Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Pro-Israel group claims election victory

Josh Rogin
Foreign Policy
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One prominent pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington is already praising the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives as a net benefit for Israel.

"While Democrats are likely to keep control of the U.S. Senate, Republicans will take over the U.S. House of Representatives following Tuesday's elections. This is likely to have implications for Israel-related issues such as Israel's relationship with the United States and the push for sanctions against Iran," said an e-mail blasted out by The Israel Project only minutes after news stations called the turnover of House control a certainty.

"The takeover of the House by Republicans is great news for Israel and her supporters," the email quotes Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman under President George W. Bush, as saying. "The House leadership and almost every single GOP member is rock-solid behind Israel. At times like this, Israel needs friends everywhere."

But the Israel Project's e-mail then quickly turns on its head and praises Congressional Democrats in the House and Senate for their staunch support of Israel.

"The House Democratic leadership has been powerfully supportive of Israel, and Speaker Pelosi has been nothing short of passionate in her successful pursuit of biting sanctions against Iran - a key interest of the pro-Israel community," The Israel Project quotes David Harris, president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, as saying.

So which is it? Is The Israel Project saying that Republicans or Democrats are better for Israel?

"American voters on both sides of the aisle support Israel," Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, says in the e-mail.

The Israel Project identifies several key Congressional changes that could impact the Israel debate on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will take over the House Foreign Affairs Committee from Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA). House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who the Project calls "staunchly pro-Israel," will likely be the next Speaker of the House and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) could become Majority Leader, "the highest-ranking post a Jew has ever held in Congress," the e-mail points out.

The Project also points toward Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), who could become the new head of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on terrorism, non-proliferation, and trade, and whoever will replace Barney Frank (D-MA) as head of the Finance Committee, "a key avenue for sanctions against Iran." The top three contenders for chairman are Spencer Bachus, (R-AL), Pete King (R-NY), and Royce.


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