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ELECTION WATCH 2016

Trump reportedly to get big money from Adelson

(JTA) — Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson plans to spend tens of millions of dollars to help elect Donald Trump president, The New York Times reported. On Friday, May 13, the Times quoted two Republicans as saying that Trump and Adelson met last week in New York when Adelson was in the city to attend an event of the World Values Network, a Jewish group he helps fund. Adelson, a Jewish billionaire, Republican mega-giver and pro-Israel philanthropist, said he was ready to spend more than he had in any prior bid to elect a president, even in excess of $100 million, according to the report. Trump late Saturday retweeted an excerpt of the Times story published by Breitbart News, a right-wing outlet that has favored the real estate magnate and reality TV star’s bid.

Spending by Adelson and his wife, Miriam, in the 2012 elections has been estimated at between $98 million and $150 million, but that includes money spent on congressional races. Adelson plans to focus almost exclusively on the presidential race in this election cycle, the report said.

Last week, Adelson declared his support for Trump in a Washington Post op-ed but did not say whether that would mean a cash infusion. Until now, Trump has been self-funded. But as he heads into a general election, Trump has said he will seek outside funding.

Jewish Republicans have been particularly unsettled by his equivocating on what once were sine qua nons of Republican support for Israel, including tilting toward Israel in its dealings with Palestinians, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and pledging to maintain and increase defense assistance for Israel. Trump at times has said he would remain neutral on Israel and the Palestinians. He refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before walking back that position and has suggested Israel should pay for U.S. defense assistance.

 

Bill Clinton: ‘I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state’

(JTA) — Saying “I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state,” former President Bill Clinton defended his record on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, and his wife’s, at a campaign event. “I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza,” Clinton said Friday in response to a heckler at an event in New Jersey in support of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Politico first reported.

The former president also commended Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term from 2009 to 2013 pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet and make peace, and defended her against the heckler who pointed out that she said “neutrality is not an option” in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“There’s nobody who’s blameless in the Middle East, but we cannot really ever make a fundamental difference in the Middle East unless the Israelis think we care whether they live or die. If they do, we have a chance to keep pushing for peace,” Clinton said. “And that’s her position. Not to agree with the Israeli government on everything, not to pretend that innocents don’t die, not to pretend that more Palestinian children don’t die than Israeli children. But that we can’t get anything done unless they believe, when the chips are down, if somebody comes for them we will not let them be wiped out and become part of the dustbin of history.”

Bill Clinton also condemned Hamas for locating its rocket launchers in civilian areas, leading to higher casualties during Israel’s 2014 war with the terrorist group in Gaza. “Hamas is really smart. When they decide to rocket Israel, they insinuate themselves in the hospitals, in the schools, in the highly populous areas, and they are smart,” Bill Clinton said to audience applause. “They said they try to put the Israelis in a position of either not defending themselves or killing innocents. They’re good at it. They’re smart. They’ve been doing this a long time.”

 

Trump says he will be in Israel ‘soon’

(JNS.org) Asked for his message to Israelis on Yom Hazikaron, the Jewish state’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper last week that he hopes to ensure that Israel will be “in very good shape forever.” “I just want to tell [Israelis] that I am extremely strongly in favor of Israel, I respect it and have loved the people of Israel for a long time. I have many friends who are from Israel and we’re going to make sure that Israel is going to be in very good shape forever,” said Trump.

“We are going to protect Israel,” he added. “Don’t forget, Israel is our great bastion of hope in that region so Israel is very important.”

In response to a comment by Israel Hayom correspondent Boaz Bismuth that he has heard Trump will “be visiting us here in Israel soon, before the election,” Trump responded, “I’ll be there soon.”

 

Donald Trump to meet with Henry Kissinger

(JTA) — Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential front-runner, reportedly will meet with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The meeting is scheduled to take place this week. Several news outlets confirmed the meeting. Trump and Kissinger, 92, have spoken by telephone several times, according to the Post, but this would be their first face-to-face meeting. Kissinger, a Holocaust refugee from Germany, served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He has remained a prominent voice on U.S. foreign policy, particularly within the Republican Party, since leaving public office. Trump has met with some party experts on foreign policy in an attempt to boost his knowledge in the field, especially in the wake of the announcement of his America First policy toward foreign affairs, according to reports.

 

Jewish groups back legislation against banning entry to Muslims

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — From a bid to overcome resistance to building a mosque in New Jersey to defending a Muslim student at a military academy who wants to wear a hijab, Jewish groups this week joined efforts to stop anti-Muslim discrimination.

Nearly a dozen Jewish groups are also backing legislation against banning entry to Muslims, prompted by a proposal for such a ban by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists joined the Becket Fund, a conservative group that advocates for religious liberty, in a friend of the court brief filed May 11, on behalf of Muslims who have been blocked from building a mosque in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Another of the groups backing the Muslim community in the mosque case is the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, a group convened in 2010 by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to support Muslim communities seeking to build mosques. “The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge was held to a different standard than every other house of worship in the community, and that is simply unacceptable,” Joshua Cohen, ADL’s regional director, said in a statement.

Also on May 11, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) called on The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, to allow a Muslim student to wear a hijab. The college president, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, said that deviations from the school’s uniform could detract from leadership training, adding that the college otherwise remains committed to diversity. The AJC statement noted that Jewish groups backed legislation passed in 1988 that allowed servicemen to wear religious garb based on litigation brought in the 1980s by a Jewish Air Force officer who wanted to wear a kippah.

Separately, more than 70 members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday introduced legislation that would prohibit religion as a criterion for banning entry to visitors, immigrants or refugees.

Broadsides against Muslims by Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and other Republican candidates sparked the legislation, which is backed by at least 11 Jewish groups, including umbrella bodies for the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements and the public policy umbrella, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

The bill was initiated by Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. Among the bill’s lead sponsors are Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who is Jewish, and Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Andre Carson, D-Ind., who are Muslim. Also backing the bill are Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the minority whip, and Jewish Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Sander Levin, D-Mich., David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.

All but one of the bill’s backers thus far are Democrats. The exception is Richard Hanna, a moderate Republican from New York.

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