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‘Israel First’– for gay couple who hosted Ted Cruz

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The Republican desire for Jewish/Zionist money is permitting the press to talk about the Israel lobby at last. And the words “Israel First” have shown up in the Daily BeastYesterday the NYT published an account of a gathering for Ted Cruz in NY held by two wealthy gay men. Cruz is opposed to same-sex marriage, so what was he doing there? The Times’ Maggie Haberman buried the Israel angle in the sixth paragraph: 

[Host Ian] Reisner and Kalman Sporn, who advises Mr. Cruz’s Middle East team and served as the moderator for the evening, said the senator told the group that marriage should be left up to the states. The evening focused primarily on foreign policy, including a discussion of gay rights in Israel versus the rest of the Middle East, and opposition to President Obama.

Israel was mentioned one other time in the piece:

Mr. Reisner said he and [Mati] Weiderpass jointly own the duplex apartment where the event was held. He said that a third host, Sam Domb — another partner in their business who used to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican and a former mayor of New York — was also a property owner there.

The three men are strong supporters of Israel, as is Mr. Cruz. Mr. Reisner, who said members of his family perished in the Holocaust, said Mr. Cruz’s foreign policy views were part of the appeal for people like Mr. Domb.

I.e., Israel is such an important issue to some Jews that they are willing to forget about other political convictions.

The endorsement is no laughing matter in the LGBT community. The charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS promptly cancelled a major fundraiser at XL Nightclub in protest, Wikipedia says.

And in “Why are two wealthy gay men hosting a benefit for Ted Cruz?” Jay Michaelson at the Daily Beast says that folks are planning to boycott Reisner and Weiderpass’s resort in Fire Island.

[O]ver 4,000 people have said they’re going to boycott [Fire Island Pines, a largely-gay resort in Long Island]. The reason? It’s owned by Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, the self-described “prominent NYC hotel owners” who recently hosted a “fireside chat” with Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz….

Notice who the moderator was: Ted Cruz’s Jewish/Israel point man, himself a gay Jewish man and longtime Republican consultant…

[C]onservatives like Cruz, who write laws preventing my partner from visiting me in the hospital, suddenly wave the rainbow flag when it comes to Iran.

In other words, what happened in that penthouse was part of a much larger pattern of gay Jewish Republicans putting LGBT civil rights aside, and putting Israel First.

Michaelson doesn’t want the LGBT community to put aside Cruz’s bigoted positions on same sex marriage, just because gays have freedom in Israel.

But it would be nice too if people discussed Israel’s use of sexual freedom there to “pinkwash” human rights violations against Palestinians, an issue pioneered by Sarah Schulman. And if the boycotting of Reisner and Weiderpass’s businesses allowed people to talk about the effectiveness of boycott as a tool to fight for human and civil rights.

And if the “Israel First” sentiments of these hoteliers allowed Americans to begin a conversation about the national interest and our best friend in the Middle East.



Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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9 Responses

  1. pabelmont on April 26, 2015, 6:55 pm

    “And if the boycotting of Reisner and Weiderpass’s businesses allowed people to talk about the effectiveness of boycott as a tool to fight for human and civil rights.”

    Very nice point, Phil. And that could also grow into a discussion of the Republican/IsraelFirst amendment to remove trade favors for countries (or is it just EU countries?) that boycott/sanction Israel (or any territory controlled by it).

    It is really disturbing to see gays “forget” about insults to themselves in the USA and cozy-up with politicians who would deny them civil rights BUT who praise Israel for its human-rights to gays (how about to Palestinian gays, hmmmm?).

    • JLewisDickerson on April 26, 2015, 7:10 pm

      SEE: “Israel’s Treatment of Gay Palestinian Asylum Seekers” ~ by Caroline Esser, The Washington Note, 6/06/11

      [EXCERPTS]. . . The newest way to sell Israel to Americans: LGBT rights. Search gay rights on the Anti-Defamation League’s website and what do you find? A ready-to-print and available for order poster that reads, “Which of the Middle East nations protects the legal rights, safety & freedom of the LGBT communities? Only Israel.” . . .
      . . . In their 2008 study, “Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel,” Michael Kagan and Anat Ben-Dor describe in detail Israel’s unsympathetic and unbending policy towards gay Palestinians. . .
      . . .In pursuit of protection and the ability to openly express their sexuality, there have been at least ten cases in which gay Palestinians have sought refuge in Israel. However, despite their desperation, Israel refuses to even review gay Palestinian applications for asylum (those who have successfully received asylum have had to submit their cases directly to the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva). Moreover, gay Palestinians who have illegally entered Israel have been arrested and promptly deported–returned to the very environments in which their lives were at risk and in which they will now face further danger as they are questioned not only for their sexuality but for their choice to spend time in Israel. . .


  2. JLewisDickerson on April 26, 2015, 6:58 pm

    RE: “[Jay] Michaelson doesn’t want the LGBT community to put aside Cruz’s bigoted positions on same sex marriage, just because gays have freedom in Israel.” ~ WEISS


    [EXCERPT] . . . Reisner added that he’d just hosted a “Ready for Hillary” benefit at the Out Hotel.

    So, should LGBT folks cut Reisner some slack?


    It’s no coincidence that Reisner and Weiderpass are rich, white, cisgender men cozying up to another rich, white, cisgender man. They may be gay, but they profoundly don’t get it—the “it” being that the same privilege that oppresses gays is the privilege that oppresses people of color, immigrants, women, and the poor—precisely the groups that Cruz’s policies would hurt the most.

    It’s not a coincidence that Cruz is anti-gay and also anti-social-safety net, anti-reproductive justice, and anti-affirmative action. What extremely fortunate white gay men like Reisner and Weiderpass don’t understand is that it’s all one big package: the classism, the religious conservatism, the social conservatism—these all go together.

    “A Gays” like Reisner act as though Republicans just happen to have a blind spot when it comes to gays, but otherwise they’re just fine. They can’t understand why the LGBT Log Cabin Republicans, for example, have such a rough go of it. If only the GOP could get over this particular prejudice, then there’s no reason why gay people shouldn’t support them.

    But it’s not one particular prejudice. Right-wing extremists are extremist through and through. It’s a whole package.

    And that includes Israel. Hard-right conservatives are hard-right on Israel for the same reasons they’re hard-right on anti-LGBT and anti-choice politics. They’ve got one extreme conservative narrative: It’s us versus them, Americans versus the gays, Freedom Lovers versus Muslims, civilization versus barbarism. Iran, Palestinians, gay people, poor people, “illegal immigrants,” welfare queens, rowdy young black men—these are bad people. These kinds of dogmatic conservative values are clear, unmistakable, unshakeable.

    To be sure, not every foreign policy hawk, Republican, or conservative thinks this way. But Ted Cruz is a moralist on Iran the same way he is a moralist on family values.

    That’s why Reisner and Weiderpass don’t deserve a pass. Supporting Ted Cruz isn’t a matter of weighing his hawkish Iran views against his backward anti-gay views, because they are but two aspects of a consistent, conservative ideology that also includes climate denial, allowing the wealth gap to increase, and dismantling the social safety net. You can’t pull the one thread you like out of the tapestry; the whole thing unravels.

    I have no doubt that Reisner is sincere when he says he supports LGBT equality. But the reason to do so shouldn’t be in order to win rights for a few, privileged people like him. It should be in order to question assumptions of us and them, whoever the “them” is said to be. It should be about justice.

    SOURCE –

    P.S. I can’t help but wonder whether Manhattan’s premier socialite, Pamela Geller, attended the soirée/fundraiser for Ted Cruz.
    Enquiring minds mimes want to know!™

  3. Blownaway on April 26, 2015, 9:11 pm

    Sunshine is the great disinfectant. The more the machinations of the lobby, the more the Israel firsters come out into the sunshine the sooner the people of the U.S. Can have an open intelligent debate about what the role of Israel firsters in government should be.

  4. tombishop on April 27, 2015, 8:59 am

    If Obama hasn’t convinced people that identity politics is totally reactionary, this should put another nail in its coffin. The overriding division in the world is class. Whatever tribe people identify with ethnically, religiously, gender, sexual orientation; all fall away at moments in history when class interests come in conflict. At those times the overriding interest for most people is the interests of the class they are part of.

  5. wmflee on April 27, 2015, 11:58 am

    I am convinced that this meeting was more about Israel than about LGBT issues. The hosts have admitted that their “shared” concerns about Israel were at the forefront of their outreach to Sen. Cruz and that they had barely checked into Cruz’s position on LGBT issues before inviting him up to the penthouse for a chat. In any case, the whole thing has blown up in their faces big time, and they have today both issued groveling apologies:

  6. Blownaway on April 27, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Who says boycots dont work—WASHINGTON — Ian Reisner, a gay businessman who hosted an event for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in New York this week, apologized on Sunday after furious backlash from the gay community. “I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake. I was ignorant, naive and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home without taking the time to completely understand all of his positions on gay rights,” he said.
    “I’ve spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz’ statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry. I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry,” he added.

    HAHAHA he didnt know Cruz was a homophobe? Or was it a case of Israel first?

    • piotr on April 28, 2015, 8:10 am

      On top of that, the standing of Cruz in republican polls dived, something like 12% to 7%. Contrary to some thinking, not all marriages are made in heaven.

      By the way, State of Israel recognizes only religious marriages, and the list of approved types of religious marriage is short, emphatically excluding all Jewish denominations that approve gay marriages, something that gay Zionist are trained to ignore. Hence, they were ready to ignore little foibles of Cruz.

      The peculiar ecology of GOP politics promotes the wannabe dragons who not so much tell us their views as breath fire. Iran? fry them! then talk to accept the tribute from the chastised survivors? Muslim? fry them! Gays? Frying fellow citizens is less acceptable, hence the search for alternatives, like “religious freedom laws” to deny services to openly gay. Science? Fry them, or at least, fire them! Especially if they badmouth NRA or Israel.

      Now they comment about “fascists of they gay community” who descended on Reisner and Sporn. It always amazes me why they imply that fascism is bad. (It is bad sometimes, like in gay community, but there is also good fascism, like Mussolini before the Pact of Steel, when Betar happily run camps in Italy under the benevolent gaze of Il Duce).

  7. lysias on April 28, 2015, 2:27 pm

    These two guys may own the commercial center of Fire Island Pines, but I don’t think they own the whole community. Which, unless I am very much mistaken, is made up of many private residences that are privately owned by different individuals and families.

    Anyway, right next to Fire Island Pines is the equally gay community of Cherry Grove, which has been honored by the federal government as the oldest gay community in the U.S., which I know is made up of private residences privately owned, whose many businesses are separately owned, and which totally lacks the crass yuppie atmosphere of The Pines. Its businesses suffered a fire back in March, so the community can very much benefit from any business that it gets from people who choose not to go to The Pines.

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