On the Road with Ari Fleischer & Matt Brooks

As some of you may know (and if you don’t, take a look at our Facebook photo album!), iVoteIsrael hosted former White House Press Secretary of the Bush Administration, Ari Fleischer, and Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.  Ari and Matt came as Republicans who support Romney, but iVoteIsrael remains a non-partisan organization who simply provided a platform for them to speak.  We will provide a similar platform for a Democrat in the coming weeks.

Ari and Matt traveled to the US to urge American citizens in Israel to vote and made the case that not only are absentee ballots counted, but that the approximately 163,000 eligible voters living in Israel could significantly influence the outcome of the US presidential elections– especially given the fact that polls are showing that Obama and Romney are neck and neck.  Fleischer said this as a ‘survivor’ of the Florida recount in 2000, in which the election was in the hands of just over 500 voters.

As iVoteIsrael employees, we got to spend quite a bit of time with Ari and Matt last week and in addition to scheduled events, got to hear quite a few interesting tidbits.

First of all, at the Psagot Winery, we found out that Matt Brooks is a wine connesuir.  He taught our very own Voting Wizard/Expert/Campaign Coordinator, Shira Woolf,  how to swirl her wine before drinking it.


Ari Fleischer and Matt Brooks at the Psagot Winery

Not only that, but Matt treated us to goodbye drinks and chose a delicious Israeli wine called ‘The Cave’- which this lucky blogger got to finish up on Shabbat.

Ari told us that he grew up a liberal democrat.  What changed him?  Jimmy Carter.   He told us that his mom often voted for democratic candidates and that when Ari worked with former President Bush, the president would always ask, regarding Ari’s mother, “Do I have her yet?”   The answer remains a mystery!


Matt Brooks in a black hat with Agudah’s Rav Shmuely Machlis…. perhaps his next career move will necessitate the title, “Rav Matt?”

When asked about a rewarding moment in his career, Ari told us about a woman who lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks.  She told Ari that when he was on TV during the time following the attacks, he made her feel calm.

Curious about Ari and Matt’s visit? Check out some of the posts by the bloggers who attended our press conference (below).  Also, check out @ivoteisrael on Twitter for quotes from the events.

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Some interesting analysis on the US elections from various sources

Seems like the momentum is really picking up with respect to the US presidential elections.  As an American living in Israel, it’s your job to keep up!  We’ve made it a bit easier and compiled a few interesting articles for you:

Religion Could Tip The US Presidential Race – The Times of Israel

Barack Obama– Friend of Jews, Scholar of Judaism (Or not?)  – The Weekly Standard

President Obama Commemorates Jewish Heritage Month – TIP on the Trail

VIDEO:  Americans Living in Israel Said to Favour Romney – Jewish News One


iVoteIsrael doesn’t endorse a specific candidate or political party, but as election season gets into gear one thing is clear:  there is a lot at stake.  If you’re concerned about Israel’s safety and security, Register To Vote in the US elections.  The US elections and our safety and security in Israel are interrelated.

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Why might the next US president influence your life, as an Israeli citizen? Part One.

For some American ex-pats, voting in the US elections seems futile: I won’t have to live with the consequences of the American elections, so why should I continue to vote?  That may be valid reasoning for American ex-pats in some countries but for American citizens living Israel, that simply isn’t the case.  Here’s a quick glance at the issues that the US president may influence and thus, have a direct effect on your life here in Israel:

Iran.  Everyone’s talking about sanctions vs. military intervention,  but what does it have to do with the US?  Whether or not Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear facilities remains to be seen and is a subject that is widely debated.  However, the current and future US president is heavily involved in the movement to put sanctions on Iran in order to attempt to put a stop to their alleged quest to develop nuclear weapons.  In the event that Israel does choose to take military action against Iran, it is likely that some sort of cooperation between the two countries will be required– be it financial or military intervention from the United States.  If you’re concerned about how Israel will handle the situation with Iran, there is no question that the next US president will influence the outcome of any diplomatic and/or military interventions.

The Establishment of a Palestinian State.  Will a Palestinian State be established?  If so, where will the borders be drawn? What will happen to Israeli settlements in the West Bank? To what extent will Israel be able to defend its new borders?  If these are all questions whose answers are important to you, it’s imperative to acknowledge the fact that the current and future US president, for better or for worse, have a large influence on the negotiations that take place.  

Jerusalem.  Will Jerusalem be split into two entities, or will it remain the undivided capital of the Jewish State? Will Jews be able to build homes in East Jerusalem?  Similar to the negotiations and talks surrounding the issue of a Palestinian State, the American president is involved in these negotiations and arguably has a large amount of influence on Israel policies, given the close relationship between the two governments.  

Defense Budget & the Economy. The US gives Israel millions of dollars in aid each year, much of which is at the discretion of the US president.  Whether or not Israel could maintain the status quo without this money is widely debated but the question really is– do we want to find out?

This is just a sampling of the issues that will likely be influenced by the next US president, and they all have a direct effect on our lives here in Israel.  For that reason, iVoteIsrael urges those of us who are concerned about Israel’s safety and security to vote in the upcoming US elections for the candidate that YOU think would make the best choices regarding Israel.  If you’re worried about whether or not your absentee vote will actually be counted, read this.  If you’re worried about the IRS, click here.

Even better, if you’re ready to register for your absentee ballot in 2 minutes or less, free of charge, go to iVoteIsrael and do it now!

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Not sure if you’re going to vote in the US elections via absentee ballot? Check this out first.

The US presidential elections are rapidly approaching, as are the state deadlines for registration- yet, some of you still aren’t sure if you want to vote.

  • Concerned that they don’t even count absentee ballots? They do. We promise.
  • Not sure if you have a right to vote in a country that you no longer live in? You do. Here’s why.
  • Think it’s impossible for one vote to make a difference in terms of election results? Here’s some recent elections with a teeny, tiny margin of error– proof that every vote counts.
  • Okay, okay- you’re convinced.  But you don’t have time for lots of paperwork!  Neither do we.  Here’s how you can vote in 2 minutes or less.
  • Have questions about voter eligibility or the registration process? See our FAQs or email shira@ivoteisrael.com directly.
  • Need some entertainment and a little more encouragement? See below.
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Barack Obama: Who is he, and what is he saying about Israel and the Middle East?

Full Name: Barack Hussein Obama II
Age: 51
Place of Birth: Honolulu, Hawaii
Political Career:
  • Member of Illinois Senate (1997-2004)
  • U.S Senator from Illinois (2005-228
  • 44th President of the United States
Religion Christian

Quotes attributed to Barack Obama in Relation to Israel and the Middle East

“…The fact is my administration’s commitment to Israel’s security has been unprecedented. Our military and intelligence cooperation has never been closer. Our joint exercises and training have never been more robust. Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance has increased every single year. We are investing in new capabilities. We’re providing Israel with more advanced technology the types of products and systems that only go to our closest friends and allies. And make no mistake: We will do what it takes to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat….I have provided critical funding to deploy the Iron Dome system that has intercepted rockets that might have hit homes and hospitals and schools in that town and in others. Now our assistance is expanding Israel’s defensive capabilities, so that more Israelis can live free from the fear of rockets and ballistic missiles. Because no family, no citizen, should live in fear.” (AIPAC, 4 March 2012)

“…when efforts are made to equate Zionism to racism, we reject them. When international fora single out Israel with unfair resolutions, we vote against them. When attempts are made to delegitimize the state of Israel, we oppose them. When faced with a regime that threatens global security and denies the Holocaust and threatens to destroy Israel, the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 23 April 2012)

“And just as we’ve been there with our security assistance, we’ve been there through our diplomacy. When the Goldstone report unfairly singled out Israel for criticism, we challenged it. When Israel was isolated in the aftermath of the flotilla incident, we supported them. When the Durban conference was commemorated, we boycotted it, and we will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism…So there should not be a shred of doubt by now when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back….” (AIPAC, 4 March 2012)

…Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: no Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction…

When I took office, the efforts to apply pressure on Iran were in tatters. Iran had gone from zero centrifuges spinning to thousands, without facing broad pushback from the world….Because of our efforts, Iran is under greater pressure than ever before… Few thought that sanctions could have an immediate bite on the Iranian regime. They have, slowing the Iranian nuclear program and virtually grinding the Iranian economy to a halt in 2011….Sanctions are continuing to increase, and this July thanks to our diplomatic coordination a European ban on Iranian oil imports will take hold…

And given their history, there are, of course, no guarantees that the Iranian regime will make the right choice. But both Israel and the United States have an interest in seeing this challenge resolved diplomatically. After all, the only way to truly solve this problem is for the Iranian government to make a decision to forsake nuclear weapons. That’s what history tells us….

I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power… [including] a military effort…Now is the time to heed the timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: Speak softly; carry a big stick…” (AIPAC, 4 March 2012)

“…The time has come — the time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. And the goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security — a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people….

…Now, I am not naïve. I know this will be difficult. But all of us — not just the Israelis and the Palestinians, but all of us — must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we will only lend it lip service…

We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It’s not paid by politicians. It’s paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the middle of the night. It’s paid for by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are all God’s children.” (United Nations General Assembly, 23 September 2009)


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Mitt Romney: Who is he, and what is he saying about Israel and the Middle East?

Full Name: Willard Mitt Romney
Age: 65
Place of Birth Detroit, Michigan
Education: Brigham Young University, Harvard
Political Career:
  • Elected Governor of Massachusetts in 2003
  • Defeated by John McCain for the Republican Presidential Nomination in 2008
  • Projected Republican Presidential Candidate in 2012
Religion: Mormon

Quotes attributed to Mitt Romney in Relation to Israel and the Middle East

“State taxpayers should not be providing special treatment to an individual who supports violent jihad and the destruction of Israel.” (Harvard University, September 2006)

“ {If elected} My first foreign trip will be to Israel, to show the world we care about that country and that region,” (Foreign Policy Debate, Washington DC, November 2011)

“I have studied the writings and speeches of the jihadists. They argue for a one-state solution—one all-dominating radical Islamist state, that is. Their objective is not freedom, not prosperity, not a Palestinian state, but the destruction of Israel. And negotiating and placating such jihadists will never, ever yield peace in the Middle East. I recognize in the ayatollahs of Iran the zealot refrain of dominion. Their passion for the martyrdom of Arab youth is matched only by their cowardice in avoiding it for themselves.” (AIPAC, 2012)

“[Obama] seems firmly and clearly determined to undermine our longtime friend and ally. He’s treating Israel the same way so many European countries have: with suspicion, distrust and an assumption that Israel is at fault.” (AIPAC, October 2011)

“Stop thinking that a charm offensive will talk the Iranians out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It will not….. Once an outstretched hand is met with a clenched fist, it becomes a symbol of weakness and impotence.” (AIPAC, 2009)

“You don’t take options off the table. All over the world we’re seeing the same thing happening, and that is, people are testing the US. We have to make sure they understand that we’re not arrogant. We have resolve. And we have the strength to protect our interests and to protect people who love liberty. For that to happen, we’re going to have not just to attack each one of these problems one by one, but say, ‘How do we help move the world of Islam so that the moderate Muslims can reject the extreme?’ And for that to happen, we’re going to have to have a strong military and an effort to combine with our allies in such a way that we combine for an effort to help move Islam towards modernity. There is a war going on, and we need a broad response to make sure that these people have a different vision.” (2007 GOP Debate, St. Anselm College, New Hampshire)

“I think when there’s a country like Lebanon, that becomes a democracy, that instead of standing by and seeing how they do, we should have been working with the government there to assure that they have the rule of law, that they have agricultural and economic policies that work for them, that they have schools that are not Wahhabi schools, that we try and make sure they have good health care. We bring together not just America, but all the nations of the civilized world. We help draw these folks toward modernity, as opposed to having them turn toward the violence and the extreme. And that kind of a campaign of values, combined with our strong arms, speaking softly but carrying a strong stick, as Teddy Roosevelt said, that will help move the world to a safer place. We’d love it if we could all just come home and not worry about the rest of the world. But the problem is, they attacked us on 9/11. We want to help move the world of Islam toward modernity so they can reject the extreme.” (2007 Iowa Straw Poll Debate)

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The Case for Voting in the US Elections, Even If You Don’t Live in the US.

For many of us, making aliyah is more than a move across the ocean; rather, it’s an expression of our Jewish and/or Zionist ideology and often has more to do with our hearts and souls than practicalities often associated with moving from one place to another.  Leaving the United States for Israel seems crazy to some, but no matter how fond we are of the American Dream that we left behind, we made this move because our Jewish and/or Zionist identities are more significant to us than the fact that we were born in America.  Immediately upon arrival, or even before, our political priorities change.  We’re far more concerned with Israel’s future than the political realities that affect day-to-day life in the US and for some, this weighs heavily on their decision to vote or not to vote in the upcoming US presidential elections.

Some olim feel that they are no longer invested in what happens at the White House and some even feel that they no longer have a right to vote in their country of birth.  Here at iVoteIsrael, we understand these sentiments– but we disagree profoundly.

First of all, as an American citizen, you have a legal right to vote in the United States.  As an American citizen, you’re still obligated to report your income to the IRS in America, so why shouldn’t you be granted a right to vote (though voting via absentee ballot does not interfere with your tax status or cause the IRS to contact you)?

Secondly, and more importantly, you’d have to live under a rock to be unaware of the fact that Israeli citizens are affected profoundly by US government policy in the Middle East.  The United States is regarded as our closest, most significant ally and Israel’s safety and security is impacted directly by the US government.  So what does that mean, exactly?

It means that as an Israeli citizen, you are just as likely– if not more likely — to be affected by the outcome of the 2012 US presidential elections as your average American citizen who lives in the US.  If you’re concerned about Israel’s safety and security, do yourself and your nation a favor– vote.  You have the right and a responsibility to do so.

Voting in the US elections via absentee ballot is easy and it only takes 2 minutes.  Visit iVoteIsrael.com to register.

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