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Jeb Bush flipflops on brother George because he needs character reference for the Israel lobby

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Watch Jeb Bush flipflop.

Washington Post, February 18: “Jeb Bush: ‘I love my father and my brother…but I am my own man’”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is considering a 2016 presidential campaign, is seeking to distinguish his views on foreign policy from those of his father and brother, two former presidents.

CBS, February: “Jeb Bush: ‘I am not my brother'”

But of course 10 weeks is a lifetime in politics, and this is the headline in the Washington Post today: “One of Jeb Bush’s top advisers on Israel: George W. Bush”

After spending months distancing himself from his family’s political legacy, Jeb Bush surprised a group of Manhattan financiers this week by naming his brother, former president George W. Bush, as his most influential counselor on U.S.-Israel policy.

“If you want to know who I listen to for advice, it’s him,” Bush said Tuesday

The company at the luncheon included Paul Singer, the big Republican donor who is pro-Israel.

Why is Jeb flipflopping? Well back in March, his foreign policy adviser James Baker spoke at the liberal Zionist group J Street and was critical of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for opposing the two-state solution and building settlements.

At that moment, Bush lost the favors of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire funder of George Bush and in the last presidential cycle, of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney:

Adelson sent word to Bush’s camp in Miami: Bush, he said, should tell Baker to cancel the speech. When Bush refused, a source describes Adelson as “rips***”; another says Adelson sent word that the move cost the Florida governor “a lot of money.”

Meanwhile, FL Sen. Marco Rubio, seen as Bush’s top competition, got the backing of Florida billionaire Norman Braman, an ardent Zionist whom Rubio describes as a father figure and Politico says could be the next Sheldon Adelson.

Way down in today’s Washington Post story on Jeb and George, the reporters clue us in on why George Bush is such an important signifier to neocons, but of course not to voters:

Jeb Bush’s comments were widely interpreted as an effort to dispel lingering concerns among Israel hawks that Baker’s comments were indicative of Bush’s own views. Singer, a billionaire hedge fund manager, is one of many top GOP money players who fund conservative pro-Israel groups and candidates who favor a hard-line stance against Iran.

A majority of registered voters still have unfavorable views of how George W. Bush handled his job as president, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll in March. Nevertheless, there remains deep affection within the GOP for George W. Bush, with 87 percent approving of his presidential tenure.

“For all of the negatives in how George W. Bush is remembered in foreign policy, people who are supportive of Israel remember him as supportive of Israel,” said Danielle Pletka, who studies national security at the American Enterprise Institute. “For Bush, he has to find a way to deflect the festering question of his relationship with James Baker.”

George W. Bush drew enthusiastic reviews for his appearance last month before the Republican Jewish Coalition, where he answered questions about his time in the White House and his post-presidency.

Paul Singer is the Jewish billionaire behind a new Christian Zionist group, and a raft of neocons, including Pletka. Eli Clifton reports:

Singer, a director at the Republican Jewish Coalition, is a huge donor to various groups that promote a hawkish line on Iran policy. Between 2008 and 2011, he contributed $3.6 million to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hard-line neoconservative think tank whose scholars have variously advocated for “crippling sanctions,” “economic warfare,” and bombing Iran. The hedge fund mogul has also supported the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank whose scholars, including Richard Perle and Danielle Pletka, led the charge into Iraq and have been no less aggressive in regard to Iran. In addition, Singer has supported the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs—he was listed in the group’s “Chairman’s Circle” as recently as 2012.

In this crowd, the Iraq war is a resume builder. Colin Powell said that the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs got us into the Iraq war; the “JINSA crowd” influenced former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Some crowd, huh? And they don’t get flushed from the system because they have so much money behind them.

So all these Republican candidates are staking rightwing positions on foreign policy in order to get the locomotive they need to drive the campaign; but none of these givers cares about immigration or abortion, issues of concern to the rightwing Republican base. And how popular is the Iraq war among American voters, or even Republican ones?

P.S. Digby’s on to this at Salon. “Jeb Bush’s terrifying W. strategy: How he’s sucking up to extremist billionaires—with the help of the worst president ever… it’s about winning the donor primary.” I don’t think Chris Matthews will be able to avoid this one. And the split in the lobby just grows wider, driven by party politics: between the neocon Iran hawks and the J Street anti-settlement folks.

Thanks to Adam Horowitz.

Philip Weiss

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

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11 Responses

  1. pabelmont on May 8, 2015, 11:39 am

    Keep it all public, let Israel hang out in public. Good for the USA to see The Lobby (™) in action, to see the politicians bending to the oligarchs who own everything in the USA, and why shouldn’t they also own the republican (and other) candidate-hopefulls for president?

    • bilal a on May 9, 2015, 3:14 am

      ‘Keep it all public .’ But its always been public. Here the NY Times runs a photo of those ethnocentrists celebrating the Victory over Europe on VE day in New York. That’s very public.

  2. just on May 8, 2015, 3:14 pm

    He lied when he said “I am my own man”.

    They are all lining up to prostitute themselves to the casino boss and Israel. (apologies to prostitutes everywhere) The very thought of another Bush or Republican at the helm is preposterous to me but not to some.

    In other Lobby news:

    “A leading pro-Israel lobbyist in Brussels has made a series of racist comments about Muslims.

    Alex Benjamin has been the director with both European Friends of Israel (EFI) and the newly-formed Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA) over the past six months. While speaking on behalf of each of those organizations, he has displayed an anti-Islam bias.

    In December last year, Benjamin contended that one explanation for the willingess of some EU governments to recognize Palestine as a state was that “the demographics in Europe are changing.”

    “There is huge populations of Muslims in France, in Germany, all over the place,” he says. “And politicians are finding, rightly or wrongly, that in order to get their votes they have to pander to certain stereotypes.”…

    “Hornets’ nest”

    In a discussion prompted by the killing of a Jewish security guard at a bar mitzvah in Copenhagen earlier that month, Benjamin implies that Muslims in general are to blame for anti-Semitic crimes.

    “I see anti-Semitism and the rise of fundamental Islam and the changing demographics in Europe as inexticably linked. It’s a bit — if I could use a rather crude analogy — it’s a bit like having a hornets’ nest at the end of your garden.”

    He argues that the rise in anti-Semitism he perceives “can’t just be because of Israeli actions.” Then he says: “There’s something more fundamental behind it. And it’s not a very pleasant thing to do but sometimes you need to lift up the carpet and look at the horrible things underneath it.”

    Referring to new security measures taken in EU buildings following the January attacks on the French satiricial magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris, he says:

    I use the analogy deliberately about the hornets’ nest at the end of the garden and I would say that either you protect your house and you stop the hornets from flying in — like we have outside the [European] Commission; like we have outside the [European] Parliament. That is a short-term solution. The hornets are still going to be there. So do you go down to the end of the garden and you try to deal with the nest? Pr do you just try and protect yourself in the house and say “well listen, I’m too scared to go down there, I might get stung; I don’t know what’s going to happen; all I can do is stop them from getting in the house?”…

    Before he became a full-time Israel lobbyist, Benjamin worked as a press officer for British Conservative members of the European Parliament. His résumé includes, too, a stint as communications director with the Ulster Unionist Party in Belfast.

    EIPA is one of several lobby groups trying to promote a positive image of Israel. In an attempt to distract from the crimes committed against the Palestinians, it has been using Facebook to highlight the aid which Israel provided to Nepal’s earthquake victims and to celebrate innovations by Israeli scientists.

    EIPA is an offshoot of the similarly-named Europe Israel Press Association. Among the propaganda events that association has hosted was a talk given last year by Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli academic who has advocated that Israeli soldiers should rape Palestinian women.

    Benjamin seems to be settling in nicely to his job. His racist remarks are perfectly in sync with the Israel lobby’s toxic worldview.”

    • pabelmont on May 8, 2015, 8:29 pm

      One is tempted to refer to Israel as a hornet’s nest in the Middle East which needs very much to be eradicated. Query for Mr. Alex Benjamin: Should one give in to the temptation?

  3. Citizen on May 8, 2015, 7:11 pm

    17 of Jeb Bush’s consultant team are former members of George Jr’s team–including Paul Wolfowitz! Discussion on MSNBC now. Jeb said Bro George is his top adviser on Middle East & Israel. Guess he was desperate for a team with experience he can count on as loyal to him for the primary race? Problem: Many Americans, even GOP peeps, look on Iraq War as a major mistake in US foreign policy. Chris Matthews: He’s “just signing on to past mistakes.” Jeb said his Bro was his policy adviser for ME & israel to a group of rich Jewish donors, not to public at large, so he can say to public “I’m my own man.” Kudos to Matthews for bringing this to public light.

    Remember during last POTUS campaign, the Mormon candidate’s wooing of rich Jewish donors? A waiter spilled the beans & suddenly the public knew of that notorious 47%

    Looks like this run for POTUS will be putting Israel and the outrage of US campaign finance & rich one note Jewish donors in the lime light?

    • pabelmont on May 8, 2015, 8:31 pm

      When a waiter spills the 47% beans, it gets reported. Spilling the Israel beans, maybe not so much.

  4. eljay on May 8, 2015, 9:21 pm

    Zio-supremacists using (the promise of) money and power to manipulate American politicians into supporting their oppressive, colonialist, expansionist, belligerent and supremacist “Jewish State” project is shameful.

    American politicians allowing themselves to be manipulated – tripping over themselves in their rush to sell their souls to an unjust and immoral cause – is thoroughly disgusting.

  5. JLewisDickerson on May 8, 2015, 10:11 pm

    RE: Adelson sent word to Bush’s camp in Miami: Bush, he said, should tell Baker to cancel the speech. When Bush refused, a source describes Adelson as “rips***”; another says Adelson sent word that the move cost the Florida governor “a lot of money.”

    SPOKEN BY MISTER ROGERS: “Kids, can you say “despotic control”? Sure you can!*


  6. Rusty Pipes on May 9, 2015, 12:01 am

    Second tier candidates, like Rubio, are desperate for big early money, which is part of the reason they have tripped over each other for access to an easy source — a small number of Republican Zionist major donors. Unknown candidates need startup funds to generate name recognition or their campaign has no chance of getting off the ground. Jeb is not so desperate for name recognition or so limited in his potential pool of donors.

    Rather, he is doing a careful dance with the Christian Zionist segment of the base. He wants to chart his own course without alienating them or risking that they will galvanize behind another Republican challenger. Mike Huckabee, a darling of the Christian Right, just entered the GOP race. Having raised taxes as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee may have trouble raising big money from some other typical corporate funders for Republicans — so he will need big Zionist donors as well as Christian Zionist voters.

    Dubya is still loved by the Republican base, even those who disagree with some of his actions. At the same time, having distanced himself from some neocons during his last two years in office, it’s hard to know what kind of advice Dubya would give his brother about dealing with Israel.

  7. LA PLAYA on May 9, 2015, 5:50 am

    Sigh. Sad, sad situation: watching American senators and wannabe US presidents grovelling to a foreign power.

    When will the American electorate wake up?

  8. just on May 9, 2015, 9:01 am

    Be still my heart:

    “Sheldon Adelson faces new scrutiny as documents challenge his testimony

    Casino magnate’s trial remarks raised more questions than they answered about Las Vegas Sands’ connection with an alleged organised crime leader in China

    Sheldon Adelson, the multibillionaire casino magnate and key Republican party donor, spent four combative days in a Las Vegas court this week defending his gambling empire from accusations of bribery and ties to organised crime.

    By the time the hearing was over, Adelson had argued with the judge, contradicted the evidence of his own executives and frustrated his lawyers by revealing more information than he was required to in response to simple yes or no questions. But most importantly, far from laying the allegations against his Las Vegas Sands conglomerate to rest, the billionaire’s answers threw up yet more questions which he is likely to have to return to court to answer.

    On the court docket, the case is merely a wrongful dismissal suit. The former CEO of Adelson’s highly profitable casinos in the Chinese enclave of Macau, Steven Jacobs, is suing because he claims to have been sacked for trying to break links to organised crime groups, the triads, and for attempting to halt alleged influence peddling with Chinese officials.

    But the extent of what is at stake for Adelson was evident in the form of the Nevada gaming board official monitoring the case from the public gallery.

    Adelson accused Jacobs of “squealing like a pig to the government” and of blackmail in taking his accusations to the US authorities. They include the allegation that Las Vegas Sands paid what amounted to bribes intended to influence the Macau authorities and the government in Beijing and that the casino did business with a notorious triad leader.

    If these allegations are shown to be true, then Adelson’s gambling licences could be in jeopardy because associations with organised crime could prompt action by Nevada’s gambling authorities, always sensitive to Las Vegas’s history with the mafia. That in turn may threaten the huge sums of money Adelson feeds into the Republican party. He is estimated to have spent $150m to try to secure a Republican victory over Barack Obama in the last presidential election.”…

    Heaps of information/background here @

    You’d think that these Republicans would be running away from this Boss. Then again, they are today’s ‘Republicans’.

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