Hillary, Obama Court Jewish Vote

The two leading contenders for the Democratic presidential ticket are courting American Jews, pledging full support and protection to Israel and firm stance against its foes.

Hillary, Obama Court Jewish Vote

The two leading contenders for theDemocratic presidential ticket are courting American Jews, pledging fullsupport and protection to Israeland firm stance against its foes, The Washington Times reported onWednesday, March 14.

"I need your help," Senator HillaryClinton told delegates of the American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC),the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the US.

She pledged that Israel will have her utter supportas a president.

"Israel'sfreedom, Israel's democracymust be protected," Clintontold the cheering crowd.

Not very far from where she was standing, her mainchallenger Senator Barack Obama was also busy making similar pro-Israelpromises.

"Our job is to renew the effort to help Israel achievepeace with its neighbors while remaining vigilant against those who do notshare this vision," said the first African-American to enter apresidential bid.

"That effort begins with a clear and strongcommitment to the security of Israel,our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy."

Using the same language at points, the two hopefulsseparately promised the Jewish lobbyists to contain Iran,Israel'sarch foe enemy.

Founded in 1953, AIPAC's original name was theAmerican Zionist Committee for Public Affairs.

Its stated purpose is to lobby the Congress onissues and legislation that are in the best interests of Israel and the US.

AIPAC has been effective in gaining support for Israel amongmembers of Congress and White House administrations.

In 1987, The New York Times described AIPACas "a major force in shaping United Statespolicy in the Middle East."

"The organization has gained power to influencea presidential candidate's choice of staff, to block practically any arms saleto an Arab country and to serve as a catalyst for intimate military relationsbetween the Pentagon and the Israeli army."

Pivotal

Clinton and Obama are battling to win favor with theAmerican Jewish population, estimated at 6.4 million or 2 percent of thepopulation.

So far, ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, acontender for the Republican presidential ticket, seems to be the Jews'favorite.

He ranked above all the other 2008 hopefuls in alist compiled lately by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz for his stance onJewish issues.

"Israeland the security of Israelare pivotal and it will have a direct impact on the security of the United States," argued Julie Brown, adelegate to AIPAC from Los Angeles.

"The candidates recognize the importance ofthat and the impact the Jewish vote will have on the election."

Jewish voters are estimated to be 2 to 3 percent ofthe American electorate.

"Never before have my interests as a supporterof Israel and my interestsas an American been so closely aligned," Lloyd Levin, a Jewish voter from Milwaukee, told theTimes.

There are 43 Jewish lawmakers in theDemocrats-controlled Congress, many of them chairing key congressionalcommittees such as the House International Relations Committee (HIRC) and theSenate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

A year ago, two prominent American professorsreleased a study showing that the US has been willing to set asideits own security and that of many of its allies to advance Israeli interests.

They attributed this to pressures from JewishAmerican groups and influential Jewish neo-conservatives.

 

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