Israeli Voters in US Election

By Jamal Kanj

With the conclusion of the presidential primaries in the 50 US states, a new election campaign is shaping itself in the unofficial 51st state, otherwise known as Israel.

A parade of US officials and politicians are lining up to visit Israel this month, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just completing her homage.

Other administration visitors include National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.

As President Barack Obama did in 2008, presumptive contender for the White House Mitt Romney is scheduled to make his christening visit before the end of this month.

Republican officials Ari Fleischer, President George W Bush’s former spokesman, and executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition Mathew Brooks spent several days earlier this month, touring Israel ahead of next week’s campaign by Romney.

Brooks and Fleischer were supporting the iVoteIsrael initiative. Unlike what the name implies, iVoteIsrael is not about Israeli elections but a campaign to vote for Israel in the US election.

The organisation’s British-born campaign strategic manager Aron Shaviv told the New Jersey Jewish News: "We just encourage people… to think about what (American) candidate is best for Israel."

iVoteIsrael is a subsidiary of a US registered, non-profit organisation established to register dual Israeli-US citizens living in Israel to vote in the 2012 US election. It is funded by US tax-deductible contributions from wealthy Jewish Americans.

Asked about the source of iVoteIsrael funding, Shaviv told +972 magazine: "Much of the donated money comes from the (Sheldon) Adelsons of the world".

Adelson, an American casino tycoon, has contributed hundreds of millions, advocating Israeli causes. He has poured more than $70 million into supporting Republican candidates in this election cycle.

Unofficial estimates suggest there are about 100,000 to 300,000 holders of US-Israeli dual nationality in Israel; many of them from Florida.

Shaviv told reporters: "If you can bring 5,000 in Florida, that’s a game changer." In fact, the US election in 2000 was decided by a mere 537 votes in Florida.

According to Fleischer: "There is a possibility that a large number of absentee ballots coming into Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio can make the difference." He was referring to major swing states, which if won, would likely determine the next president.

While claiming to be nonpartisan, iVoteIsrael seeks the election of a president who is willing to give Israel an "absolute commitment".

Displaying typical Zionist arrogance, iVoteIsrael literature claims the "outcome of 2012 elections matters more to Israelis than average Americans".

iVoteIsrael must have overlooked the fact that there are more unemployed Americans than the entire population of Israel, suggesting the outcome of the elections matter for more US citizens than all of Israel.

Not to be outdone, the Democrats are prostrating and Hillel Schenker, vice-chairman of Democrats Abroad Israel, called on Israeli-US citizens to vote for Obama because his "sensitivity towards Israel’s security needs cannot be compared to anyone else".

It is reprehensible to see both parties pandering to citizens with sworn loyalty to another nation for votes that could influence the outcome of a US election, particularly as it is based on issues that matter only to Israelis and not Americans.

– Jamal Kanj writes frequently on Arab issues and is the author of Children of Catastrophe, Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to Contact him at: (This article was first published by Gulf Daily News Newspaper)

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