For weeks, I’ve been reading about the sleazy campaign waged by the Republican Jewish Coalition against Democratic candidates in the upcoming midterm election. I wasn’t going to comment about this initially because I saw it as a side issue. But I just saw two full page ads in the local Seattle Jewish paper, JTNews by the group and my sense of outrage was too great to restrain it.
The National Jewish Democratic Council circulated an e mail this wake about the RJC’s campaign noting that it cost them $1-million (update: the RJC has just announced it’s “expanding” the campaign, meaning it’s throwing bad money after worse). NJDC’s director, Ira Forman, was almost gleeful in recounting the failure of the campaign:
If this is what you get with $1 million in RJC ad buys, I hope that they spend $2 million in 2008.”
And I’ve got to agree with him.
When I first heard about the campaign I said to myself: “I can see Republicans pumping money into a campaign to wrest Jews from the Democratic Party if they had a centrist candidate who might appeal to centrist Jewish Democrats. But what do they think they’re bringing to the table in this election cycle that would make Jews jump into the arms of the Republican Party? Do they know something I don’t? I’d say this is pretty much the worst time in recent U.S. history to launch such a campaign. You’ve got the most radical right-wing president in several generations in power. Jews don’t like radicals of either the right of the left. So what’s to be gained here?”
In the Letters to the Editor section of JTNews, prominent Jewish philanthropist (and Democrat) Rob Spitzer threw up some interesting statistics thus sealing my case for me. The American Jewish Committee’s 2006 survey of American Jewish opinion:
Indicates that not withstanding the RJC’s campaign, the number of Jewish…Democrats has increased from 48% to 54% since the…2002 [election]…The number of Jewish…Republicans has decreased from 18%…to 15%…The number of Jewish voters who identify themselves as liberal has increased from 37%…to 42%…The number…who identify themselves as conservative has decreased from 29% to 25%…
To give you a notion of the questionable reasoning used in these ads let’s take examples from both ads in the JTNews. The first is a reference to an LA Times/Bloomberg (the ad mistakenly refers to it as the “Los Angeles/Bloomberg Poll”) poll question:
Which of the following questions comes closer to your view: “The U.S. should continue to align itself with Israel” or “The U.S. should adopt a more neutral posture”…
To which, 64% of Republicans said they wanted a U.S. alignment with Israel while only 39% of Democrats did. The ad tagline: “Republicans are more likely to support Israel.” Which of course is patently false. First, 85% (that’s my educated guess and not based on any poll) of the Democratic Party and its Congressional representatives are in Aipac’s hip pocket. But that’s beside the point. Even more importantly, the RJC conveniently ignores the difference between supporting Israel, which the vast majority of Democrats do; and wanting the U.S. to align its foreign policy interests with Israel, which the majority do not. Admittedly, it’s not a bright-line distinction. it requires some elementary thought process to understand the difference between the two concepts. But ultimately, only someone semi-comatose or a willful political charlatan would deliberately misunderstand them.
The other oddity was the full page ad on behalf of Mike McGavick, the Repubican U.S. Senate candidate: “Mike McGavick, when you stand up for Israeli you do not stand alone.” Among the other points it made was this questionable one:
When many members of Congress said we should not take sides [against Hezbollah]–YOU STOOD WITH US.”
Excuse me, but only 8 House members voted against supporting Israel during the Lebanon war. In the Senate, the vote was unanimous. So where are the “many members of Congress” who voted against the pro-Israel resolution?? Simply put, they don’t exist. More lies and damn lies.
And further regarding Lebanon, what the RJC neglects to tell you is that the AJC survey found that only 55% of American Jews “approved…of the way the Israeli government handled the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon?. So if fully 35% disapproved, then why would it be a shande for eight House members to vote against a simplistic propaganda resolution waving the flag on behalf of Israel during the most disastrous war it ever fought?
Click here to see more of the RJC’s travesties and calumnies.