Yesterday the New York Times ran a piece on all the Democratic presidential prospects visiting New York to raise money: “The First 2020 Race Is Underway: Scrambling for New York Donors.” A candidate needs “to construct a $30 million war chest by the end of 2019,” Shane Goldmacher wrote.
New York will be crucial to that task. More than $500 million came from the New York City area to political campaigns in the last full election — the most of any single metropolitan region in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics…. The road to the White House runs down 57th Street.
The article mentions a handful of New York fundraisers and donors, and most of them are pro-Israel. Though the article doesn’t delve into that.
There’s Robert Zimmerman — “a prominent New York donor and a member of the Democratic National Committee who has been in touch with multiple prospective candidates.” Robert Zimmerman was enraged when President Obama allowed the Security Council resolution condemning settlements to go through in 2016. NY Post:
“Congress should investigate how the vote on this resolution came about,” Democratic National Committee member Robert Zimmerman told The Post.
Zimmerman, a DNC super delegate and fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, said… the U.S. abandoned Israel and left the Jewish state to the mercies of hostile UN officials.
“I was surprised and absolutely confounded by it. It was frustrating, disappointing and egregiously wrong. The vote certainly will hurt the Mideast peace process. Peace has to come through direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Zimmerman said.
There’s Sarah Kovner: “an influential Democratic fund-raiser in the city, [who] said she ignores those too focused on the presidential campaign.” Sarah’s husband Victor is a founder of J Street, and he identified himself and his wife in 2009 as liberal Zionists who love Israel and disdain the settlement project.
There are two donors who have been friendly to Elizabeth Warren:
The night after Mr. Biden’s April visit, Ms. Warren mingled with donors at the Manhattan home of Mark Green, a former New York City public advocate, the official reason being her 2018 re-election bid (for which she has already stockpiled $15 million). A few months earlier, Meyer S. Frucher, the vice chairman of Nasdaq, hosted another fund-raising reception for Ms. Warren, according to people familiar with the gatherings.
Mark Green defended Israel during the 2008-2009 onslaught on Gaza, refusing to criticize it for killing children. Meyer “Sandy” Frucher has promoted Israeli companies on the Nasdaq, many a time. And been an advocate for the Israeli economy. Back in the ’70s, he used support for Israel as a wedge issue when he managed the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s successful campaign for Senate from New York.
Warren is a big progressive, but she issued only a tepid statement on the Gaza slaughter in April, not even calling them killings.
“I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza. As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.”
California Senator Kamala Harris is also mentioned in the Times article:
That summer, Michael Kempner, a public-relations executive and top Democratic bundler, hosted an event for her at his spread in the Hamptons.
Kempner has done pro-Israel fundraising for Democratic candidates in the past, and his firm MWW signed a PR contract with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism two years ago. From Jewish Insider:
MWWPR will develop and execute a strategic communications program designed to proactively promote Israel as a top tourist destination for North American travelers… MWW is headed by Michael Kempner, a top fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, President Obama and the Democratic Party. Kempner is listed as a “Hillblazer,” having raised more than $100,000 for Clinton’s presidential campaign last year.
Ronald Perelman also supported Kamala Harris, per the Times.
Ronald Perelman, the billionaire donor, organized a fund-raiser for Ms. Harris’s PAC at the offices of his company, MacAndrews & Forbes, last December. Earlier in the year, Mr. Perelman, who contributes to both Republicans and Democrats, had another ambitious Californian, Mr. Garcetti, for a cocktail hour among donors at his estate in the Hamptons
Perelman is a leading supporter of Israel. He supported Lindsey Graham in the last cycle in part because of Israel, to the point that Graham joked about his reliance on Jews who love Israel: “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.”
It would appear that Harris is positioning herself to the right of Elizabeth Warren. Harris has said nothing against the Gaza slaughter. Last year she gave a speech to the Israel lobby group AIPAC, saying that Israel made the desert bloom. Jewish Voice for Peace has called on Harris to say something/anything condemning the slaughter in Gaza.
The importance of pro-Israel Jewish donors to the Democratic Party is a big unspoken secret of American politics. Peter Beinart writes in the Forward that Bernie Sanders is more outspoken on Israel than Warren and Harris et al in part because they are dependent and he is not on “Jewish establishment” donors.
He knows that his likely 2020 competitors are moving left on issue after issue… But he knows that when it comes to Israel, those competitors are constrained by their fears of the American Jewish establishment. Bernie Sanders, who now stands a better chance of becoming president than any Jew in American history, is not afraid.
The importance of these donors was also a theme of a J Street forum on the politics of Israel in 2016 at which J.J. Goldberg pointed out that 13 of the 14 top funders of Democratic causes are Jewish. “There was one non-Jew who was giving big money to the Democrats. That’s gigantic in the terms of American politics. If Bernie Sanders sets a new model, then this may change, and the weight of Jews in the political system may go down,” Goldberg said.
Israel is likely to be an issue that divides the Democratic establishment from the grassroots in the 2020 cycle. To the point that the press may begin to talk openly about big donors’ affinities.