Mitt Romney has promised to visit Israel in first foreign visit after inaugurated as the 45th President of the united States. Yet, it looks like Romney has decided to follow the advice of various Jewish groups, that have called on the Republican nominee to visit Israel during the election season, which would be first and foremost a significant bi-partisan boost to the US-Israel relationship, and politically would help Romney with the Jewish vote in the battleground states.
As reported first by the New York Times, and confirmed by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s senior advisor, Romney is expected to visit Israel this summer following trip to the Olympic games in London, and meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“Mr. Romney, who has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel, is also expected to meet with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; President Shimon Peres of Israel; the American ambassador, Daniel B. Shapiro; and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem. He plans to have at least one public event in a trip that will likely last less than two days.
“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” said Ron Dermer, Mr. Netanyahu’s senior adviser, who worked with Republicans in the United States before immigrating here. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”
For Mr. Romney, the trip is an opportunity to appeal both to Jewish voters and donors, whose overwhelming support of President Obama has softened, according to some polls, and to evangelical Christians, whose trust he is still fighting to win. At the March conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby known as Aipac, Mr. Romney vowed that Israel would be the destination of his first foreign trip as president, underscoring the fact that Mr. Obama has not visited here since his election, a sore spot among some Israel supporters.
While the visit could distract from the Republicans’ main line of attack against Mr. Obama, the economy, it is an opportunity for Mr. Romney, who as a former governor has little foreign policy experience, to play the statesman.
Mr. Dermer said the men would probably meet over a meal at the prime minister’s residence, though details have not yet been decided.
“The prime minister meets Democratic and Republican officials alike,” he said. “I’m sure they want to broadcast a very strong relationship with Israel, and Israel wants to broadcast a very strong bipartisan relationship with both sides of the aisle.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) applauded Gov. Mitt Romney’s decision to visit Israel this summer and meet with Israeli leaders, in a press release this afternoon.
RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, “Having hosted Gov. Romney on a previous visit to Israel in 2007, the RJC knows firsthand how strong his commitment is to the Jewish homeland and we are thrilled that he will reinforce that commitment at this important time.”
While the visit will illustrate the stark diffrerences between Gov. Romney and President Obama, in terms of the relationship with Israel, and by large, the U.S. foreign policy approach, it will certainly drive registerd voters, currently residing in Israel to cast their absentee ballots in support of Romney, especially if it is a close race.
Having done that will definetly boost Romney foreign policy credentials. Nonetheless, the right investment, and the nessecary attention has to be shifted and directed at the Jewish community in New York.
What should draw attention to the Mitt Romney campaign is the growing Jewish population in New York city and it’s outskirts. Jewish support for the Republican party has grown dramatically since 2008, a recent Pew research survey showed.
Jewish voters, who have traditionally been and remain one of the strongest Democratic constituencies, have moved noticeably in the Republican direction; Jewish voters favored the Democrats by a 52-point margin in 2008 but now prefer the Democratic Party by a significantly smaller 36-point margin, (65 to 29).
“The increase among Jews is greater than in the general public, and greater than the increase in an number of other religious groups,” said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at Pew.
The most significant shift towards the Republicans, is the latest Siena Research poll of New York voters, which showed a 22 percent decline in the President’s support among Jewish voters in only one month. President Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney in New York State has shrinked to 8 points - 51% to Romney’s 43%. In general Romney’s support among Jewish voters nationwide is currently in the 30 percent range, according to multiple polls published recently.
Much of that can be attributed to the fact that the Jewish population in NYC has grown to 13 percent in 2011, according to a study, sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, and conducted by Jewish Policy & Action Research, led by Dr. Steven Cohen. The figures in the study, show the New York area with the largest Jewish population anywhere outside of Israel. In Brooklyn 1 out of 4 resident’s are Jewish.
What is even more noticeable in the study, is that fact that Orthodox-Ultra orthodox Jews compromise 40 percent of Jewish residents in NYC.
So, While Israel has been discussed as a driving factor, especially in the Bob Turner race last September, the poll numbers suggest that this is not the number one concern come election day. Yet, the question still remains what did Orthodox Jews suddenly find so in common with the Republican party?
Joe Braunold raises an interesting query, which is asked by several operatives in discussions over the Jewish vote : Will the Orthodox Jewish vote go against the community’s economic interests and toward Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney due to his social conservatism?
The famous wealthy Jewish vote, with its unbreakable ties to the Democratic base, has always been an outlier when it came to economic voting, Brauanhold suggests. Though higher up in the socio-economic scale, the Jewish vote has been solidly Democratic, even if it would at times ask for them to pay more in tax and redistribute more of their wealth to welfare.
“Though many of the Orthodox communities feel social affiliates with that of the modern day Republican party, their reliance on community programs that need government grants in order to run puts them at odds with the small government agenda. The Orthodox community has risen to make up 42 percent of the Jewish poor. Poverty has risen 86 percent in Jewish households since the last survey was done. Will they vote Republican even though all economic indicators should place them solidly in the Democratic base?”
The answer is very simple: Just take a look at the poverty rate, at the unemployment rate, and at the numbers of small businesses closing down on a daily basis, which will tell you a lot of how dependent we can be, and rely on the long-time ruling of the Democratic party, especially in NY.
If the Democratic party is all paradise for the Jewish community, then why are nearly 1 in 5 Jewish households poor today, with incomes under 150% of the federal poverty guideline, and the proportion of poor Jewish households is higher than it was 10 years ago, according to the UJA’s study?
The answer to the growing poverty statistics and to the economic distress is all but the Democratic party. Rather the opposite. A fiscal conservative plan that will balance the budget, that will save social security, medicare and the safety nets, that will reduce the deficit, that will create more American Jobs, and dramatically lower the unemployment rate - is the ultimate conclusion.
That is why the Republican party has more in common ‘economically’ with the growing Jewish population. And if Mitt Romney is viewed favorably by any group, it is largely due to his 25 year business experience and disciplined message on the economy.
The fact that National Republicans are strongly supportive of Israel, and are more trusted in dealing with the US-Israel relationship in these challenging times, is very encouraging. It speaks value to the Jewish community, even to those Ultra-Orthodox groups that ideologically are not in favor of establishing a Zionist state in the Jewish promised homeland. Since most have a personal connection to Israel, a connection that is more emotionally, such as - relatives residing in Israel, yearly visits, or the fact that most of the high school graduates travel to Israel to learn in Yeshivah for 2 or 3 years.
But what speaks value to the Jewish community, especially on election day are domestic issues. And this is why the Republican party has to take a more aggressive approach investing in the Orthodox community, which might even be one of the Republican’s largest religious voting blocs.
New York is not in play in the general elections, we are not Iowa or Ohio. Nonetheless, just imagine the talk of town, if word gets out that Mitt Romney took off some time, while visiting New York for fundraising purposes, to visit some prominent Jewish community leaders and discuss the issues that are most concerning to the Orthodox community in NY. This could result in a significant outburst of support, financially and in terms of enthusiastic support towards Mitt Romney, and ultimately help Republican candidates statewide win competitive elections , that will benefit both.
It is in the interest of the Jewish community but also highly in the interest of the Republican nominee and the Republican party to reach out to this growing voting bloc, and make ’em feel comfortable in the GOP tent for now and for the next decades to come.
New York is America’s Israel for the Republican party.