Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tevi Troy to Jewish Americans: Republican Party is a good home - "Come in, the water is fine."

Tevi Troy, a Orthodox Jew and an adviser to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, spoke to me Monday night, on my national security oriented online radio show streamed on The Mitt Romney Radio channel - on Mitt Romney, Israel, US Foreign policy and the Jewish Vote.

"Jews can be very comfortable with Mitt Romney."

The Jewish Vote shifts power balance to Brooklyn Republicans

(posted as an Op-Ed on GestetnerUpdates). The close race in Brooklyn's 27th State Senate district between Democrat Lew Fidler and Republican David Storobin still remains too close to call, with Storobin ahead with 37 votes. As absentee ballots are being counted and possible court challenges might delay the process, the winner has not been officially declared yet, yet the Republicans in the senate are confident that Storobin will at the end pull an upset and be sworn in as State Senator.

Regardless of the final outcome, the obvious conclusion adopted by the pundits and local party officials is, that the Brooklyn Republican party has made some significant inroads in Southern Brookyn. Largely, due to the heavy Orthodox Jewish and Russian communities, that despite being registered as Democrats cast their ballot for the Republican candidate. 

The political shakeup in Brooklyn by Congressman Turner and David Storobin is likely to change Brooklyn politics and shift power over to the Kings County Republicans. Selecting candidates that represent the Jewish community, run competitive races in districts with a heavy Jewish population, at the cost of incumbent Democrats and Jewish Democratic power brokers.

The Question that remains open is with regard to the super Jewish district, which is in talks with Senate Leaders and local officials. The candidate to be agreed upon remains wide open depending on the winner of the SD27 special election. If David Storobin wins and moves in to Boro Park, then it’s likely that he will be picked as the candidate in an open race, and may as well run on the Democratic line. 

Other names floating around as possible candidates if Fidler pulls an upset and wins in the final count, are Simcha Felder and Noach Dear that would rather run as an Orthodox conservative on the Democratic line, but might as well face a primary challenge by the Republican nominee that may choose to seek the Democratic nomination. Based on the fact that most registered democrats in Boro Park and Midwood are conservative oriented, and that a low turnout primary is basically as the general election turnout. 

The Bottom line is, that regardless of the issues brought up and the record presentation, the Jewish vote may yet again play a big factor in the upcoming election year. And may place the Democratic Party in Brooklyn and in upstate in a tough spot, of taking a chance losing a party picked candidate or an incumbent seat, or run candidates that represent the dramatic change of the dynamics in the district.

Follow me on Twitter: @jacobkornbluh

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meet The Candidates - my interview with the Republican and Democratic candidates running for the open NY State Senate seat in Brooklyn

Earlier today I conducted a one-on-one interview with the Republican and Democratic candidates running in next week’s special election, Tuesday March 20th, for the open State senate seat in the 27th district, once occupied by the disgraced Carl Kruger.

The candidates were asked the same questions, and were given an equal opportunity and chance to lay out their positions on the issues that matter for the community, and the district.

While the voters will be given their obligated duty to decide for whom to cast their vote for, The contrast between the two candidates on nearly every issue and topic that came up in this election season, couldn't of been more visible. And yes, even Israel came up as an issue.

The interviews in full will be published in this week edition of the Jewish Voice - Orthodox newspaper in Brooklyn, NY.

The online version will be posted as early as Thurs. am.

Below are some excerpts:

 On the Nazi comment:


Storobin:
"They know that he cannot appeal to the voters by discussing issues. As such, his campaign and its supporters resorted to character assassination. They said that I - a committed Jew and Zionist - was tied to the Nazis, before admitting it was untrue. They questioned whether I’m really Jewish. They’ve attacked my profession as an attorney with a false smear. They’ve even repeatedly attacked my mother with words I won't say here.


It's all just politics by someone who knows he's out of step with the district ideologically."
Fidler: 
"I regret using the word ‘ties’ instead of ‘links,' and the fact that Mr. Storobin got embarrassed by the terms I used. It indeed, was a poor choice of words. I’m sorry that I used it. But the fact of matter is that, Mr. Storobin twisted it, and used one word, in order to try and make a case out of it in a shameful way."

on Israel:

Storobin:
"As a state senator, I wouldn't have direct influence on it, but I could make my voice heard more than before...When I travel to Washington as a state senator to support Israel, I will be able to speak to more people and to get more attention to the issues I care about, such as Israel and global terror.

At the time that my opponent organized a demonstration for same-gender marriage organizations, to get them more taxpayer money. I chose to organize rallies for Israel instead."
Fidler:
"There is no more strenuous advocate for Eretz Yisroel than I am. I will speak out strongly on behalf of our friend and ally. And as I have done in the past, criticize members of any political party that fail to support Israel fully and forcefully. "
As a Debate moderator wannabe, I asked both of the candidates to point out at least one positive thing, they see in their opponent:

Fidler:
"I have no doubt that he is nice guy to hang out with. And hopefully, he will get involved in the future, contributing for the community."
Storobin:
"I've met his wife and she's a very nice lady. Mr. Fidler is a good speaker. And though I disagree with his ideology, it's clear that he believes."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

At Pro-Israel Conference, Republicans and Democrats Trade Barbs Over Obama’s Record

 “The current administration has distanced itself from Israel and visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause,” Mitt Romney, current Republican front-runner, told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. (Photo credit: Jeff Malet – www.maletphoto.com) “The current administration has distanced itself from Israel and visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause,” Mitt Romney, current Republican front-runner, told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. (Photo credit: Jeff Malet – www.maletphoto.com)
The race to the White House in an incumbent year, is always referred as a referendum on the sitting President’s record. But this year, as the battle for the Jewish vote is growing into a heated debate, both sides are using the same method to win the argument. While  the President is urging the pro-Israel community to take a close look at his record, his Republican contenders are highlighting that same record as proof of failure on the president’s part, and indicative of an historic low point in the unique American-Israel relationship.

While the theme of this year’s policy conference was centered on America and Israel’s shared values, the differences on policies, which have a profound effect on both Israel’s security and U.S.-Israeli relations, could not have been more visible.

The line that every speaker on the podium or at the breakout sessions repeatedly reiterated, was – “Israel’s security is unshakable,” and that “Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.”  But the approach that each side took as they brandished their pro-Israel credentials and were applauded by the 13,000 Jewish and pro-Israel attendees, attested to a partisan battle over the degree of American commitment to Israel and its security.

The most noticeable difference between this year and the last was President Obama’s record on Israel with regard to Iran heading into a heated election cycle. On one hand, the Republicans are seizing the opportunity to capitalize on Obama’s perceived weakness in this area, tilting the Jewish vote towards the GOP, while the Democrats are aggressively pushing back the critics and defending the president’s record. In a year where every vote could decide the election in swing states with a larger Jewish population, this places President Obama in a somewhat precarious position.

In an attempt to win over disappointed pro-Israel voters, President Obama sought to bolster his position by emphasizing his commitment to Israel.  Anxiously proclaiming that his record over the past three years in office is very noticeable, “at every crucial juncture, at every fork in the road, we have been there for Israel. Every single time,” he noted.

“You don’t just have to count on my words. You can look at my deeds,” he said, noting increased U.S. spending on defense aid to Israel, improved sharing by the two nations on intelligence and military matters, and his administration’s support during diplomatic crises in the Middle East.

Not letting the President set the stage and narrative of the argument, The Republican leaders and presidential candidates clearly dismissed that notion, by suggesting that the Obama administration had abandoned Israel by allowing the Islamic regime to go on enriching uranium as one step ahead before obtaining nuclear capabilities.

“This president not only dawdled in imposing crippling sanctions. He has opposed them,” Romney said in his speech on Tuesday.

“The current administration has distanced itself from Israel and visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause,” Mitt Romney, current Republican front-runner, told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“As I’ve sat and watched this play out on the world stage, I have seen a president who has been reticent,” Rick Santorum assailed the President. “He says he has Israel’s back. From everything I’ve seen from the conduct of this administration, he has turned his back on the people of Israel.”

The DNC anticipated the Republican claim by releasing an online video to members of the media and specifically Jewish press and activists that shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying, “President Obama spoke about his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. He rightly said that our security cooperation is unprecedented, and he has backed those words with deeds.” The video aims to quell concerns over Obama’s approach to Iran and his commitment to Israel. “The bond between the U.S. and Israel—it’s always been beyond politics. But now Washington Republicans are breaking that tradition,” the voice-over says. “Launching negative ads that the Associated Press says ‘ignore reality.’ The facts? Under President Obama U.S. funding for Israel is at an all-time high. Billions for Israel’s security.”

Another online video included clips of Obama telling AIPAC on Sunday that he, like Romney, would try to prevent Iran from going nuclear.
In a DNC conference call on Tuesday morning, Senator Chuck Schumer defended President Obama’s clear and strong commitment to stop Iran from  acquiring nuclear capabilities, and at the same time took a shot at Mitt Romney, saying “Romney’s critics of Obama is a “deliberate distortion of the truth, dishonest and dangerous.” emphasizing that his positions are - “empty rhetoric, which are recklessly dividing Americans. That doesn’t serve the national interest of the U.S. and Israel.”

Robert Wexler, also on the conference call graded Obama’s record on Israel as an A+ - for simply “being there for Israel, at moment when it was greatly needed”.

Matt Brooks, the Executive Director of the Republican Jewish coalition, when asked to respond to the Democrats defense of the President and their dismissal of the Republican criticism, noted that “there is a degree of concern about Iran, not only among Israelis but also among the American Jewish community, as for the resolve of the President to confront the Iranian issue with an effective approach.”

“Basically, the President in his AIPAC speech was advising Israel to hold back on any military action, in order to allow some more time for diplomacy and sanctions to convince the Iranians to abandon their intentions. This has been going on for 10 year and is not working.”  And it’s the sole responsibility of Prime Minister, Brooks points out, noting Netanyahu’s commitment that “Israel is unwilling to outsource their own security to anyone, even to its closest ally.”

As for the Jewish vote in the general election, Brooks is convinced that in the battleground states that contain a large amount of Jewish voters, not necessarily historical Republican voters that have voted for Obama in 2008, are now deeply committed in voting for the eventual Republican nominee.  And by that, the Republican Party might be able to score electoral victories, all depending on the message and the prime focus of the pro-Israel/Jewish electorate.