GOP ‘front group’ accused of politicizing Israel, White House feud
A newly-formed advocacy group, whose leaders say they intend to target the Obama administration over its alleged lack of support for the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appears to be far more closely tied to the Republican Party than similar groups in the past.
“The Emergency Committee for IsraelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leadership unites two major strands of support for the Jewish state,” Politico’s Ben Smith writes. “The hawkish, neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, many of whom are Jewish, and conservative Evangelical Christians who have become increasingly outspoken in their support for Israel.”
But although Smith suggests that the group was formed to appeal to “some American backers of Israel [who] remain deeply suspicious of ObamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s efforts to press Israel toward specific policy shifts,” his own reporting makes it clear that the chief goal is to improve the GOP’s electoral prospects in House and Senate races this fall.
“One official at an American Jewish organization,” Smith remarks, “expressed concern that a group with such Republican origins would contribute to a deepening partisan cast to the debate over Israel.”
The Emergency Committee for Israel was publicly launched only last week, when its executive director, Noah Pollak, appeared on CNN to argue that the Obama administration had recently become more willing to “bow to reality” by dropping some of its “demands and criticisms” of Israel and by signaling a belief “that something needs to be done” about Iran.
Despite its recent debut, the group has already raised enough money to begin running what Politico describes as a “scathing” attack ad against the Senate campaign of Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). The ad criticizes Sestak “for signing a letter criticizing IsraelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s blockade of Gaza while not signing a defense of Israel circulated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and for appearing at a fundraiser for the Council on American Islamic Relations.”
The unusually close ties between the Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Party were underscored earlier this week when Jim Lobe, the bureau chief of Inter Press Service, discovered that “the partisan connections behind this group are so thinly veiled that a two-minute examination of their domain name registration uncovered ties to the Republican Party and the George W. Bush administration.”
The domain turns out to have been registered not by Pollak or any of his Neocon allies but by Margaret Hoover, a political commentator who frequently appears on Fox News. Hoover formerly held a variety of positions in the Bush administration and served as an associate director in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in 2004-05, when it was overseen by Karl Rove.
Rove himself has been actively creating a network of front groups intended to pour massive amounts of funding into the 2010 elections, which raises the question of whether the Emergency Committee for Israel could be another such group, created to tap a slightly different audience of potential donors on behalf of Republican candidates.
In an article two months ago titled “Rove, GOP plot vast network to reclaim power,” Politico noted that Rove and former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie “are the most prominent forces behind what is, in effect, a network of five overlapping groups, three of which were started in the past few months.” It was recently reported that just one of Rove’s groups, American Crossroads, had “raised nearly $8.5 million in June, much of it solicited from wealthy donors.”
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Karl has always said: People call us a vast right-wing conspiracy, but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really a half-assed right-wing conspiracy,Ã¢â‚¬Â one of Rove’s organizers told Politico. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now, he wants to get more serious.Ã¢â‚¬Â