There’s been a lot of Israel news in the primary process lately, and I’m going to play catchup on it here.
First, this just in. Hillary Clinton is going to have a fundraiser in Tel Aviv. Her Jewish outreach director will hold it. Remember that Clinton has pledged Haim Saban to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at Israel, so she’s putting her moneyraising where her mouth is.
Sarah Bard, Hillary Clinton's director of Jewish outreach, will headline a fundraiser in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 17. https://t.co/CEa4UrFyi3
— Dan Merica (@merica) April 21, 2016
Clinton has also been raising a ton of pro-Israel money in L.A. Haim and Cheryl Saban have just kicked in another $2 million on top of $5 million they gave last year to her SuperPac, Priorities USA Action. Yahoo:
Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg have each given $1 million to Priorities, and Katzenberg has been lining up donors to the group….
Saban, Katzenberg and Spielberg were all co-hosts of a fundraiser featuring Hillary Clinton at the home of George Clooney on Saturday.
All these men (Clooney excepted) are ardent Zionists. Katzenberg has said that Israel “is a jewel. It’s this amazing beautiful gem that exists in a place where there are not a lot of gems.”
The big giving is a reminder that Jewish “weight” in our politics, as the Forward’s JJ Goldberg said last weekend, is chiefly through the checkbook and not at the polls, and that Bernie Sanders may reduce that weight through his populist model of raising money from individuals at $27 a pop on average.
On that note, Bernie Sanders did far better in upstate New York than he did in New York City on Tuesday during his loss of the NY primary. He won an overwhelming majority of New York counties, just not the big urban ones around Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, NYC. His overall loss in the state was 58-42; in NYC he fell to 63-36.
It would seem that Sanders paid a price among Jews, though not a huge one, for saying that U.S. policy should be evenhanded and that Israeli attacks on Gaza have been “disproportionate.”
JTA has a piece by Uriel Heilman analyzing the numbers in the New York city vote and saying that Jews helped Clinton, but not all that much. Her overall margin in the city was 63-36, and in Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Clinton beat Sanders by about that ratio.
Clinton did much better on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Upper West Side, where plenty of Jews live and where she took about 80 percent and 71 percent of the vote, respectively. But it’s hard to surmise anything about the Jewish vote in those neighborhoods because the Jews are mixed in with non-Jews.
On the Republican side, Ted Cruz seems to have swept the haredi Orthodox vote. …
The John Kasich campaign is also trumpeting his victory in the 12th Congressional District, which includes the Upper East Side and parts of Queens, as evidence that Kasich won the Jewish vote because that district is the second-most Jewish in the country. But while the 12th district has many Jews, the proportion of Jews to non-Jews there makes it impossible to drawn any conclusions about how the Jews voted.
Here’s the little we know for certain: Among Orthodox Jews, Clinton and Sanders did about as well as they did among New Yorkers generally, while Cruz was the clear favorite of Republicans.
Speaking of Kasich and Jews, Jewish Insider posted this video of Kasich being somewhat dry/waspish on biblical stories, with some Orthodox Jews. I believe some in the Jewish community accused Kasich of “goysplaining.” Myself I found Kasich to be serious and thoughtful, and a little campaign-weary too, in his scriptural remarks.
Back to Dems. Michael Tomasky has a good piece of analysis at the Daily Beast headlined, “Bernie Sanders brought NY Dems to their senses on Israel.” Tomasky seems to believe that by “anti-pandering,” Sanders may have effected a sea change in the discourse, in line with younger Democratic voters’ attitudes.
An acknowledgement that Palestinians are human beings—during a New York primary, no less!
Clinton could have—and 12 or so years ago, undoubtedly would have—responded by saying something like until the Palestinians get better leaders and stop teaching hatred to their children, my posture won’t change. Not only did she not do that, but Sanders forced her to acknowledge the point…
Sanders is to be commended for this anti-pandering—it could herald the start of a positive change in the way Democrats at least talk about the Middle East. But he was also able to get away with it because New York has changed so much. In 2011, Ed Koch came from seemingly nowhere to hijack the special election to replace Anthony Weiner in the House, turning it into a nationally viewed referendum on Obama’s Israel policies and costing Democrats what had seemed like a safe seat in the process. That was his last hurrah, and may have also been the last one for the staunchly pro-Israel Jewish Democrats who were once a dominant force in the party’s politics.
The Jews who remain in the party, especially those younger than 40 or so, are much more anti-Likud than the generation that’s been dying off (if Koch were still alive, he’d probably have popped off about Sanders’s comment, and we’d have stormed our way back to 1988 again).
On that one, Sanders showed that he’s more in touch with the current mindset of a crucial New York constituency than Clinton is.
Tomasky’s piece is a reminder of the power of individuals. Ed Koch and Abe Foxman. Foxman caused Sanders to have to fire Simone Zimmerman as Jewish outreach director. There are beneficent individuals, too. On the other hand, Foreign Policy has a long piece on Linda Sarsour’s support for Bernie Sanders, and the marvel of an aging Jewish politician bringing together people from so many different walks of life.
One last thing. Zionist speechwriters. My old boss Jared Kushner, owner of the New York Observer, wrote the speech that Trump delivered by Teleprompter to AIPAC last month– in which Trump said President Obama was the worst thing ever to happen to Israel– and it turns out that Kushner consulted with Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer to do so– the same Ron Dermer who lobbied on Capitol Hill against the Iran deal and managed to keep his diplomatic credentials!
Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer briefed Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner on Israel’s diplomatic and security issues days before Trump delivered a speech written by Kushner to the AIPAC conference last month, Haaretz reported on Sunday…
Haaretz said Trump’s AIPAC speech sounded in part like it was “taken verbatim from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s talking point sheet” thanks to this assistance.
(The Observer’s national political reporter, Ross Barkan, quit the newspaper because of the newspaper’s coziness with the Trump campaign. It must have cramped his style.)
Kushner is in a fine new American tradition. Gary Ginsberg, who is an executive at Time Warner, wrote several speeches for Benjamin Netanyahu of all people in recent years
Ginsberg is on the board of the Newseum in Washington. I was outside that institution the other day and took this shot. Notice that the limestone facade of the building has the Bill of Rights’ establishment clause. And meantime Gary Ginsberg, a member of its board, is writing speeches for the leader of a foreign, religious state surely in large part out of religious affinity. If this were the Christian right, not the Jewish right, it would be a scandal.
Thanks to Jewish Insider.