighbors,” Goldstein said then. “The robotics program is pretty amazing, and I think it is essential for Israel’s existence.”
Weiner’s views on the BDS movement align with those of Michael Adler, another donor to his campaign. Adler, formerly a vice chairman of the Jewish Federations of North America, gave Weiner $2,000 in 2008. In January 2011, Adler gave a speech to the The Greater Miami Jewish Federation, where he was a president, and decried the BDS movement as seeking “to destroy Israel as a democratic Jewish state…The BDS movement is a very sophisticated political movement. Their goal, to destroy Israel, is as dangerous as any weapon or army. It is a movement of political and economic terrorism that we will stop.”
Yet another hawkish Weiner donor is Irwin Hochberg, who gave the candidate $1,000 in 2007. Hochberg is the vice chairman of ZOA, and sits on the executive committee of the Middle East Forum, an anti-Muslim group run by neoconservative Daniel Pipes.
Research for this article was contributed by Emma Levine-Nevel.