By Yechezkel Gordon
Texas Governor Rick Perry, a contender for the Republican Presidential nomination, held a press conference at the W Hotel in midtown Manhattan a few months ago. It was a clear showing of his strong support for Israel, and criticism for what he believes are the failed and misguided policies of President Obama on Israel.
“We would not be here today … if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naive and arrogant, misguided and dangerous,” he said. “There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction,” continued Perry, who is being advised on foreign policy by some of the leading conservative voices of the George W. Bush administration. “America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel.”
Strong words indeed!
Standing on stage behind Perry at the press conference were some of the leading Jewish activists in NY and a few Israeli politicians. But standing out among them were three individuals who stood together just one week before at the winning rally of newly elected Congressman Bob Turner; NY Assmblyman Dov Hikind, NYC Jewish Community activist Chaskel Bennett, and the newly elected Congressman Turner. Some might have wondered how the orthodox Jewish leaders managed to be front and center in a major press conference with someone who might be our next President. But the answer is simple: Israel.
The Republican Party is doing all it can to woo Jewish voters who usually vote democrat but might be susceptible to vote republican in 2012 if they feel that the security and safety of Israel depends on it. That’s where the orthodox Jewish leaders play a prominent role. Since, unlike conservative or reform Jews, the orthodox have already clearly embraced the GOP and have voted heavily for them for over a decade. (Lieberman was the last presidential election that many orthodox also voted democrat) On both social and foreign policy issues the orthodox and GOP see eye to eye. Being pro-Israel also helps in the Republican primaries, where the Christian conservatives who strongly ally with Israel, play a major role. Hence, it was no surprise to see Perry embrace, both literally and figuratively, prominent orthodox jewish leaders at the Israel press conference.
The GOP has tactically used Obama’s vulnerability on Israel to their benefit, by making Israel a major issue in the 2012 elections. This creates a tremendous opportunity for the orthodox Jewish community as a whole, and it’s leaders in particular, to rise up to the occasion and make a tremendous kiddush hashem. Let’s make sure we don’t make the Republican Party regret their embrace of us.
Yechezkel Gordon is the editor-in-chief of The Frum Thinker website featuring penetrating analysis and opinion of various topics including news, politics, everyday life, and Israel. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.