Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C.
— The Republican share of the Jewish vote jumped nationally in the presidential election from 22 percent to 32 percent, an increase of almost 50 percent, Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, tells Newsmax.
Based on an exit poll of 1,000 Jewish voters commissioned by the group, Brooks says the results show that Republicans have gained market share among Jewish voters in five of the last six national elections. The 10-point gain in the last election is the largest since 1972.
Brooks takes issue with a poll commissioned by the left-leaning, pro-Israel organization J Street. That poll found that President Barack Obama received 70 percent of the Jewish vote, in line with an average of 70 percent received by Democratic candidates since exit polling began in 1972. As noted in my story Israel Not a Priority for Jewish Voters
, the J Street poll also reported that Jewish voters in the last election cared far more about the economy and healthcare than policies toward Israel.
While Brooks agrees that Israel is not among the top one or two issues that matter most to Jewish voters, the RJC poll found that Israel is important to them. But as Americans, Jews understandably care most about issues that directly affect all Americans, he says.
“If you ask voters what are the two most important issues, of course Israel is not going to be at the top,” Brooks says. “People are concerned about the economy, they are concerned about jobs, they are concerned about the debt and deficit. Israel and the Jewish community are clearly threshold issues. They are important to people in terms of looking at the respective candidates in terms of whom they are going to support.”
The RJC poll asked Jewish voters how their feelings about policies toward Israel helped determine their votes. More than 75 percent of the respondents said they were important. But 44.5 percent of the Jewish voters polled said they considered President Obama more pro-Israeli than pro-Palestinian. A total of 22.8 percent said he was more pro-Palestinian, and 17.4 percent considered him to be neutral.
Noting that the sample for the RJC poll of 1,000 Jewish voters was 25 percent larger than for J Street’s poll, Brooks says, “Basically, J Street is sort of a left-wing organization which has a particular agenda with regards to Israel and a vested interest in trying to sort of minimize in the minds of people the issue of Israel as a relevant political subject. I think they got the results that they wanted by the way they asked the questions.”
In 2010, J Street’s website suggested that the organization had received no funding from George Soros, the left-wing activist. But confidential tax records mistakenly made public by the Internal Revenue Service showed that Soros and his family had contributed $245,000 to J Street in 2008. At the time, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami acknowledged that the group had received $500,000 more since then as part of a three-year gift, according to the Washington Post.
After the report on the contributions was published, Ben-Ami apologized on the group’s website for being “less than clear” about Soros’ support.
“I said Mr. Soros did not help launch J Street or provide its initial funding, and that is true,” Ben-Ami wrote. “I also said we would be happy to take his support. But I did not go the extra step to add that he did in fact start providing support in the fall of 2008, six months after our launch.”
Yet the same claim that Ben-Ami described in 2010 as being “less than clear” continues to appear on the J Street website under the title “George Soros did not found J Street.”
“Fact,” the statement now on the J Street website says. “George Soros did not found J Street. In fact, George Soros very publicly stated his decision not to be engaged in J Street when it was launched —precisely out of fear that his involvement would be used against the organization.”
J Street spokesmen had no immediate comment.
“Israel might not be the No. 1 issue, and it might not be the No. 2 issue, but it’s an important issue, and I think that’s the crux of the fundamental difference between the analysis of our poll and what the J Street people wanted,” Brooks says.
“I think it was one of the key reasons, along with the economy and other issues, that we had such a huge increase in the Jewish vote for Mitt Romney and the Republicans, versus where we were in 2008. You would have to go back to 1972 to see a comparable one-election shift in the Jewish vote.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times bestselling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.
© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.