“Jerusalem... Romney received an unprecedented welcome in Israel, where a literal red carpet was rolled out for him as if he were a head of state...
“[adviser Dan] Senor said:
“ “We in the West partnering with Israel should do everything we can from stopping Iran from developing that [nuclear] weapons capability. And if Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision.”
“Asked about Senor’s statement a few hours later by CBS’s Jan Crawford, Romney twice used the word “respect” and added: “Because I’m on foreign soil I don’t want to be creating new foreign policy for my country.”
“In his speech, Romney said, “We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself, and it is right for America to stand with you.” A Romney aide called the notion that, at this point, he backs or supports an Israel raid “absurd.” ...
“At the fundraiser at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, he delivered a riff he often includes in speeches, only this time he added a mention of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Given the location of his speech, this made sense, but it wound up backfiring on Romney.
“Romney noted the wide disparity in GDP per capita between Israel and the Palestinian territory. “You notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality,” he said. “And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador. Mexico and the United States.” Then, after citing a scholarly book he’d read, Romney said, “If you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: Culture makes all the difference.”
“He’d been making this point, in exactly those words, as far back as his 2008 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. In his book No Apology, published in 2010, he wrote that despite a decline in educational standards, “we are fortunate that other factors, such as culture, also play a vital role” in America’s success. And at the University of Chicago in March, he again cited culture and listed the cultural traits he believes are most important. “Our work ethic,” he said. “Our appreciation for education. The willingness of Americans to take risk. Our commitment to honor contract oath, our family devotion. Our commitment to purposes greater than ourselves. Our patriotism.”
“Romney didn’t repeat these attributes in his Jerusalem speech, but if he had, it probably wouldn’t have affected what happened next. Most of the press had left before the speech and, joined later by Romney and his entourage, were flying to Poland when the AP put out a story. “Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the nearby Palestinians,” it said in the first paragraph. Two other direct quotations followed. A Romney adviser said the AP story had to have been written without the benefit of a transcript because the only recordings of the speech were on the plane to Poland...
“The day before his speech, Romney had met with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad. It is Fayyad who has tried with some success to change the culture in the West Bank and improve the business climate along the lines suggested by Romney...
“Eclipsed by the commotion over gaffes was the remarkable character of the Israeli government’s welcome of Romney. Given the fact that Israel will have to work with President Obama for several more months—and possibly four more years—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been expected to welcome Romney, but to be careful not to show excessive enthusiasm. Instead, he praised Romney extravagantly, hugged him, and gave every indication he wants Romney to defeat Obama in the election.
“A month or so before the visit, Netanyahu decided to embrace Romney. When Romney showed up for his first meeting with Netanyahu, whose relationship with Obama is chilly, the prime minister greeted him effusively. He addressed Romney by his first name. “We’ve known each other for many decades, since you were a young man, but for some reason, you still look young,” he said. Romney laughed. “You’ve been a personal friend of mine and a strong friend of the state of Israel, and that’s why it’s a pleasure to see you.”
“Netanyahu didn’t stop there. He praised Romney’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars a week earlier in Reno—a speech notable for its strong attack on Obama’s policies. Without mentioning Obama by name, Netanyahu injected his own criticism. “We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian [nuclear program] by one iota,” he said.
“That Romney was being treated like a head of state rather than a candidate was confirmed when he arrived for talks with President Shimon Peres. Romney was told he should remain in his SUV as a red carpet was rolled out. Then Peres walked slowly to the SUV to greet Romney. Unlike Netanyahu, Peres is thought to be sympathetic to Obama. Yet in its own way, his welcome of Romney was as upbeat as Netanyahu’s.
“What’s more, Romney, his wife, and son were invited to a family dinner at Netanyahu’s home. When Romney arrived, he received another exuberant welcome, more praise, and the hug. (It’s hard to imagine Netanyahu hugging Obama.) The prime minister had summoned the Israeli press to witness the occasion outside his home. Netanyahu extolled the speech. He particularly appreciated Romney’s insistence that Iran must be kept from gaining even the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. That, by itself, would create an imminent threat to Israel.
“The Netanyahu-Romney talks were friendly but serious. Romney asked if the Iranian people would rally behind the ruling mullahs if Israel attacked the nuclear sites. To explain why he doesn’t think so, Netanyahu told the story of his visit to Uganda in 2005. He’d been invited for the unveiling of a plaque honoring his brother Yonatan, killed in 1976 while leading a daring commando raid that freed 102 Israelis held hostage by terrorists who’d hijacked their plane and been given refuge in Entebbe, Uganda, by dictator Idi Amin.
“Netanyahu asked Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni why Ugandans hadn’t rushed to support Amin after Israel invaded their country. The raid, Museveni told him, was a turning point in the effort to oust Amin. It boosted Amin’s opponents by revealing how vulnerable he was. Amin was overthrown in 1979. What Netanyahu was suggesting to Romney is that an attack on Iran’s nuclear program might similarly help undermine the Tehran regime.
“Obama’s unprecedented efforts to undermine Romney’s trip reflect the weakness of his bid for reelection. Has an incumbent president ever before mounted a political offensive by the White House and his campaign to take down a political rival traveling overseas? Never.
“Obama pulled out all the stops. Romney’s 36 hours in Israel were bracketed by visits to Israel by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The Clinton stopover was scheduled shortly after Romney’s trip was announced and seemed to have no purpose besides waving the Obama flag. She followed, by two days, a working visit to Israel by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
“Though Obama had little to do with passage of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, he scheduled an Oval Office signing ceremony the day before Romney was to fly to Israel. The White House wanted Israeli ambassador Michael Oren to attend and was furious to discover he’d returned to Israel for the Romney trip. As a result, there was no Israeli on stage at the ceremony. The $70 million in new funding is to increase production of the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system. (Incidentally, at the signing ceremony, Obama said Israel would get $70 billion—without correcting himself or being accused of a gaffe.) Not coincidentally, Defense Secretary Panetta appeared six days later in Israel with Defense Minister Ehud Barak for a photo-op at an Iron Dome site.”
Romney's 'deal-closing skills' appeal to Jewish backers
“US presidential candidate's readiness to compromise in order to seal a deal has made him the front-runner among Jewish Republicans.”
“It's no coincidence that Romney's Jewish backers come out of the business community, say those who know him. Unlike much of the 2012 crop of GOP candidates, who appeal to the party's Tea Party insurgency with a language of no compromise, Romney knows how to close a deal with allies and rivals alike.
“Nancy Kaufman, who directed the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston when Romney was governor from 2003 to 2007, said his willingness to work with Democrats in the state Legislature was critical to passing health care reform in Massachusetts.
“... Jewish supporters say what’s most inspiring about the Republican presidential candidate is that he actually does rather than just talk.
“Furthermore, the very characteristics that cost the former Massachusetts governor his 2008 presidential bid and dogged his re-entry into the '12 race are what have made Romney the front-runner among Jewish Republican givers, notably his readiness to compromise in order to seal a deal...
“ "No matter how hard he tries to distance himself, now health care in Massachusetts is a model for the country," said Kaufman, who now guides the National Council of Jewish Women. "We were all surprised by his leadership. It wasn't what we expected." ...
“In addition to Sembler, a shopping center developer, Romney has the backing of other prominent Jews, including investment manager Lew Eisenberg, investor Sam Fox and lobbyist Wayne Berman.”
“Romney's appeal includes hard line on Iran, bipartisan record in Mass.”
“Mitt Romney's pitch to Jewish voters breaks down into three components: His tough line on Iran; his record as a Republican governor who worked well with Democrats; and his belonging to an oft-misunderstood religious minority...
“As the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, he worked with a Democratic Legislature and an overwhelmingly liberal Jewish community to enact a groundbreaking "Health Care for All" law...
“Romney outlined a multi-tiered plan for dealing with Iran in a statement last June to The Israel Project. It included strategies to expand divestment efforts against the Islamic Republic, diplomatic isolation, indicting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide under the Geneva Conventions, and pressing Arab nations and NATO to create an alliance that would force Iran to give up its nuclear aspirations.
“One of President Bush's former Jewish liaisons, speechwriter Noam Neusner, worked for Romney's Commonwealth PAC last year...
“Romney did draw some criticism from other GOP candidates after saying at a debate in October, in response to a question, that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons he would consult with his lawyers.
“But that same month, Romney was talking tough at the Republican Jewish Coalition's candidates' forum in October. When it comes to the spread of terrorism, he said there, the Democrats "are in the most serious case of denial since Neville Chamberlain." ...
“He championed Israel's security barrier, which the Palestinians oppose because it cuts through the West Bank...
“At the forum, Romney voiced skepticism over the renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that ultimately were launched in Annapolis, Md., in November.
“ "How could you possibly have a peace conference at this stage?" he asked, noting that Hamas terrorists were now controlling the Gaza Strip. "Who would you talk to?" ...
“In a Dec. 6, 2007 speech in College Park, Texas, Romney said that God "should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places."
“He added that he would "take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from the 'God who gave us liberty.' "
“Rabbi David Saperstein, who directs the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, praised Romney's candor... In a statement responding to the speech, the director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, said that "we agree that there is no place in our society for bigotry, and that one's religion should never be a test for political office." ...
“Romney's Mormonism should not be an issue, says one of his Jewish backers, Michael Menis, an oral surgeon in Crystal Lake, Ill.
“ "Jews throughout history have been persecuted for their religious beliefs," Menis recently told the Chicago Jewish News. "If any one religious group should be supportive of someone's right to believe in what they wish and not be persecuted for it or excluded from political office for it, it should be the Jewish people."
“Menis, the chairman of the RJC's Chicago chapter and a declared Romney delegate, cited the former governor's competence as why he favored him.
“ "When he took the helm of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, he turned an almost $400 million operating deficit into one of the most successful Olympics in history," Menis told the Chicago Jewish News. He also praised Romney's performance as a Republican governor in a Democratic state, where he "worked both sides of the aisle."
“Nancy Kaufman, the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said she worked extensively with Romney during his time as governor, particularly on services for seniors and faith-based assistance after Hurricane Katrina.
“She also lobbied for Romney's health-care plan, which provided assistance for low-income families but levied a tax penalty on those who did not get insurance.
“ "He's backing away from that now, but it's very important," Kaufman said of the health-care plan...
“Kaufman sounded a note of disappointment in how Romney appears to be tamping down his reputation as a consensus-building moderate as he appeals to Christian conservatives that make up a key segment of the Republican base.
“ "I haven't heard him talk about working across faith groups," Kaufman said. "I worked closely with him and his wife, and they were very appreciative of the role faith-based groups played. He valued the Jewish community and our input." ”
“The Republican Party in the United States has a very serious potential presidential candidate in former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. This is a man who has been incredibly successful in both his private business enterprises and in his public service.
“There is however one catch: Mr. Romney is a Mormon. It seems that most Americans know very little about The Church of LDS and its beliefs....
“And to be frank I am thrilled with the prospect of a Mormon in the White House—that is if Romney really still is a Mormon.
“The reason is simple. In common with Judaism, Mormonism is a tolerant religion and the eleventh of their Articles of Faith states: "We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
“Thus, a true Mormon does not believe in a 'one size fits all' religion where all unbelievers are condemned to hell and damnation or to a life as second class citizens. Like Judaism the Mormon Church of LDS respects the mode of worship of others different to their own. They would thus never compel others to accept their religion.
“In essence this ideology makes me extremely comfortable with a president of Mormon faith. For the Mormon the separation of Church and State which allows freedom of religion for all is inbuilt into their doctrine.
“Thus, the fear some on the Left have regarding George W. Bush and his Evangelical supporters that he is trying to break down the separation between church and state and Christianize America would not apply to Romney. So Romney’s Mormonism is a crucial factor and logically one which should add to his support not detract from it.”
Rabbi Levi Brackman was a senior rabbi at a London synagogue before coming to America. He now heads Judaism in the Foothills in the west Denver metro area. He also is a founding member of Movement for a Tolerant World.
"Brackman's weekly column, which is distributed over the Internet to thousands globally, is also published on Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth's English-language website "YNetNews.com". His writings, which cover pertinent social and political issues of the day, have been published on many other popular websites such as "chabad.org", "algemeiner.com", "isralert.com", "Persianrabbi.com", "freerepublic.com" and "thecoloradoadvocate.com", among others. They can also be found on his website.
"Brackman’s writings have been published in, among others, The Denver Post, The Intermountain Jewish News (Colorado), Torah Studies (New York), Etehaad (California), and The Canyon Courier. They have also appeared in the Australian Jewish News and in the UK, in The Jewish Chronicle and Hamodia. He has also appeared on TV and his work has been featured in newspapers both in the USA and in the UK."
This article appeared in The Jewish Journal on Jan 31, 2008. Mark Paredes is the Outreach Director of a national Jewish organization.
“Like many voters, I am thrilled that viable candidates this year include a Mormon, a biracial man, and a woman...
“Why am I a fervent supporter of Mitt Romney? For goodness sake, look at the man's life. Unlike many voters interviewed on TV, I don't want to elect someone who's like me; I want someone to lead the free world who is a better person than I am...
“Mitt's record of public service shows that he is a moderate, pragmatic Republican in the mold of his father, former Michigan Governor George Romney...
“Mitt's attention-getting speech at last year's Herzliya Conference highlighted his love and support for Israel. He was raised in Bloomfield Hills, a Detroit suburb with a large Jewish population, and belongs to a church that has an incomparable record of continuous support for Israel and the Jewish people over the last two centuries. The first two Jewish governors in the U.S. were elected in Idaho and Utah (1914 and 1916, respectively), the two states with the highest percentage of Mormons. Salt Lake City had a Jewish mayor by 1932, 42 years before New York City. This year Mormons will celebrate not only the 60th independence anniversary of Israel, a country their church has supported since its creation, but also the 40th anniversary of BYU's study abroad program in Israel.
“While Romney's success in the private and public sectors is undeniable, he clearly struggles sometimes as a politician. I have come to realize over the last year that a great president may not be a great candidate or even a great politician... This time America needs to elect a proven leader with a stellar record. After viewing the debates and studying the position papers of the major candidates, both my head and my heart have led me to support Mitt Romney for president. Mitt has successfully led his family, his church, his firm, an international Olympics committee, and a state over three decades. We have every reason to believe that his Midas touch will continue in the White House, allowing this nation to go from strength to strength in a marvelous way.”
“ "He's got a lot of common sense, he's got a success pattern in his life," Mel Sembler, one of Romney's principal Jewish backers, told JTA on Tuesday after accompanying him on a fundraising swing in Florida that netted the campaign $1.8 million.
“ "I like a man who's been in business for 25 years, who's made a payroll and who understands what the real world is like,” Sembler said.”
This article appeared in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Mel Sembler is the former U.S. ambassador to Italy and former honorary chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
“On Jan. 20, 2007, I had the great pleasure of accompanying Gov. Mitt Romney on his most recent trip to Israel. Gov. Romney met with key senior Israeli economic, political and military officials in order to assess the unique challenges facing America's closest ally in the region.
“The time I spent with Mitt in Israel allowed me to see firsthand his pragmatic approach to problem solving coupled with his tireless motivation. I found the combination refreshing and inspiring. His respect for differing points of view and ways of life is compassion at its best. Now, more than ever, I think we need this kind of leadership for America.
“With a leadership style developed over decades in the private sector, Gov. Romney has been successful throughout his career... As the CEO of Bain Capital, Romney invested in more than 150 companies like Domino's Pizza, Staples and Sports Authority, and helped develop business plans to run these enterprises successfully...
“At the peak of his business career, Mitt was asked to take over the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. At that time, the Olympics were beset by scandal and had fallen deeply into debt. Mitt took over, and, as he had done with so many companies, he went to work turning things around.
“The result was one of the most successful and profitable Olympics in history, even in the face of security concerns after 9/11.
“After the Olympics, Mitt brought needed leadership to Massachusetts. I have long been impressed by what he accomplished during his term as governor - strengthening education, laying the foundation for private, market-based health insurance for all and cutting the size and cost of government.
“Without raising taxes or increasing debt, Gov. Romney closed a nearly $3 billion deficit. Each year he filed a balanced budget without raising taxes.
“By eliminating waste, streamlining government and enacting comprehensive economic reforms to stimulate growth in Massachusetts, Gov. Romney got the economy moving again and transformed deficits into surpluses.
“As president, Mitt will govern by emphasizing his core principles: faith in free enterprise and free trade, accountability in education, personal responsibility, tolerance, strong families and a strong national defense. Our country faces what could be a defining moment in shaping its history, and I believe Mitt Romney can provide the kind of leadership that is sorely needed...”
“Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made a stop in Boca... He made a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition of Florida on Tuesday, emphasizing one of the main themes of his campaign - the need to combat what he calls "violent global jihad." ...
“"It’s nice to see all these Jewish Republicans here," said RJC board member Marc Goldman, getting a big laugh from the crowd of more than 200. "Tell your friends, those Democrats. You know who they are." ”
Charles Krauthammer: “I think Romney's was a very good speech. But I agree with Fred Thompson that its a pity that he actually had to give it.
You would imagine that this is a country in which a man running for the presidency doesn't have to give a speech defending his faith and explaining it the way that he had to.
We had that 50 years ago as he said with Kennedy in Houston, and you would have thought in half a century we'd be beyond that.”
“Look, Romney's dad ran for the presidency in 1968, his Mormonism was not an issue. In 1976...
I'm not sure it would have been an issue at all [had he got the nomination or had a closer race] because eight years later Mo Udall was a very strong candidate for the democratic nomination and his religion was so irrelevant that nobody today even remembers that Udall was a Mormon.
Five of the senators in the U.S. Senate are Mormons and I defy anybody to name them because it is an irrelevancy in how they conduct office.
I think it would be a better country if a man did not have to give a speech explaining his religion.”
Jackie Mason - "A Chanukah Message in Romney's Speech"
"Watching Mitt Romney's speech on religious tolerance in America inspired me to give this message to close the eight day celebration of Chanukah."
Brit Hume: “How much ground did he gain with that?”
Charles Krauthammer: “He gained a lot because he did exactly what he had to do. He explained the common values he has with other people of faith.
He says he's animated by those, that's whats important, not the theological superstructure above it. That was Kennedy's theme as well, and that's why it works.”
"Charles Krauthammer, winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, writes an internationally syndicated column for The Washington Post Writers Group.
Krauthammer, named by the Financial Times as America's most influential commentator, began writing the weekly column for The Washington Post in January 1985.
It now appears in more than 180 newspapers... he has been honored from every part of the political spectrum ... from the famously liberal People for the American Way (First Amendment Award) to the staunchly conservative American Enterprise Institute (Irving Kristol Award)."
After obtaining his M.D. from Harvard, he became "chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1978, he quit medical practice, came to Washington to direct planning in psychiatric research for the Carter administration, and began contributing articles to The New Republic." (Post Writers Group)
Mr. Krauthammer's view was echoed by another well known person who is of the Jewish faith:
“It's too early to tell how voters will react, but this Romney supporter--also of the Jewish faith--thought Romney did just right. "When we're talking about someone who wants to be president of the United States, the issues are character and capability, not how you worship, whether you worship," David Nierenberg said.”
“ "David's Dirty Dogs" -- D3 for short -- may sound more like a World Wrestling Entertainment trio than an investment fund, but D3 Family Funds' returns speak for themselves. $10,000 invested in the fund in 1999 would now be worth well more than $36,000 (despite the bursting of the Internet bubble). That amounts to an impressive annualized return greater than 24%, over a time period (1999 to the present) in which the S&P 500 has been in the red.
“Renowned investor David Nierenberg, who heads up the Dirty Dogs, searches for unloved stocks in out-of-favor industries.”
Dennis Prager - Before the Florida Primary, Jan 22, 2008
''To the extent that I understand how most Republicans think, it would seem that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani comes closer to the Republican ideal than any of the other viable Republican candidates. They are all good and decent men who would be better for America than either of the Democratic front-runners...
''But between Rudy Giuliani (and, for that matter, Mitt Romney) on the one hand and John McCain on the other, there is little question as to who more embodies mainstream conservative and Republican principles.''
“In August of 2003, Simon and Schuster reissued Dennis' totally revised seminal work on anti-Semitism, Why the Jews, co-written with Joseph Telushkin...
“The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, Simon and Schuster, co-written with Joseph Telushkin has been translated into nearly a dozen languages, and is the most widely used introduction to Judaism in the world. It is still a best-seller in paperback over 20 years after it's release...
“New York's Jewish Week described Dennis Prager as "one of the three most interesting minds in American Jewish Life."
“Since 1992, he has been teaching the Bible verse-by- verse at the University of Judaism...
“In 2002 Dennis produced a documentary Israel in a Time of Terror, a compelling look at how the average Israeli deals with the daily threat of terror. It has been shown at colleges, universities, churches and synagogues across the country.”
“When people find out that I won't broadcast on a Jewish holiday or -- in fact, it was a very powerful thing -- the night of the O.J. Simpson verdict, I was invited to be one of only two people on "Nightline," and I had so much passion about that verdict and I was so dying to talk, essentially, to a country. But it was Yom Kippur night, the holiest night of the Jewish calendar, and I turned it down. I don't broadcast on Jewish holidays or Saturday...
“I'm quite observant but I always announce that I am not Orthodox because I never want to mislead anybody. Many Orthodox institutions have used some of my writings on Judaism, particularly my first book 'The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism.' But I will drive to synagogue on the Sabbath for example...
“I am proud to say that I have brought a lot of Jews to Judaism. And they know, as my own children know, that I do not give a hoot if my children or any Jew I influence expresses a serious Judaism as an Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Hasidic Jew. I am just as happy. I have zero preference.”
“Romney financial backers include JCRC board member Lee Cowen and lobbyist Mark Isakowitz. Ron Kaufman, a lobbyist who splits his time between Washington and Boston and served as political director in the first Bush White House, is a key man for Romney in the Jewish community.
“Cowen noted that Romney is the only candidate who has "run something" in the private sector, and believes the contender's religion may help him among Jewish voters.
“ "The fact that he's a Mormon is positive for the Jewish community," said Cowen. "He's a minority religion like we are [and] we as Jews have sympathy for other groups suffered from persecution." ”
Marvin Pomerantz - Serves on the national board of the Republican Jewish Coalition Member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council
Marvin Pomerantz served as the Co-Chair of Mitt Romney's Iowa presidential campagin in 2007-8.