Washington observers may feel there is no obvious shortage of pro-Israel lobbyists in the city – but a group of leading American conservatives thinks otherwise and has set up a new campaign group to attack President Obama over his “anti-Israel” stance, U.S. website Politico reports.
The Emergency Committee for Israel presents a potent combination of Republican Party neoconservatives and Evangelical Christians. The new group’s board includes Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol and Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate who leads the group American Values, as well as Rachel Abrams, a conservative writer and activist.
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York, on July 7, 2010.
Photo by: AP
“We’re the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community,” Politico quoted Kristol as saying. Bauer described the Obama presidency as “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States.”
Under U.S. law the group does not have to disclose the sources of its funding but has already raised enough to finance its first television advertisement, which launched a savage attack on Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania.
The ad slammed Sestak for signing a letter criticizing Israel’s blockade of Gaza while declining to add his name to a defense of Israel circulated by powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee).
The group also attacked Sestak for appearing at a fundraiser for the Council on American Islamic Relations, which it said was an “anti-Israel organization the FBI called a ‘front group for Hamas.”
“Does Congressman Joe Sestak understand Israel is America’s ally?” the ad’s narrator asked.
This is just the opening shot in what the Emergency Committee for Israel intends to be a series of ads to sway congressional races across the U.S.
“We want to be hard-hitting; we want to get into the debate and shake things up and make some points in a firm way,” said Noah Pollak, the group’s executive director.
Kristol said this group was inspired in part by another new group, the liberal J Street, which he said had shown the power of small organizations to influence the debate.
“There are some who say they’re pro-Israel but aren’t really,” he said, referring to J Street. “Then there’s AIPAC, which is a wonderful organization, but one that’s very committed to working with the administration, so they pull some punches publicly.”