Two jawdropping stories from the Republican presidential race.
First, Sen. Lindsey Graham talked about the challenges of raising money for his presidential race on a Wall Street Journal blog. Lobelog picks it up:
He described “the means” as the biggest hurdle facing his potential campaign, adding:
“If I put together a finance team that will make me financially competitive enough to stay in this thing… I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding. [Chuckles.] Bottom line is, I’ve got a lot of support from the pro-Israel funding.”
Second, Norman Braman is reported to be Marco Rubio’s biggest financial backer for the Republican nomination for the presidency; Politico describes him as another Sheldon Adelson, willing to spend $25 million, friends say, in order to make Rubio king. He doesn’t like Jeb Bush.
Turns out that a few days after Rubio was elected to the Senate, Nov. 2, 2010, he made his first trip to Israel, a trip he had long talked about with Braman. Rubio and his wife met Braman and his wife and her sister over there. The Miami Herald wrote about the trip in 2010: “Guess who’s meeting Marco Rubio in Israel?”
Braman is 82 and a self-made billionaire– car dealerships, NFL teams– and was once 286 on the Forbes list, though that was before he got snookered by Bernie Madoff.
The Politico article doesn’t say what Lindsey Graham is willing to say, doesn’t mention the fact that Braman is Jewish, though it says he and Rubio share a love of Israel. Here they are at an Israel solidarity rally, declaring their support for Israel.
“A very unsettling time” for Israel, Braman says here. He’s worried about the boycott movement worldwide and the delegitimization of Israel. Young people don’t understand how important the creation of Israel was for Jewish life in the U.S.
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… There were very few Jews in banking, very few Jews in investment banking other than Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and a few others… 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.’.. Israel changed all that. I’m convinced Israel changed all that. All the advantages that Jews have today, that gneerations have since the establishment of Israel has been augmented by Israel…
The man Rubio calls a father figure says he’s unhappy about the state of the world:
I worry whether there’s going to be an Israel in the next 50 years from now…
How do you make peace with people who want to destroy you and are dedicated to your destruction?
Rubio is trying to stick language in the Iran deal demanding that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist. Is he reflecting Braman’s concerns? You bet.
Rubio and Ted Cruz are also hoping for support from Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire in New York who loves Israel.A couple of questions: Could this giant support be any part of the reason that James Baker has come out criticizing the Iran deal? Baker is close to the Bush family, is a foreign policy adviser to Jeb Bush, and was slammed by Israel supporters for criticizing the Israeli occupation at J Street’s conference.
Will Braman’s obvious influence, and Adelson’s, and Haim Saban’s weekend announcement for Hillary Clinton, allow the mainstream media, the Stephanopouloses and Matthewses and Zakarias of the world, to talk about the role of the Israel lobby in the presidential race? I know, it’s so obvious. But the media are afraid to touch it because it seems to feed into anti-semitic tropes, Jewish influence. When Lindsey Graham explicitly describes it as Jewish influence, though in his case they’re pushing on an open door.
Possibly this money is generational? It is older Jews who see Israel as a fulfillment of the Never-again vow they made after the Holocaust. So can J Street point to a younger group of Jewish donors who are opposed to the occupation?
And are there any billionaires (of any religion or ethnicity) who are involved in the presidential race who are anti-Zionist, who want Israel to become a state of its citizens, all its citizens, rather than just the Jewish ones?