U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, is expected to headline the National Jewish Democratic Council’s upcoming Washington conference, which is focused on mobilizing the Jewish vote, NJDC officials said.
Democrats hope that Biden of Delaware will be able to counter some of the influence that Senator Joseph Lieberman has had among Jewish voters in crucial battleground states including Florida. Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, has been an enormous asset for Republican John McCain, reassuring voters about his support for Israel among other issues as well as raise doubts about Democrat Barack Obama’s experience.
NJDC’s September 23-24 program at the Washington Hilton includes sessions on handicapping the 2008 elections, how new media changes the way voters can be reached, and common issues facing the Jewish and African American communities.
The time and date of Biden’s address has not been set. Other unconfirmed invited speakers include former Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama.
The National Jewish Democratic Council doesn’t approve of the choice of Republican caucus-goers. In a statement, the NJDC dubbed the former Arkansas governor an “extremist”; called his record on church-state issues is “frightening”; rapped him over his opposition to dual citizenship, pointing to Americans who vote in Israeli elections; and said that he “has not demonstrated the competence necessary to be an effective leader on Middle East issues.”
Jewish Democrats rushed to call out one of their own on Friday, after Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia – who has raised hackles with previous comments about the “Israel lobby” – went at it again in the latest issue of Tikkun.
In the September/October 2007 issue of the magazine, Moran is quoted as having said that “… AIPAC is the most powerful lobby and has pushed this war from the beginning … because they are so well organized, and their members are extraordinarily powerful – most of them are quite wealthy – they have been able to exert power.”
It’s not the firt time Moran has been a loose cannon: Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq he told an antiwar audience in Reston, Virginia that “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should.” Then, as now, the National Jewish Democratic Council led the charge against his comments, and were then joined by Democratic leaders including then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
This time around, it will be interesting to see if Moran draws fire from any of the Democratic presidential candidates.
If you’re interested in a succinct rebuttal to Walt, Mearsheimer and Moran, check out NJDC Executive Director Ira Forman in the Jewish Week.
Thursday’s House vote on the foreign operations bill provided Democrats with an opportunity in the latest round of the never-ending “who is better for Israel” debate. Having been bashed on this issue in the past, House Democrats now came up with a winning card.
It all started with a memo distributed by the Republican leadership asking staffers to “advise your boss” to vote against the foreign aid bill, because it ignores President Bush’s “Mexico City policy” — which maintains that no U.S. aid will be given for foreign programs that allow abortions.
178 Republicans listened to the advice and voted against the bill, which passed with 241 supporters.
The problem is that voting against foreign aid doesn’t look too good with pro-Israel activists, since Israel is the single largest aid recipient, with an annual $2.4 billion.
Not to worry. The Republican leadership added a note to the memo saying:
Members are advised that the Leadership has drafted a letter to AIPAC affirming Republican support for Israel funding, not withstanding final passage of this bill. This letter will be available for Members to sign at the Leadership Desk on the floor tonight. A copy of that letter is attached.
Will the letter be enough to do the trick?
Aipac sources said that they expected Republicans to vote against the bill because of the “Mexico City policy” issue and that they don’t see the vote as a change in policy.
But that doesn’t mean the Republicans are off the hook.
The National Jewish Democratic Council’s executive director Ira Forman is calling the Republican actions “a cynical act of political hypocrisy” and goes on to quote Aipac itself about how important supporting the bill is for Israel.