Mitt Romney and Ron Paul “Concerned” Over Nevada Kosher Caucus

Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational CampusWe recently broke the news about a special caucus being organized in Las Vegas, Nevada after sundown so that observant Jews could participate in Nevada’s Republican Caucus.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, approximately 500 voters — most of whom are Jewish — are expected to attend the event, which will be held at a Jewish day school.

While there had been mixed reporting previously surrounding the campaign’s reactions, the San Francisco Chronicle most recently reported that “officials in the campaigns of both former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Representative Ron Paul are privately expressing concern about the decision” to hold the Saturday night caucus that will enfranchise a large number of observant Jewish Republicans.

Candidates Attack Newt For Calling Palestinians “Invented People”

On The Jewish Channel, Newt Gingrich characterized the Palestinians as “an invented people”. During yesterday’s ABC Republican Presidential Debate, he was asked to clarify these remarks.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA):

Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. We are in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States — the current administration — tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process….

Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists, they teach terrorism in their schools…. It’s fundamentally the time for somebody to have the guts to say enough lying about the Middle East.


House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-GA) shakes hands with “invented person” Yasser Arafat following the signing of the September 1993 Oslo accords.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX):

That’s just stirring up trouble.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA):

I happen to agree with most of what the speaker said except by going and saying that the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part…. We’re gonna tell the truth, but we’re not gonna throw incendiary words into a — a place which is — a boiling pot when our friends the Israelis would probably say, “What in the world are you doin’?”

The Jewish Channel video of Gingrich follows the jump.

Romney Backer Lobbied for Arab Bank


Arab Bank  Investigated by Bush Treasury for Links to Terrorism

— by David Streeter

JTA’s Ron Kampeas provided additional reporting yesterday on the story of Patrick Cave-a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney-and the lobbying work that Cave did on behalf of the Arab Bank. The Arab Bank was investigated for links to Palestinian terrorism by the Bush Administration’s Treasury Department and paid a significant fine to settle with the Treasury.

Kampeas’ full article appears the jump.
Why did Romney fundraiser continue to lobby for Arab Bank?

— by Ron Kampeas, JTA

Ben Smith at Politico reported Monday that a fundraiser for Mitt Romney, Patrick Cave, lobbied for the Arab Bank, which has faced accusations that it was used as a conduit for funneling money for Palestinian terrorist groups. The allegations prompted a Treasury Department investigation several years ago.

Regarding his lobbying, Cave tells Politico:

We encouraged [Arab Bank] to settle with the Treasury Department and cooperate with the Treasury Department and we were successful in communicating to the Congress any concerns they may have about the business.

I followed up with Cave, who told me he had nothing to add, in part because the bank’s no longer a client. (He last reported lobbying for the Arab Bank in 2008.)

According to USA Today, the Jordanian-based Arab Bank settled with the Treasury in August 2005, paying a $24 million fine, without admitting wrongdoing. The Treasury, USA Today reports, alleged that there were ‘serious’ weaknesses in the bank’s controls to prevent money-laundering and terrorist financing. The USA Today article also reported that ‘Arab Bank agreed in February [2008] to virtually shut down its New York office.’

The bank has faced lawsuits from families of victims of terrorist attacks. Among other things, the suits alleged that the bank facilitated the transfer of Saudi money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

According to this Jerusalem Post story from September of this year, the lawsuits are still very much alive.

Citing lobbyist disclosure forms, Politico reported that Cave’s company, the Cypress Group, had been paid by the bank for ‘its help managing congressional inquiries about the lawsuits.’

I’ve seen the lobbying filings: Cave’s lobbying, according to the 2008 filing, was for ‘issues related to the Bank Secrecy Act.’ The Act ‘requires financial institutions to keep records of cash purchases of negotiable instruments, file reports of cash transactions exceeding $10,000 (daily aggregate amount), and to report suspicious activity that might signify money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities.’ In total Cave’s company was paid $323,000 for its work for Arab Bank.

Cave is a co-host of a $500-per-person fundraising event for the Romney campaign taking place tomorrow morning in Washington.

I asked the Romney campaign for comment on Monday and have yet to hear from them.

Time’s Klein: Romney “Wrong on Israel”


— by David Streeter

Time’s Joe Klein sharply criticized Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for continuing to perpetuate falsehoods about President Barack Obama’s strong record of support for Israel. Romney claimed today that “U.S.-Israeli relations have hit a low not seen since the Jimmy Carter years,” and repeated the false attack regarding Obama’s stance on Israel’s borders.

Klein wrote in response to Romney:

When he’s having a tough time-as he is this week-Mitt Romney’s first instinct is to attack President Obama. … But Romney’s execution is usually clunky. Last week, we had the Romney ad that pretended Barack Obama was saying something that John McCain had actually said-McCain wanted to avoid talking about the economy in 2008, a brilliant strategy. That was skeevy in the extreme, especially after it became clear that the Romney staff thought the controversy over their unscrupulousness would work in their favor (tone deaf politicians always assume the public is stupid enough to buy such stuff).

This week we have another example. Romney’s press office [put out a] statement about the President and Israel…

Actually, US-Israeli relations are better than they were when George H.W. Bush was President and Secretary of State Jim Baker threatened to cut off aid if Israel didn’t stop expanding its illegal settlements on the West Bank, and (then) in Gaza. And among the few good things Jimmy Carter accomplished overseas was the Camp David Accords, which has provided a generation of peace between Israel and Egypt, a peace now jeopardized by the Arab Spring.

The other inaccuracy-alluded to [in Romney’s statement] but expounded upon in Romney’s stump speeches-is the notion that Obama wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders. He doesn’t. He wants the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, to be the basis for peace negotiations. Somehow, Romney neglects to mention the land swaps.

The fact is, Obama’s policy toward Israel has been in line with that of every US President since Nixon. No American President has favored the annexation of any Arab lands. The fact is that US-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation, especially when it comes to sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program, has never been greater….

One would hope that Romney, as one of the few plausible Republican candidates, would eschew such cheesy behavior…would not misrepresent Obama’s positions on foreign policy so gleefully. But, if this race continues to slip away from him, I suspect that’s exactly what we’ll continue to see.

   

Biden Wrongly Accused in Jewish Press of Flip-Flop on Pollard Pardon


Jonathan Pollard tried unsuccessfully to sell the classified documents to Australia before approaching Israel.

Mr. Biden clearly opposed a Pollard pardon in March 2007.

— Rabbi Mark S. Golub, President, Shalom TV

Last week, a number of Jewish media sources ran a story suggesting Vice President Joe Biden had changed his position on a pardon for Jonathan Pollard when he told a Jewish group in Florida that he opposed freeing the American Jew imprisoned for passing classified information to the State of Israel. For example, Israel National News suggested that the Vice President was simply protecting President Obama in a piece entitled Biden Flip-Flopped on Pollard, Took the ‘Hit’ for Obama. The story’s opening sentence read: “US Vice President Joe Biden ‘took the hit’ for President Obama to oppose freedom for Jonathan Pollard.”

This story also ran in similar fashion in the JTA, Ynet and IMRA; and I have seen it echoed by various blogers.

I have been especially surprised by these reports of a Biden “flip flop” on a Pollard pardon since the source cited as proof of the Vice President’s change of position is an interview I conducted with him for Shalom TV in March 2007 when Mr. Biden was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination (video after the jump).

I am surprised because the stories seriously distort Mr. Biden’s unequivocal opposition to a Pollard pardon by emphasizing one sentence out of context–while ignoring the unambiguous thrust of Mr. Biden’s position which he clearly articulated in that March 2007 interview.

In direct answer to my question on a pardon of Jonathan Pollard, Mr. Biden began by saying, “He has to serve his sentence, he has to serve his sentence.”

In almost every story quoting his Shalom TV appearance, this part of Mr. Biden’s answer is omitted.

Rather, in a somewhat irresponsible fashion, clips now appear on the internet which only include one sentence of Mr. Biden’s response, in which he said: “Now there is a rationale in my view why Pollard should be given leniency.”

News sources have used this single sentence to suggest that during his bid for the Democratic nomination in 2007, Mr. Biden supported a pardon for Pollard.

But if one listens to Mr. Biden’s complete answer to the Pollard question, it becomes clear that he was not equating “leniency” with a “pardon;” and that in 2007 he was adamantly opposed to any pardon of Jonathan Pollard.

Here are Mr. Biden’s complete words from that March 2007 interview:

Now there is a rationale in my view why Pollard should be given leniency. There’s a rational for that. But there is not a rationale to say, ‘No, what happened did not happen and he should be pardoned.’… If I were president, to go and pardon Pollard would make a lie out of the notion that there are certain rules, period. You cannot give classified information, period. Even to a friend. If this were Great Britain it would be the same thing. So the standard has to be maintained.

One may agree or disagree with Mr. Biden on the issue of a pardon for Jonathan Pollard; but Jews should not be misled into thinking Mr. Biden has changed his mind on the matter. There is something disappointing about a Jewish news source presenting one sentence of an interview out of context and using it to create an erroneous impression.

JTA, WaPost, Conservative Blogger, And ThinkProgress Agree On Discredited Jewish Opinion Poll

–by David Streeter

We wanted to make sure that you saw the growing consensus — now from JTA’s Ron Kampeas, The Washington Post’s Polling Manager Peyton Craighill, conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, and ThinkProgress — regarding the discredited McLaughlin and Cadell poll that falsely claims American Jews are abandoning President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

JTA refers to this as “an expensive push poll;” the Post’s polling manager describes it as “a clear example of advocacy polling;” ThinkProgress http://thinkprogress.org/secur… a fascinating conflict of interest, in which the pollsters are themselves founders of the organization that commissioned the poll; and even conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin notes, “I share criticism that some of the questions in the recently released Caddell-McLaughlin poll were quite tilted, shedding doubt on the utility of the poll.”

JTA’s Ron Kampeas wrote about the poll:

[Q]uestions are almost as grievously skewed: ‘Should Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of Israel or should the United States force Israel to give parts of Jerusalem, including Christian and Jewish holy sites, to the Palestinian Authority.’

Who has proposed that, precisely? Not Obama — not anyone serious.

That makes this an expensive push poll.

The other problem is this question:

Would you vote to re-elect Barack Obama as President or would you consider voting for someone else?

More after the jump.
Tevi Troy at National Review describes the 43-48 results as showing ‘that only 43 percent of Jews plan to vote to reelect Obama in 2012.’

Of course it shows nothing of the sort. First of all, incumbents always fare relatively poorly against generics of the opposing party. Except, this isn’t even a generic of the opposing party — it’s ‘someone else.’ It could be a Democrat in the primaries. It could be an independent.

And more critically, the respondents are saying they would ‘consider voting’ for someone else. I can’t see how every Independent responding, and not a few Democrats, would not ‘consider’ voting for another candidate.

Again, it’s meaningless.

The Washington Post’s Polling Manager Peyton Craighill said:

[The poll] ‘is a clear example of advocacy polling. They’ve generated leading questions to elicit a desired result to prove a point. In no way does this represent neutral, independent research.’

Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, Craighill’s colleague at The Washington Post, agreed with him and offered her own criticism of the poll:

I share criticism that some of the questions in the recently released Caddell-McLaughlin poll were quite tilted, shedding doubt on the utility of the poll. But a fuller context for the effort to poll American Jews is long overdue.

Peyton Craighill, The Post’s polling manager, doesn’t merely take issue with this poll. He offers some important cautions about efforts to poll a very small segment of the electorate.

ThinkProgress uncovered a potential conflict of interest during its investigation of the poll:

ThinkProgress looked at the organization commissioning the poll – Secure America Now – and uncovered a potential conflict of interest for the pollsters….

ThinkProgress asked John McLaughlin about Secure America Now and he told us:

Pat [Caddell] and I worked with [Secure America Now] to do the survey. […] They paid for it.

A little research revealed an article on the conservative Big Peace website from February, discussing how Secure America Now was founded by John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell to ‘inject national security issues into the public dialogue.’

McLaughlin acknowledged his leadership role at Secure America Now in a phone conversation today…

The poll makes no mention of the fact that an organization Caddell described as ‘a grassroots place where people can join up and begin to do things to force [national security and foreign policy] issues into the debate,’ commissioned its own founders to conduct the poll.

Clearly, the McLaughlin and Cadell poll is simply too flawed to be taken seriously.

Keep in mind that Gallup found last week that American Jews are not only supportive of Obama, but that they remain the President’s strongest supporters. NJDC’s statement on the Gallup poll, as well as the full release from Gallup, can be viewed here.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this poll, or any of the other recently debunked polls.

Survey of Jewish Voters

According to the JTA, Prof. Steve Windmueller is conducting a Jewish Voter Survey to measure changing Jewish political interests.

The anonymous survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete, will examine the political priorities of Jews and where they allocate their financial resources with regard to their support of political causes, both Jewish and mainstream. It will look at variables including income, geographical region, age, religious affiliation and education.

The study also seeks to discover how and where Jews acquire their political ideas and knowledge, and analyze how they define themselves with regard to specific political labels. The research also will focus on understanding the level and depth of engagement that Jews have with the State of Israel and other core social and policy issues.

“I am particularly interested in seeing if we are in the midst of a political sea-change within the American Jewish community,” Windmueller said in a statement.

We strongly urge you to click on the following link and take the survey before the April 1 deadline.

Windmueller is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.