Senator Frank Lautenberg Dies at 89

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the last World War II veteran in the Senate, died today at the age of 89. (John Dingell (D-MI) and Ralph M. Hall (R-TX) are the two surviving World War II veterans in the House of Representatives.) He served in the Senate continuously in the years 1982-2001, and again since 2003.

  • Lautenberg wrote the legislation that set the national drinking age at 21. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this law saved 4,441 lives between 2003 and 2008.
  • His legislation has also lowered the blood alcohol level threshold for drunk driving to 0.08%.
  • During the Bush administration, Lautenberger repeatedly introduced legislation to close the terrorist loophole which allowed American companies to set up offices in the Cayman Islands and continue to do business with the National Iranian Oil Company.
  • A former two-pack-a-day smoker, Lautenberg wrote legislation that banned smoking on airplanes, federal buildings, and federally funded buildings that serviced children. This was one of the first restrictions on smoking in America.
  • The Senator also sponsored the legislation which bans access to firearms by people convicted of crimes of domestic violence.

After the jump: President Obama and Jewish organizations mourn the loss.

Lautenberg was the last World War II veteran in the United States Senate.

The White House issued the following statement by President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg, a proud New Jerseyan who lived America’s promise as a citizen, and fought to keep that promise alive as a senator.

The son of working-class immigrants, Frank joined the Army during World War II, went to college on the GI Bill, and co-founded one of America’s most successful companies. First elected to the Senate in 1982, he improved the lives of countless Americans with his commitment to our nation’s health and safety, from improving our public transportation to protecting citizens from gun violence to ensuring that members of our military and their families get the care they deserve.  Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to Bonnie, the Lautenberg family, and the people of New Jersey, whom Frank served so well.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Chair Marc R. Stanley issued the following statement:

The entire National Jewish Democratic Council family extends its deepest condolences to Senator Frank Lautenberg’s family, friends, and the people of New Jersey. The late Senator leaves behind a distinguished record of public and Jewish communal service that distinguishes him as a giant among American Jewish political leaders. He was a staunch defender of progressive ideals and a stalwart advocate for the State of Israel and the American Jewish community. Lautenberg was a true friend to NJDC and we will forever miss his wisdom and insight.

B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:

B’nai B’rith International mourns the passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). Lautenberg was a World War II veteran and a dear friend of the Jewish community. As a senator from New Jersey for more than 28 years, he was a staunch supporter of Israel, a champion of free emigration for Soviet and Iranian Jews, and a booster of the rights of Jewish refugees from the Middle East.

Lautenberg died the morning of June 3 at the age of 89 due to complications from viral pneumonia. He was the oldest member and the last World War II veteran to serve in Congress.

Lautenberg was a respected voice on many human rights issues, and he was key in enacting a number of health and safety laws.

The five-term senator was well respected amongst his colleagues and constituents. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Left to right: Joy Malkus, Marcia Balonick,
Sen. Lautenberg, and Betsy Sheerr

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs President Rabbi Steve Gutow and Chair Larry Gold said:

Senator Lautenberg’s passing is a loss for all of us and we will be forever grateful for his leadership, thoughtfulness and friendship. He exemplified the Jewish values of social justice and compassion which is why we were honored to award him the Al Chernin Award in 2007, in recognition of his leadership and service. With his death, we have lost the last veteran of World War II in the Senate and a Jewish and American leader who was clearly committed to a better world for all.

The Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said:

Frank Lautenberg was a staunch supporter of Israel and a leader in Jewish communal life. He served his country during World War II and in decades of dedicated public service. His work in the Senate helped thousands of Soviet Jews and other victims of religious persecution to reach freedom. He was a proud Jew and a proud American. May his family and friends be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Being a Republican Jew means never having to say you’re sorry

— by Steve Sheffey

They were wrong about the Republicans they told us to support who are leading the fight against gun control, wrong about President Obama and Israel, and wrong about Chuck Hagel. But don’t hold your breaths waiting for apologies from the Emergency Committee for Israel, the Republican Jewish Coalition, Protect Our Heritage PAC, and like-minded right-wing organizations.

More after the jump.
During Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearings, we were deluged with nonsense from the Emergency Committee for Israel, the Republican Jewish Coalition, Protect Our Heritage PAC and like-minded right-wing groups telling us how terrible Chuck Hagel would be for Israel.

And what happened? After his confirmation, Hagel issued a statement firmly reiterating our support for Israel and our commitment to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then Hagel went to Israel and finalized “a huge arms deal with Israel… under which Israel will for the first time be permitted to purchase US aerial refueling planes and other ultra-sophisticated military equipment that could prove vital to any Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

The Times of Israel reported that

Hagel stressed repeatedly that Israel has a sovereign right to decide for itself whether it must attack Iran. He made no mention of the possibility that an Israeli attack would draw the U.S. into the conflict and lead to a wider regional war.

“Israel will make the decision that Israel must make to protect itself, to defend itself,” Hagel said as he began a weeklong tour of the Middle East.

And what do we now hear from our right-wing friends about Hagel? Crickets. In a brilliant must-read article, Chemi Shalev concludes that

Hagel’s critics were wrong…they intentionally inflated some possibly objectionable remarks made by Hagel during a long career…they subjected him to a callous and vicious campaign of defamation and character assassination for cynical political reasons [and] they were ready, willing and able to destroy Hagel’s reputation in order to advance their political agenda and to vindicate the exact same kind of malicious vendetta that they had waged against Obama during the presidential election campaign.

But that can’t possibly be true, because by now Hagel’s critics would have owned up to their mistake and profusely apologized, no? That would be the honorable thing to do, and as Antony famously said of Brutus and his friends, “So are they all, all honorable men.”

Let’s remember how wrong our Republican friends were about President Obama and Chuck Hagel when the next round of Republican attempts to divide us by using Israel as a partisan wedge issue comes in 2014.

Chuck Hagel was right about George W. Bush.

Hagel said that George W. Bush was the worst president since Herbert Hoover. The opening of the Bush Library (insert your own joke here) has prompted some people to re-evaluate Bush, but Hagel was right. Bush was terrible. It would take a separate newsletter to go over all of Bush’s misdeeds, but consider at least this from Steve Benen:

there were terrorist attacks during Bush/Cheney’s tenure — after 9/11 — that shouldn’t be ignored. Indeed, it’s a little tiresome to hear Republicans argue in effect, “Other than the deadly anthrax attacks, the attack against El Al ticket counter at LAX, the terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush’s inability to capture those responsible for 9/11, waging an unnecessary war that inspired more terrorists, and the success terrorists had in exploiting Bush’s international unpopularity, the former president’s record on counter-terrorism was awesome.”

And finally, I’m not sure Republican pundits have fully thought through the wisdom of the “other than 9/11” argument.

Bush received an intelligence briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, at which he was handed a memo with an important headline: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

Bush, however, was on a month-long vacation at the time. He heard the briefer out and replied, “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.” A month later, al Qaeda killed 3,000 people.

And Bush’s record on Israel?

George W. Bush rebuked then-prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2003 by rescinding $289.5 million in loan guarantees for Israel as punishment for what Bush considered illegal settlement activity. In 2004, the Bush administration abstained rather than veto a UN resolution condemning Israel for its actions in Gaza during a military operation aimed at stopping terrorism and weapons smuggling.

Bush pressured Israel to allow Hamas to participate in Gaza elections, thus conferring on Hamas a legitimacy it could never have otherwise achieved. Perhaps worst of all, Bush made little progress in stopping Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons and he allowed North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons.

Rescinding loan guarantees, failing to veto anti-Israel UN resolutions, allowing enemy countries to obtain nuclear weapons–sounds just like what our Republican friends said Barack Obama would do if he were elected president. He didn’t. Bush did.

But if you don’t count what he did in office, George W. Bush was the greatest president in American history @LOLGOP.

All Mourn the Loss of Ed Koch

Update: Koch’s funeral was held yesterday (Monday). Speakers included:

  • Former President Bill Clinton,
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and
  • Israeli Consul-General Ido Aharoni

See video on the right.

In an official statement, President Barack Obama mourned the loss of Koch, who died Feb. 1 at the age of 88:

Ed Koch was an extraordinary Mayor, irrepressible character, and quintessential New Yorker. He took office at a time when New York was in fiscal crisis, and helped his city achieve economic renewal, expand affordable housing, and extend opportunity to more of its people. In public office and beyond, his energy, force of personality, and commitment to causes ranging from civic issues to the security of the state of Israel always informed and enlivened the public discourse. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Ed’s loved ones, and to the city that survives him.

Jewish organizations’ response after the jump.
Many Jewish organizations have also expressed their sorrow:

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) is deeply saddened by the news that former Representative and New York City Mayor Ed Koch (D-NY) has passed away. Koch was a consummate and proud Jewish Democrat who advocated fiercely for the U.S.-Israel relationship and the progressive domestic policies in which he truly believed. Koch’s leadership was vital in mobilizing Jewish voters in the 2008 and 2012 elections, and our community will not be the same without his prominent voice. Koch leaves behind an indelible legacy of public service and activism that has made our country a better place and strengthened America’s relationship with the Jewish State. His voice and his energy will truly be missed.

The Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said:

Mayor Koch was a passionate and principled leader and an outspoken defender of Israel and the Jewish community. He chose principle over politics and didn’t engage in partisan bitterness. In a long and controversial public career, he remained true to his commitment to do what was right for his constituents, his community, and his beloved State of Israel. The RJC was honored to work with Mayor Koch over the years. He was a patriot and we will miss him.

Bnai Brith International has released this statement:

Known for his plainspoken nature and charisma, Koch was mayor of New York City during a particularly troubled time and became the face of New York around the world.

During three terms as mayor, serving from 1978-1989, Koch connected with New Yorkers of every background. His eager query to New Yorkers, “How’m I doing?” became his signature.

Before his storied tenure as mayor, Koch served in the U.S. Congress from 1969-1977.

His forthright support for Israel, and his great pride in his Jewish faith, were always part of his persona.

So connected to New York that he insisted on being buried there, five years ago, he purchased a burial plot at Trinity Church Cemetery, the only cemetery in the city that had space. He even ordered and inscribed his tombstone, which features the final words said by Daniel Pearl, the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”

Sandra Kahn, co-founder of Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union), said:

Ed Koch played a massive role for the Jewish community of New York. Outside of him being a great Mayor for the city, he also played an influential role in bringing Russian Jewish immigrants to New York during the Russian waves of immigration. He was always open and understanding to all cultures in New York and was very welcoming to the Russian Jewish community, a community that contributed to the cultural mosaic of the city. The Jewish community is forever indebted to Mayor Koch.

The Russian-American Jewish community will honor the life of Koch at the annual Limmud FSU Summit in Princeton, NJ on March 15-17. He will be remembered at a special ceremony during the Summit, where his family will be invited to participate.

Hanukkah Happening: Israeli Singer Mika Karni & Band in Cnocert

Light the second Hanukkah candle on December 9, 2012 with Mika Karni and her band at Rodeph Shalom. This special performance called Kol Dodi (a name reminiscent of Karni’s use of biblical poetry from Song of Songs) brings together a unique musical ensemble of Israeli, Moroccan, Yemenite and Ethiopian musicians. Together they create a musical landscape reflecting Israel, a place where cultures from around the globe combine as one.

Co-Sponsored by: PhillyIsrael, Rodeph Shalom, Consulate of Israel in Philadelphia, The Israeli House, Temple Students for Israel. Collaborative, Renaissance, Moishe House Philadelphia and Reform Jewish Community (RJC).

More after the jump.
Location: 615 N. Broad st. Philadelphia Pa 19123

Post-Concert – Israel music andi Dancing with Rak-Dan

Community Wide Event: “Sharing Our Light Together”

5:30 – 7:15 PM Hanukkah Shuk (vendors – food, beverages, gifts etc..)

Pre paid VIP reception @ 6:30 – 7:15 PM

– 7:30 – Hanukkah candle lighting followed by “Kol Dodi” concert with Israeli singer Mika Karni and her band.
– General admission $18 in advance, $25 at the door.
Purchase your tickets online

Exit Polls of the Jewish Vote

A Century of Jewish Voting in America

One silver lining in the election for the Republicans was the Jewish Vote. Romney was supported by 30% of American Jews in this election, compared to 69% for Obama. Traditionally, Jewish voters lean Democratic and the last Republican to do this well was George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988 with 35% of the vote.

Three Organizations, Three Polls, Similar Results

The Associated Press’s National Exit poll this year was based on a survey of 26,565 voters including 4,408 who voted early or absentee. Only 2% of these voters were Jewish, so the sampling error on the Jewish vote is plus or minus 4.3%.

J-Street which describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people” did their own surveys.

JStreet notes that “President Obama’s 70% share of Jewish voters lines up exactly with the historic trend of support that Democratic Presidential candidates have received in the last 10 elections.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s survey shows similar results:

The survey, a national sample of 1000 Jewish voters, as well as a 600-person sample of Jewish voters in Ohio and a 600-person sample of Florida Jewish voters, shows Jewish support for the President dropped from 78% in 2008 to 69% last night.

The Republican share of the Jewish voted jumped nationally from 22 percent to 32 percent — an increase of almost 50 percent — and is part of a trend in which Republicans have gained market share among Jewish voters in five of the last six national elections. The ten-point gain is the largest gain since 1972.

“The RJC is encouraged by the gains we made in 2012 and by the continuing movement in the Jewish community toward the GOP. Despite the discouraging election results, we’re pleased by the gains we have made in the Jewish community,” said Matt Brooks.

It could have been worse

According to JStreet, “Tens of millions of dollars spent by Sheldon Adelson, the RJC, and others attacking President Obama on Israel backfired – 27% of Florida Jews said the ads made them more likely to vote for the President, and 63% said the attacks made no difference whatsoever.”

In fact, a survey of Jewish voters in Florida conducted by the Mellman Group around Labor Day showed Obama’s support as low as 61%.

This newly-released information shows the dramatic improvement in Obama’s Jewish vote performance in Florida between late September (then 61% for Obama, 33% for Romney) and Election Day (currently 68% for Obama in Florida, according to GBA Strategies; 66% for Obama in Florida, according to the AP exit poll). The shift during that 5-7 week period amounted to a shift in favor of the President’s Jewish vote margin of as much as 117,000 votes — a tremendous victory for NJDC’s targeted, strategic voter contact effort in Florida, and a mass rejection of the smear campaign waged by Republican Jewish groups.

In other words, Obama gained ground even as the RJC spent over eight million dollars on their “Buyers Remorse” advertising campaign.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)  President and CEO David A. Harris commented:

Knowing what we know of the state of the Jewish vote in late September, we are tremendously proud of what NJDC and our friends were able to do to put facts into the hands of so many Jewish Florida voters to make sure they were not taken in by this multi-million dollar effort of lies and smears against our President. We now know that over six weeks, a shift in the Jewish margin from Democrats to Republicans of up to 117,000 Jewish Floridians was stopped with the facts — plain and simple. NJDC mailed almost 400,000 pieces of fact-based mail into Florida in the final weeks of this campaign, and we called almost 70,000 Jewish households in Florida — all strategically, efficiently targeted at those persuadable Jews who could possibly fall victim to the smears circulated against the President. During that same time we ran print ads in Florida, and online banner ads, sponsored emails, and more — most only visible to residents in Florida, some only visible to carefully targeted, potentially undecided Jewish households. Through social media efforts and newly-unveiled websites and crucial web videos as well in the final days before Election Day, we powerfully targeted these undecided Florida Jews.

These were just some of the pieces in our strategic arsenal. But seeing the data today from GBA Strategies and the AP exit polls, and looking back at the data we were privy to 5-7 weeks ago from The Mellman Group, we can now say authoritatively that our work made a tremendous difference; we helped Florida’s Jews have the facts they needed to reject the lies and distortions being peddled by Republican Jews. The same can be said in Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin — the other battleground states where NJDC waged a carefully-targeted campaign. Following our efficient, strategic effort, we’re thrilled with the results: an overwhelming majority of American Jews have once again supported President Obama, and they have overwhelmingly rejected the campaign of smears and lies from the right.

Smears, Lies and Videotape: RJC and the Day after Yom Kippur

— by David A. Harris

It’s very said that on the day after Yom Kippur, Jewish Republicans have decided to jump right back into shamefully smearing the President’s record — on the same day in which the Israeli Prime Minister praised President Obama’s leadership and cooperation with Israel in front of the United Nations. Some of the experts featured in the video come from a small segment of the right wing, and are not reflective of Israel’s broad public opinion — let alone the leaders who have heaped praise upon the President. Worse, some of the key points in the video are factually misrepresented, including statements regarding President Obama’s support for Israel’s security, the scenes of Democrats, and statements regarding the so-called snub that never happened. This video offers nothing more than the same innuendo and smears that Jewish Republicans have tried to peddle for the last four years, and their smear campaign has not worked — and will not work.”

The video features many instances of distorted — if not factually incorrect — information.

  • The Israeli government has repeatedly debunked the snub myth from 2010. In fact, when NJDC issued a fact sheet authorized by the Israeli embassy debunking the myth, the Republican Jewish Coalition called the embassy-approved statements “BS.”
  • The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman, who is quoted in the video, has criticized prior instances of his quotes being cherry-picked for the sole purpose of making Israel a political football.
  • At 3:41, right wing pundit Barry Rubin contradicts statements by Israeli leaders who have effusively praised the President’s security cooperation with Israel, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak who said, “I should tell you honestly that this Administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”
  • The Democratic legislators featured in the video have all praised the President’s leadership when it comes to Israel and Iran — and are supporting his reelection.
  • The video repeats the right wing’s baseless attack on this Administration for upholding the same position on Jerusalem as his predecessors.

Republican Jewish Coalition Mobilizes in Philly, Boca & Cleveland

The Republican Jewish Coalition flew and bused volunteers to campaign yesterday Sunday, September 9 and today Monday, September 10 in three metropolitan areas:

  • Philadelphia and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
  • South-Eastern Florida, and
  • Cleveland, Ohio.

Ron Kampeas reports that this is part of a $6,500,000 microtargeting campaign funded in part by gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson (pictured right at the RJC “Friends of Israel” reception at the Republican National Convention).

Ohio (1.3% Jewish) and Florida (3.4% Jewish) are once again battleground states and are being hotly contested by the Romney and Obama campaigns. Pennsylvania (2.3% Jewish) has traditionally been a swing state, but lately it has been considered fairly safe for the Democrats, and accordingly Mitt Romney, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers’ Super-PACs “Restore Our Future”, “Crossroads GPS” and “Americans for Prosperity” all announced last week that they were pulling out of Pennsylvania and Michigan and concentrating their ad buys on more competitive states. We asked the RJC why they were skipping Nevada which is a very competitive state with a 2.8% Jewish population the most of any swing-state other than Florida, but Stu Sandler and Bill Wanger had no comment. (See comment posted below.)

The RJC invited us to observe their outreach effort in work in our area. Local members of the RJC were joined by supporters bused in from Bethesda, Maryland and the New York area. Some volunteers flew in from as far away as California.  In all about 400 Republicans were assembled at the Radisson Valley Forge Casino Resort.

During the breakfast, RJC leaders and volunteers were all eager to share the views with us. One deplored a “certain strain of the Jewish community that cares more about the Democratic party than about Israel.” I asked if she was referring to extreme elements of the grassroots or about any particular elected officials, and she cited Rep. Alysson Schwartz as an example saying

Allyson Schwartz will be a Democrat [sic] believer until the day she dies even if they start wearing brown shirts

(a reference to the color of the uniforms of the Strumabteilung which played a key role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power). Other members of the crowd echoed Lynne’s contempt for the Democratic Congresswomen and cited DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Former Rep. Robert Wexler, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro as “traitor to their faith.”

I discussed the Democratic and Republican party platforms with Lynne Lechter, Republican Committeewoman in Lower Merion and former candidate for the Pennsylvania Assembly (shown right at the National Women’s Committee of the RJC at the Green Valley County Club in 2009). Asked about the Republican platform which echoes Rep. Todd Akin’s support for a blanket ban on abortions without any exception for rape or incest, Ms. Lechter said that to her “platforms are not relevent. People don’t always agree with everything in the platform.” However, she felt that the original Democratic platform “underscored the hatred of Democrats for religion and Israel.”

More after the jump.

The volunteers were assembled into teams some for phone banking, literature drops and strategic sign waving.

  • Vans brought the RJC volunteers to various neighborhoods. Media from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, the Jewish Exponent, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the New Jersey Jewish News were taken to an affluent Jewish neighborhood in Gladwynne where we watched as a pair of volunteers left campaign brochures at the front door of each targeted home. They were instructed not to knock  or interact with voters, but simply to leave their literature and move on. The RJC began canvassing neighborhoods for the first time during the 2008 election. However, Stu Sandler said this outreach effort is larger and better targeted than their 2008 canvassing.
  • Other volunteers were assigned to “strategic sign waving.” For example, a pair of RJC volunteers was stationed outside the Obama for America office at 1 E. Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, PA waving signs reading “Oy vay, Obama.” (See photo below of a billboard in Southern Florida with a similar message.) OFA Field Director Jediah Grobstein asked them to not block the entrance, but other than that there was little interaction observed between the Democratic and Republican supporters.
  • A conference room at the Radisson was devoted to phone banking. The RJC used the same predictive dialing technology which Organizing for America used during the New York special elections of 2009. Volunteer phone bankers could stay on the phone as a computer connected them with one voter after another.

After the day of canvassing, the volunteers were treated to a private discussion with Congressmen Pat Meehan (R-PA7) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA8), and former Republican State Senator Bruce Mark, followed by Sunday Night Football as the Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19.

Photo of Republican Jewish Coalition billboard in South Florida

If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem: Both Parties Weaken Platform

GOP Weakens Israel Language in 2012 Party Platform

— by David A. Harris

Today we’re learning that the Republican Party removed strong language pertaining to Israel and Jerusalem from their party platform between 2008 and 2012, yet they have the temerity to point fingers at Democrats and President Barack Obama — the leader who has built a stellar pro-Israel record of accomplishment. Their hypocrisy is stunning, but not surprising.

In 2008, the GOP platform noted, ‘We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.’ In 2012, that language was gone. No reference to an undivided capital, no reference to America’s embassy — gone. Does this mean the Republican Party is suddenly anti-Israel? Of course not. But it does mean that GOP leaders pointing fingers are wildly hypocritical — given this change and others.

The original media report, according to Buzzfeed, appears below:

Republicans Also Dialed Back Platform’s Israel Language
The missing language: “Undivided” Jerusalem and an embassy move.
Democrats under fire for a similar move.

With Democrats trying to put out a fire around the party platform’s lack of specific language backing Israel that appeared in the 2008 version, a Democratic source points out that Republicans also toned down elements of their stance on Israel in the document.

A close ally of Mitt Romney, Jim Talent, beat back an attempt at the platform committee to remove a reference to the two-state solution last month.

There are also elements of the 2008 Republican platform absent from the 2012 version.

The key sentence present in 2008 and missing in 2012 is:

“We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.”

In both parties’ cases, the revisions don’t seem to reflect a dramatic policy shift, but rather attempts by party leadership to avoid foreign policy commitments in the non-binding political document.

In the first order of business today at the Democratic National Convention, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland moved to amend the 2012 Democratic platform to add the sentence: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” A voice vote was called by DNC Chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The delegates approved by more than the required two-thirds majority, so the amendment was adopted.

NJDC and RJC Sound Off On GOP Party Platform

Jewish Republicans Hail Platform as a “Forward-Looking Document”

While Republican Jews are praising the Republican Party platform as “a forward-looking document,” the NJDC highlights Stephen Henderson’s critique of the 2012 GOP platform:

There are no real shockers in the platform … But it’s certainly worth paging through just to see just how antisocial, anti-science and anti-reason the party’s core has become under the domination of Tea Party delegates. Taken on its own terms, this platform places the GOP not just outside the political mainstream, but beyond most cultural and societal American norms.

Many of the policies included in the platform — and ignored by Republican Jews — run counter to the beliefs of most American Jews and will help reinforce the reasons why American Jews will overwhelmingly support President Barack Obama this November.

Ezra Klein’s list of the 10 oddest things he found in the Republican platform follows the jump.

  1. Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment! Maybe…

    “In any restructuring of federal taxation, to guard against hypertaxation of the American people, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax.”

  2. Police the universities for liberal bias.

    “Ideological bias is deeply entrenched within the current university system. Whatever the solution in private institutions may be, in State institutions the trustees have a responsibility to the public to ensure that their enormous investment is not abused for political indoctrination. We call on State officials to ensure that our public colleges and universities be places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.”

  3. Defend the Electoral College at all costs.

    “We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College.”

    (See here for an explanation of the National Popular Vote compact.)

  4. End our dependence on foreign… fertilizer?

    “Our dependence on foreign imports of fertilizer could threaten our food supply, and we support the development of domestic production of fertilizer.”

    (For those curious, here‘s a longer analysis of America’s potential fertilizer woes.)

  5. Affirmative action for Republican officials inside the District of Columbia.

    “D.C.’s Republicans have been in the forefront of exposing and combating the chronic corruption among the city’s top Democratic officials. We join their call for a non-partisan elected Attorney General to clean up the city’s political culture and for congressional action to enforce the spirit of the Home Rule Act assuring minority representation on the City Council. After decades of inept one-party rule, the city’s structural deficit demands congressional attention.”

  6. Selective statehood.

    “We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state if they freely so determine.”

    So, good news for Puerto Rico. But don’t get too excited, D.C.:

    “We oppose statehood for the District of Columbia.”

  7. Step up the war against pornography.

    “Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced.”

  8. Innovation is all about freedom.

    “Liberty alone fosters scientific inquiry, technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and information exchange. Liberty must remain the core energy behind America’s environmental improvement.”

  9. Reconsider the gold standard.

    “Determined to crush the double-digit inflation that was part of the Carter Administration’s economic legacy, President Reagan, shortly after his inauguration, established a commission to consider the feasibility of a metallic basis for U.S. currency. The commission advised against such a move. Now, three decades later, as we face the task of cleaning up the wreckage of the current Administration’s policies, we propose a similar commission to investigate possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar.”

  10. No minimum wage for the Mariana Islands.

    “The Pacific territories should have flexibility to determine the minimum wage, which has seriously restricted progress in the private sector.”

Presidential Campaign Fail To Vet Their Supporters

The Obama and Romney campaigns are both being attacked today having failed to vet their list of supporters.

Meanwhile, Romney has similar problems of his own:

  • Dr. John Willke is the doctor who misinformed Rep. Todd Aiken that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” do not become pregnant because their bodies “shut down” due to the trauma. Aiken is under pressure to abandon his US Senate campaign against Claire McCaskill in Missouri for having given voice to such an ignorant, misogynistic point of view. Dr. Willke told The Telegraph that he had a private meeting with Mitt Romney at his Cincinnati home last October and that Romney thanked him for his support and told him, “we agree on almost everything.”

    The 87-year-old endorsed Mr. Romney’s bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and was one of his official campaign surrogates. “I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement,” Mr. Romney said at the time.

  • As we reported in June, the GOP selected Yossi Gestetner as their “Jewish Outreach Director” in New York. As reported by The Jewish Channel and Vos Iz Neias, “The newly appointed Director of Jewish Outreach for New York State’s Republican party has resigned from his position after just eight days in office, calling himself a distraction to the party.” The distraction? Espousing anti-Zionist positions, among others.

    As Vos Iz Neias notes,

    “According to a report by The Jewish Channel, Gestetner’s resignation came less than thirty minutes after Josh Rubin, a reporter for NY1, asked State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox about an investigation of Gestetner by The Jewish Channel, which conducted an hour long on-camera interview with Gestetner. During that interview, Gestetner discussed several issues that may put him at odds with both the Republican party and many of New York State’s 1.6 million Jewish residents, which include his being a spokesman at a fundraiser to benefit an alleged child molester, his controversial stance on referring suspected cases of child abuse to a rabbi before alerting the authorities, his views on government assistance programs and his work for Torah True Jews Against Zionism, an anti-Israel organization that states that Zionism is contrary to Torah Judaism.”