Republicans talk a lot about attracting Jewish voters to their column, but they know their chances of making dramatic gains are small at best, and that once again Barack Obama and the Democrats will win an overwhelming majority of Jewish votes.
So why are they devoting so much time and energy to portraying the incumbent as hostile to the interests of the Jewish state? It isn't because they want to win votes of evangelical Christians because they've already got that locked up.
The answer is money.
Once again, Republicans are doing much better with Jewish contributors than with Jewish voters. One reason may be that the wealthiest may be a lot more conservative than the mainstream of our community. As one of my professors once said, "I used to be a liberal like you when I was poor, but now that I'm rich and have something to conserve I've become a conservative."
Most Jews are not single-issue voters, and polls have consistently shown Israel is not the number one issue on their agenda, that their votes are decided on other issues where they perceive a wide gap between the major parties, such as the economy, health care, education, the environment, civil liberties, abortion and gender discrimination.
But Israel is Issue One for some very wealthy GOP contributors. In particular, a pair of billionaires with close ties to the far right in Israel, the settler movement and to personally Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Sheldon Adelson and Irving Moskowitz.
Las Vegas casino mogul Adelson and his family have already given $21.5 million to Republican super PACs in just this election cycle. $16.5 million went to support the failed candidacy of Newt Gingrich and most recently another $5 million went to a PAC to help elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
There's more where that came from – Adelson is reportedly worth over $21.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine. And he also has a lot of rich friends, many of who are invited to a political fundraiser he is reportedly hosting at one of his Las Vegas hotels this weekend.
Bingo parlor mogul Moskowitz contributed $1 million to Karl Rove's Super PAC, American Crossroads, whose primary mission is to defeat Barack Obama. That's only a fraction of what he's given to Israel groups that are buying up property in Arab neighborhoods around Jerusalem and in the West Bank to expand or build settlements and move out Palestinian residents. Closer to home he has helped bankroll "birther" groups that question Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship and others who try to link the President to "radical" Islamists.
With 200 more days remaining in what is expected to be the first multi-billion-dollar campaign, these contributions are opening bets and can be expected to rise.
Democrats are courting their own congregation of rich Jews, and we'll be reporting on those million-dollar donors as well.