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Rubio calls out Clinton over settlements — and his biggest donor funds one

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Here is another sign that we are going to see the issue of Israeli settlements in occupied territories politicized in next year’s election campaign.

In March, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida gave a speech on the Senate floor calling on the U.S. to give unconditional support to Israel, including its settlement project in the West Bank, which he described as “Judea and Samaria” and vital to Israel’s defense.

Rubio called out Hillary Clinton because she “berated” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for 45 minutes in 2010 over the question of settlements in East Jerusalem. “As if Jerusalem was not part of Israel,” Rubio said.

He went on to assail Obama for criticizing settlements at the United Nations and he said that Israel could not “return to its indefensible pre-1967 borders.”

Now it turns out that Rubio’s biggest backer, Norman Braman, the Florida businessman who is expected to spend between $10 and 25 million on Rubio’s presidential campaign, is a friend of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Eli Clifton reports that Braman has supported the Israeli settlement of Ariel.

Between 2004 and 2008, Braman’s family foundation contributed $311,000 to American Friends of Ariel, an organization that funds the development of Ariel, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank…. Ariel is illegal under international law and in direct contradiction of U.S. policy.

Braman helped promote and raise money for the settlement at a 2007 “Peace with Security Dinner” for American Friends of Ariel, held in Fort Lauderdale. Braman served as honorary chairman of the dinner and the “dinner committee” included Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein and bingo-magnate Irving Moskowitz, a high profile funder of Israeli settlements.

Last year, Ariel mayor Eliyahu Shaviro made an “inaugural trip to the USA” in which he met with “generous supporters like Norman Braman,” according to a Friends of Ariel press release.

Ariel University in the West Bank, photo by Scott Roth

Ariel University in the West Bank, photo by Scott Roth

Marco Rubio lately told the New York Times that Braman never asked him for anything. But many of Braman’s ideas about Israel as an answer to the Holocaust, about the scourge of delegitimization of Israel, about Obama’s criticism of Israel, and about the negative role of the U.N. were echoed by Rubio in his speech in March. Hardly surprising, given that Braman has been a father figure to Rubio and met him in Israel days after the senator was first elected, in 2010.


“Israel represents everything we want that region of the world to be. Israel is a democracy…. Don’t we wish the entire Middle East looked that way?.. It has a special and unique purpose. It was founded as the homeland for the Jewish people in the aftermath of the second world war and the Holocaust… It’s not just a nation, it’s a nation with a special and unique purpose, unlike any other nation in the world….

“They [Israel] need American support, unconditionally. If there are differences, they need to be dealt with privately, like with other allies.”

And Benjamin Netanyahu is right, Rubio said: “A two state solution is impossible given the current circumstances.”

Eli Clifton says that Rubio has emerged as the neoconservative favorite in the campaign:

Braman and [Paul] Singer seem to like what they’re hearing as Rubio emerges as the GOP presidential candidate most sympathetic to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, although he has heavy competition. Rubio, for his part, appears to be on a well-paid campaign to disrupt diplomacy with Iran as well as any possibility of a two-state solution between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Paul Singer’s Elliott Management has been Rubio’s second-largest contributor in the years 2009-2014. And Singer has been a major funder of neoconservative shops, The Israel Project and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Paul Singer is also central because he was Jeb Bush’s host last week at New York’s Metropolitan Club when Bush made his famous flip-flop, embracing his brother George as his top Middle East adviser.

It’s no wonder that Jeb Bush is pandering to Singer; he has to take on Rubio on these issues in order to try and get Paul Singer away from Rubio in the coming campaign.

By the way, Chris Matthews said that Bush was speaking to “a Jewish group” when he did that flipflop. But it wasn’t a Jewish group; it was financiers, according to the Washington Post, gathered by “GOP mega-donor Paul Singer and his advisers so their associates could hear from Bush.” Now I think Matthews’s error is understandable. There is only one group in our country calling for war with Iran, and that’s rightwing pro-Israel Jews. They are well-connected in Jewish organizational life, and the established Jewish community has maintained unity around these militant views for a long time– though lately it is at last permitting criticism of these hawks.  The growing Jewish diversity on these questions is what will allow the Democratic nominee for president to run against the settlements, I predict; she will be able to raise big money and criticize the settlement project, somewhat anyway. Though I wonder whether Clinton will adopt Rubio’s view of Jerusalem.


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20 Responses

  1. John O
    John O on May 14, 2015, 1:06 pm

    I love the “indefensible pre-1967 borders” meme. They seem to have been defended pretty well over the years.

    • bryan
      bryan on May 15, 2015, 8:33 am

      I agree, John its crazy. The expression is usually in reference to Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank, but what conceivable threat can possibly come in that direction. I suggest only three possibles sources:

      (1) Jordan – definitely not. Jordan is Israel’s staunchest ally in the region, and has never posed any real-threat to Israel. (Back-channel discussions in 1947-8 demonstrate Jordan’s collusion with Zionism in the creation of an Israeli state; the Arab Legion under Pasha Glubb strenuously intervened to maintain the armistice arrangements and to control guerrilla infiltration; Jordan only reluctantly entered the Six Day War after being driven closer to Egypt by Israel’s aggression in the Samu incident in November 1966; Jordan drove the PLO out of its territory following Black September 1970; Jordan refused involvement in the 1973 War; and made an enduring peace with Israel (which could have come many many years earlier) in 1994).

      (2) Palestine – highly unlikely. The PA has rigorously collaborated with Israel on security matters, even at the cost of its own popularity, and is eager (in exchange for 1967 borders) to accept an entirely demilitarised state, and even to welcome international peace-keeping forces into its territory.

      (3) The strongly pro-Western Jordanian regime could collapse, but this has been forecast for decades and has not materialized and Jordan has proved surprisingly resilient. Jordan is determined to resist ISIS and other disruptive forces, and a Palestinian solution could be expected to only strengthen the viability of Jordan, which has an incredibly strong interest in Israel/Palestine based on cooperation over water, gas, oil, tourism, trade and the environment.

      Thus when we hear reference to the “indefensibility of the pre-1967 borders” this is a thinly veiled protection for the “indefensibility of the post-1967 occupation”.

      But let us concede for the moment the two postulates of Republican discourse (the “indefensibility of the 1967 borders” and the “impossibility of a two-state solution”.) Now our Republican friends are deeply imbued with a love of freedom, democracy and human rights, and are determined opponents of Jim Crow, segregation and repression. So when they argue against the practicality of a two-state solution, they surely cannot be arguing for Apartheid, ethnic-cleansing and a further 50 years of occupation? They are implicitly urging a one-state solution. The choice of course should not really be of concern to an alien electorate, living thousands of miles away and manipulated by wealthy plutocrats. The Israeli people have to decide if they want a democratic state shared by two peoples, a Jewish state within internationally accepted borders or the pariah status that must inevitably come from preserving the status quo.

    • RoHa
      RoHa on May 15, 2015, 9:16 am

      There is no rule, moral or legal, that says a state is entitled to defensible borders.

    • Hajja Romi
      Hajja Romi on September 17, 2015, 8:34 pm

      Saying Israel has a right to defensible borders is like saying thieves have a right to shoot anybody who tries to take their loot away from them.
      You aren’t supposed to be able to profit from a crime, but Israel manages to do just that.

  2. Donald
    Donald on May 14, 2015, 1:38 pm

    I don’t understand the optimistic tone in your last paragraph. It’s been standard boilerplate rhetoric and U.S. Policy for decades to make noises opposing the settlements. It’s how most liberal Zionists define themselves as liberal. In most cases this opposition is little more than a fig leaf–it almost never leads the self-proclaimed critic of settlements to advocate any meaningful pressure on Israel to stop them.

    What is happening now is that Republicans are abandoning liberalZionism and embracing the rightwing variety outright. Your hope is that maybe this will force Democrats into open opposition. Maybe, but I can see how it will go– the Democrats will stick to the 2ss as the best thing for Israel, will continue to proclaim their love for Israel, but it won’t mean they will advocate pressure on Israel. In short, the Overton window shifts right and you’re hoping this leads to a debate, but it’s not one that will include Palestinians–it will be between two different styles of giving Palestinians the shaft.

    • eljay
      eljay on May 14, 2015, 1:54 pm

      The growing Jewish diversity on these questions is what will allow the Democratic nominee for president to run against the settlements, I predict; she will be able to raise big money and criticize the settlement project, somewhat anyway. Though I wonder whether Clinton will adopt Rubio’s view of Jerusalem.

      Seeing as how outgoing president Barry “Kill lists / Peace Prize” Obama has yet to muster the moral fortitude to speak out against Israel’s decades-long and on-going campaign of (war) crimes, there’s not much chance that an aspiring president Clinton – after affirming her eternal love for Israel (“unshakeable bond!”, “shared common values!”, “no light between!”) – will do anything more than furrow her brow, refer to the settlements as “unhelpful” and express her support for a two-state solution.

  3. just
    just on May 14, 2015, 1:44 pm

    Scott Roth’s picture of the guy at Ariel U. was already imprinted on my mind! I think of it every time I read about that illegal University.

    It’s one of the many faces of illegal settlements, settlers, and Israeli Occupation.

  4. pabelmont
    pabelmont on May 14, 2015, 3:28 pm

    Don’t you just love the way people can be confused between a group of financiers and a group of large Jewish donors? Guess it’s basically the same guys wearing different hats. (What did the Protocols say? I never read them.)

    When I complain about governance bi the BIGs and mention BIG-ZION and BIG-BANKs as different categories I never fail to think of the likelihood of overlaps. Jewish banksters? Who’d a thot? Monsanto run by a Zionist? Could be! and not necessarily Jewish either, for that matter. Big-Health-Insurance run by a friend of Israel? why not? Defense industries? don’t get me started, but they’d have different reasons for wishing to keep the arms race racing in M/E.

  5. Bornajoo
    Bornajoo on May 14, 2015, 3:56 pm

    This Rubio character is extremely scary. I’d rather not imagine what Israel would get up to with someone like him as POTUS. But would Clinton be any better?

    I can only see very dark times ahead.

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on May 14, 2015, 4:47 pm

      Yes, dark times for the US with pro war Presidents, all eager to please their masters in Tel Aviv, and more suffering for the Palestinians. If only there was a God. :))

      • Bornajoo
        Bornajoo on May 14, 2015, 4:53 pm

        “If only there was a God. :))” (Kay24)

        Well if there is a God then I hope it’s not that dark, vengeful, jealous old God of the Hebrews!

  6. Krauss
    Krauss on May 14, 2015, 6:14 pm

    Phil, it’s not just Braman and Singer. Even Larry Elliot(of Oracle) is now hosting fundraising dinners for Rubio.

    That guy makes Braman look like a beggar. Seems like the term “Adelson primary” is already out of date. From all intents and purposes, we’re seeing an avalance of rich right-wing Jews(even some in Silicon Valley!) pushing into the GOP field in 2016.

    Hillary will turn hard-right because of this. And BDS will only grow faster.

    • Landie_C
      Landie_C on May 14, 2015, 10:19 pm

      I think your predictions are spot on, Krauss, regarding both Hillary and BDS.

      (It’s Ellison, btw).

  7. JWalters
    JWalters on May 14, 2015, 6:36 pm

    “There is only one group in our country calling for war with Iran, and that’s rightwing pro-Israel Jews.”

    Thank you for stating that. They make this hard to talk about by hiding behind many groups’ labels, plus the relentless bombardment of “anti-Semitism” charges.

    But the facts are coming out. “If Americans only knew” will become “Americans know”. That will be the final tipping point. The religious cover story will be in tatters, and the war profiteering banks (and their corporate tentacles) will be unmasked.

  8. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson on May 14, 2015, 6:50 pm

    RE: “There is only one group in our country calling for war with Iran, and that’s rightwing pro-Israel Jews.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Don’t forget John Hagee and his ilk (i.e., the Christan Zionists)!

  9. watzal
    watzal on May 15, 2015, 8:47 am

    It’s disgusting to watch how the US presidential candidates outdo each other in servility to the Zionist right-wing regime in Jerusalem. Do these politicians have no other problems? Instead of dealing with the decaying US regime, they promising a brutal occupation regime more money and more deadly weapons in order to secure their “exclusivist ghetto”. How much longer want the Americans support Israel’s colonialism against an oppressed people?

    • catalan
      catalan on May 15, 2015, 10:48 am

      “dealing with the decaying US regime,”
      Hyperbole to the point of delusion. The U.S. is fifth on the human development index, behind only Switzerland, Netherlands, Australia and Norway. If that’s a country with a “decaying” government I shudder to think how Russia or Mali should be described…

  10. Misterioso
    Misterioso on May 15, 2015, 11:57 am

    “Rubio called out Hillary Clinton because she ‘berated’ Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for 45 minutes in 2010 over the question of settlements in East Jerusalem. ‘As if Jerusalem was not part of Israel,’ Rubio said. He went on to assail Obama for criticizing settlements at the United Nations and he said that Israel could not ‘return to its indefensible pre-1967 borders.’ ”

    Well, apparently, as the following attests, if Rubio should win the presidency, he intends to end America’s UN membership and its other commitments based on hard won international law.

    (A) Security Council Resolution 446 (22 March 1979) “[Affirms] once more that the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem,
    “1. Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;..”

    (B) Security Council Resolution 465 (1 March 1980) “determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity…”

    (C) Israel’s 1980 annexation of East Jerusalem was unanimously rejected by the UNSC in Resolutions 476 and 478.

    (D) On 17 December 1981, the UNSC unanimously passed Resolution 497, which declared Israel’s 14 December 1981 annexation of Syria’s Golan Height “null and void.”

    (E) In accordance with the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by Israel, and further underscoring the illegality of the settlements, Part 2, Article 8, section B, paragraph viii of the Rome Statute of the International Court (1998) defines “the transfer directly or indirectly by the Occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” as a War Crime, indictable by the International Criminal Court.

    (F) On 24 February 2004, the U.S. State Department reaffirmed its earlier position in a report entitled Israel and the Occupied Territories, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: “Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights after the 1967 War…. The international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over any part of the occupied territories.”

    (G) In its 2004 ruling, the International Court of Justice unanimously ruled that “No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.” The World Court denoted this principle a “corollary” of the U.N. Charter and as such “customary international law” and a “customary rule” binding on all member States of the United Nations.

    (H) In the summer of 1967, “[t]he legal counsel of the Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron, was asked [by Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol] whether international law allowed settlement in the newly conquered land. In a memo marked ‘Top Secret,’ Meron wrote unequivocally: ‘My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.’” (New York Times, 10 March 2006)

    (I) British Foreign Secretary William Hague regarding Jewish settlements in the West Bank (5 April 2011): “This is not disputed territory. It is occupied Palestinian territory and ongoing settlement expansion is illegal under international law…”

    (J) Even the Israeli Supreme Court has declared the West Bank (and Gaza Strip) to be under belligerent occupation. In 1979, the court declared “[t]his is a situation of belligerency and the status of [Israel] with respect to the occupied territory is that of an Occupying Power.” In 2002, the court again held that the West Bank and Gaza Strip “are subject to a belligerent occupation by the State of Israel” and in June, 2004, it proclaimed “[s]ince 1967, Israel has been holding [the Palestinian Territories] in belligerent occupation.”

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