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Sweet scoop: Post High Holidays, Obama and Clinton woo big Jewish donors at funder bash. Obama's Jewish hosts say "It is now our turn"

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WASHINGTON — With the High Holidays over, the Clinton and Obama presidential campaigns are stepping up their competition for cash from the nation’s elite and well-connected Jewish Democratic donor community.

In the 2008 White House race, all the major Democratic candidates are steadfast supporters of Israel. But donors for whom Israel is their threshold issue want to assess who has the strongest commitment. Both campaigns have Mideast advisers and circulate policy papers recapping their views and voting records in support of Israel.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the top campaign advisers to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) appear at a conference in Washington for contributors and bundlers who have raised enough to get invited to the “Clinton Jewish Leadership Finance Council Inaugural Event.”

Bundlers — who tap into their networks to raise money — must raise $100,000 to be named an event co-chair; steering committee members have a $40,000 bar, and a donor needs to raise $10,000 to attend. Clinton dines with her donors on Tuesday night on a day busy with meetings. The conference opens with Jonathan Mantz, Clinton’s national finance director and Terry McAuliffe, Clinton’s top fund-raiser, briefing donors at the Frederick Douglass Museum.

In the afternoon, deputy campaign manager Mike Henry delivers a “Political and Campaign Update” followed by a discussion on “Engaging the Unengaged Jewish Voters” led by Joshua Kram, director of Jewish outreach. Clinton chief strategist Mark Penn wraps with a “Messaging and Polling Update.” On Wednesday, the donors breakfast with senior adviser Ann Lewis, director of women’s outreach.

Barack Obama’s big Jewish event is a two-tiered reception and dinner fund-raiser Oct. 1 at the Wilmette home of industrialist Lester Crown and his wife, Renee, longtime supporters of Jewish and Israeli causes and institutions. Another billionaire host is Penny Pritzker, Obama’s national finance chair.

The invitation to the Crown event included a summary of Obama’s positions on Israel and opens with this line: “It is now time. It is now our turn.” “. . . The purpose of the evening is to show Barack how appreciative we are of his steadfast, honest and proud support of Israel. In spite of a bruising schedule, Senator Obama has continued to maintain a direct dialogue with the community both here in Chicago and nationally. It is also quite unusual to have the opportunity to deliver a specific policy message of appreciation during the rigors of a presidential campaign.”

Obama’s campaign faced some fallout earlier in the month, scrambling to shore up Jewish support after taking on Zbigniew Brzezinski as a foreign policy adviser. Brzezinski served as national security adviser under former President Jimmy Carter. Carter, author of "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid," has come under attacks for statements sympathetic to Palestinians. Unlike Carter, Brzezinski did not have any long-standing problems with the Jewish community until he defended a book critical of Israel’s influence in Congress, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by University of Chicago Professor John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt.

Harvard University Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz said Obama made a mistake in accepting Brzezinski’s backing. To counter, Obama turned to one of his top Jewish political supporters to issue a statement in his behalf, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.). “Barack Obama has been a consistent supporter of Israel and this is an unfortunate case of a fabricated controversy for political reasons. I speak with him often on Israel policy, and I can tell you firsthand that Barack Obama is opposed to the arguments presented in this book,” Wexler said.

Obama event invite.......

Renée & Lester Crown
Paula & Jim Crown, Lisa & Howard Green, Sheila & Joe Gutman, Sandy & Jack Levin, Penny Pritzker & Bryan Traubert, Michael Polsky, Nancy & Lee Rosenberg, Norma & Lester Rosenberg, Cari & Michael Sacks, Marcie & Avy Stein, Anne & Marcus Wedner

Dear Friends,
It is now time. It is now our turn.
Our Illinois Senator, Barack Obama, is running to become President of the United States.
On October 1, Renee and Lester Crown are hosting an evening reception with Senator Obama at their home, along with many of the leaders of our community.
The purpose of the evening is to show Barack how appreciative we are of his steadfast, honest and proud support of Israel. In spite of a bruising schedule, Senator Obama has continued to maintain a direct dialogue with the community both here in Chicago and nationally. It is also quite unusual to have the opportunity to deliver a specific policy message of appreciation during the rigors of a presidential campaign. If you have already contributed fully to the campaign, thank you, your support is greatly appreciated. Please consider additional family members and others who can attend/contribute to this special event.

Monday, October 1, 2007
5:30 PM – Chairs Dinner
7:00- 9:00 PM - Reception

At the home of Lester and Renee Crown

Barack Obama has established a strong record as a true friend of Israel, a stalwart defender of Israel’s security, and an effective advocate of strengthening the steadfast U.S.-Israel relationship, publicly stating that Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state should never be challenged.
More importantly, he has continued to make policy decisions and statements directly impacting the safety and security of both Israel and the U.S. To identify just a few highlights during 2007:
 In his first policy pronouncement after announcing his decision to enter the presidential race, Senator Obama delivered a major address to the Chicago community clearly defining his support for a safe and secure Israel.
 Believing that Americans must do more to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Senator Obama played a leadership role as primary sponsor of the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act in May, 2007.
o This legislation makes it easier for state and local governments to divest their pension funds of companies that invest in Iran's energy sector, thus depriving Iran of the revenue to pursue nuclear weapons and sponsor terrorism.
o While taking no option off the table, including military action, divestment is a useful tool to bring economic pressure to bear on Iran.
o At present, Florida and Illinois have passed divestment legislation and California’s awaits the governor’s signature.
 Senator Obama was the first presidential candidate to support the Memorandum Of Understanding recently signed by both the United States and Israel, stating “I support the recent agreement to increase military assistance, as part of the United States' unique defense relationship with Israel, which serves the security interests of both our countries…it (is) more important than ever that the United States live up to its commitment to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge in a dangerous region”. In this agreement:
o Both countries agree that their political, security and economic interests are fundamentally enhanced by increased regional economic growth and cooperation in the Middle East.
o Reflecting the U.S’s unshakable commitment to Israel’s security, the United States supports increased levels of foreign aid assistance to Israel in future years to help Israel meet its security requirements.
o These increases, totaling $6 billion, should occur over a ten-year period beginning in FY 2009, with total security assistance over the course of this understanding equal to $30 billion.
So… it is now time. It is now our turn.
Please join us in welcoming Senator Barack Obama and in appreciation of his determined focus on the safety and security of the United States and its most important ally, Israel.

1 Comment

The United States should continue its support of Israel, the only democratic state in a land of kings, ayatollas and dictators. The right of return to all Jews shows Israel as a humane country. I am for all the support we can give to this model country.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 22, 2007 10:47 PM.

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