A Florida synagogue has cancelled a scheduled keynote appearance by Democratic National Committee Chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz after a quake erupted along political fault lines. Why is our Federation-funded JCRC featuring Obama’s chief Jewish campaigner tomorrow night?
Talking Tachlis has received many emails about tonight’s appearance by Rep. Wasserman-Schultz at JCRC's annual Activist Award event questioning why the Democratic Party spokeswoman and Obama mouthpiece was the invited guest speaker for a Federation-funded council that represents itself, and collects donations, as a non-partisan entity.
In the lead-up to this historic 2012 presidential election, much attention has been devoted to the ‘Jewish vote.’ Just last month, the online Daily Beast expanded on “Obama’s Problem with Jewish Voters.” Citing the widely reported Public Religion Research Institute’s poll in early April which found that 62 percent of 1004 American Jews said they would vote for Obama, the article points out: “We would do well to remind ourselves that Obama is having trouble with Jewish voters.”
This is against the backdrop of widely acknowledged frothy relations between the White House and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, growing concerns about the West’s failure to check Iran’s nuclear menace to Israel, and the major upset in New York ‘s special election which saw Republican Bob Turner take the Democratic stronghold district vacated by the ‘exposed’ Congressman Anthony Weiner. As the Huffington Post reported:
It sounded improbable on the surface that a New York City congressional district where Democrats have a 3-1 registration edge and have held office for nearly a century could even come close to electing a Republican to the U.S. House.
But voter frustration over the sour economy and President Barack Obama's policies made the improbable a reality, as a Republican political novice, Bob Turner, scored an upset victory in a special election Tuesday over David Weprin, a Democratic assemblyman from a prominent local political family. The surprising results in the Brooklyn and Queens-area district portend a perilous national environment for Obama as he prepares to seek re-election next year.
Enter Debbie Wasserman Schultz, center stage in Detroit, to bolster Obama’s waning popularity among Jewish voters. It will be some tour de force for this headline act from central casting to avoid political speechifying to smooth over Obama’s record on Israel and Bibi snubs like his open mic comments with Sarkozy. Wasserman-Shultz herself has come under fire for her support of JStreet, an organization Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren has repeatedly assailed for its hostility to Israel, and for addressing a fundraiser for a radical Islamist organization. Many have also called into question the Obama camp’s support for Occupy Wall Street in light of documented antipathy to Israel, to AIPAC and anti-Semitic statements. One only need read the Occupy statement here to see why Jews and Israel-supporters are raising concerns about the Occupy movement and wondering why the President refuses to repudiate his earlier support.
Wasserman-Shultz’s Midwest trip will also include a stop in Wisconsin to pump up Democrat voters one week before the special gubernatorial recall election. Her politicking in Wisconsin is certainly understandable, given her role as high priestess of the Democratic Party and given the high stakes in the Badger State, being called a bellwether for the November presidential election.
But what is inexplicable is that the footlights at the gala for what is supposed to be a non-partisan Jewish “public affairs voice of the Detroit Jewish community” will be shining on Wasserman-Schultz in her cameo appearance in Detroit. After all, the JCRC should not be a political platform advancing the interests of any politicians or parties since, as its mission statement purports:
As the umbrella body for more than 200 local Jewish organizations, Council unifies, mobilizes, represents and is responsible to the Detroit metropolitan Jewish community.”
If truly the JCRC has as its goal the purpose of “unifying” our community and is “responsible” to the entire community, why would it invite as the marquis speaker at its major annual event the head of the Democratic National Committee and Obama’s Jewish proxy? Wasserman-Shultz blitzes the country and news shows propping up Obama and bashing GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney. She even took heat four days ago on CNN for the “hypocrisy” of the Obama campaign’s attack on Romney’s record at Bain Capital, as reported in Politico.
There is no attempt at even an appearance of political neutrality by the JCRC. If there was, one could imagine that a more balanced approach that truly respects non-partisanship would have included equal time to the likes of an Eric Cantor, the Jewish Congressman from Virginia who is the Majority Leader of Congress.
Plain and simple, no matter any attempt to spin it otherwise, this is our Jewish community’s central address playing it one way to drum up support for President Obama. This contradicts not only its ostensible objective, but it runs afoul of the IRS stipulations that organizations benefitting from tax-exempt status as 501(c) 3 charitable organizations steer clear of political partisanship.
No doubt, JCRC, the Federation and others may try to play the Jewish community for fools and feign that Wasserman Schultz is not coming to speak in her capacity as prime political operative. But if not to advance the interests of the Democratic Party and Obama’s political fortunes, why would a key political asset like W-S take time away from her dance card to waltz before Jews in Detroit?
Yes, Rep. W-S is a cancer survivor and she is to be admired as a mother and uber-successful political figure fighting and calling attention to the disease. But the pretense that she is coming here as a spokeswoman for breast cancer or any other health concern just won’t wash. If the intent of the JCRC was to spotlight breast cancer or other health issues, surely there are multitudes of speakers far more expert in these matters who don’t bring the same political voltage as the head of the DNC.
A Federation-funded and overseen-JCRC sensitive to its obligation to be politically neutral and sensitive to ‘diversity’ would never have dared to bring in a political star of W-S’s stature, unless you are committed even more to delivering Jewish votes in November. You don’t get much more politically heavyweight than W-S. Any attempted justification to the contrary for bringing her in is B-S.
The Federation and its JCRC have already voted, with their actions, to gin up Detroit Jewish support for Obama. The role of the Federation and JCRC, much as the role of synagogues and all non-profit institutions, is NOT to politic for any candidate or party. So, now, it’s up to metro Detroit Jewry to vote too – by withholding our donations. We in Detroit could stand to learn a lesson from Jewish Floridians when our institutions fail us.
Collective resignations and public outcry forced the cancellation of W-S’s speaking engagement at Temple Israel in Miami Beach. Why again is she speaking in Detroit?
By: Alan Bergstein
Source: BIZPAC Review
Date: May 25, 2012
But the entire event was cancelled, perhaps out of concern that Temple Israel would earn the same bad rap the Boca synagogue got in the wake of Rice’s speech. And these two events may set the stage for other religious institutions to shun anything dealing with politics during the months leading up to the Nov. 6 elections. But what is it that leads Jewish institutions to risk the loss of their tax-exempt status to score political points anyway?
Tate is not just an ordinary guy. At 85 years old, he is a terrific philanthropist, having given millions of his own money to endow college scholarships for deserving kids. His life experiences and his knowledge of government qualifies him to stand next to Wasserman Schultz to debate the benefits or liabilities of having President Obama re-elected. He is also a major financial benefactor to the synagogue. So why was Tate denied this opportunity to challenge Wasserman Schultz and even make some points of his own? You see, diversity of political opinion is not the usual practice in many Jewish institutions. For years, it was taken for granted that Jewish institutions and social agencies were run by and for those with a liberal mindset. It was naturally assumed that Jews were Democrats. In the 2008 presidential election, Obama garnered 78 percent of the Jewish vote.
The repercussions of the actions of these two synagogues will have a terrific impact on who gets Florida's 29 electoral votes. The virtual closing down of religious institutions to Democratic-only speakers will surely resonate with fewer Jewish voters being swayed in the comfort of their own religious sanctuaries. The loss of the rabbis' endorsement of these candidates will be costly as well. Voters will have to resort to attending open debates among the candidates in public venues, and that's dangerous from the liberals' point of view. It's better to have a captive audience controlled by the rabbi than have an open forum with competing views.
By Javier Manjarres\
By: Alan Bergstein
Source: BIZPAC Review
Date: September 28, 2011
But recent events have suggested the congresswoman isn’t distancing herself enough. It should be noted here that Wasserman Schultz hosted the first J Street convention three years ago, the same convention that also had then-Congressman Robert Wexler as the keynote speaker. And then there’s the issue of last month’s gathering in Washington.
On Aug. 22, a delegation of J Street officials was welcomed and photographed at Wasserman Schultz’s offices in the nation’s capital. The delegation was led by Ilana Miller, founder and chairwoman of J Street's South Florida chapter, and it was received by Wasserman Schultz's legislative assistant, Danielle Gilbert. After the meeting, J Street officials delivered more than 250 signature cards to the White House calling for President Obama to support a two-state solution and the Palestinians’ efforts for U.N. statehood.
Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, blasted J Street, saying the organization was "fooling around with the lives of 7 million people (Israelis)." According to an article in The Jewish Daily Forward, Oren described the left-wing group as "a unique problem in that it not only opposes one policy of one Israel government, it opposes all positions of all Israeli governments. It's significantly out of the mainstream."
So Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Robert Wexler -- the latter having been recruited from his home in Maryland, where he lived even while he represented congressional District 19 in South Florida -- are still part and parcel of the Jewish voices for Obama and Palestine by their association with J Street. Will the voters in South Florida come to the same conclusions as those in New York’s congressional District 9: that the future of Israel should be taken out of the hands of Obama and his Democrat cohorts?
That Adat Shalom will be hosting the event is especially embarrassing since one of its benefactor families, much like the case at the synagogue in Florida, is among the state’s top GOP leadership.