Monday, December 15, 2014

Mike Rounds Hires A Public Relations Pro From The American-Israel Lobby To Be His Legislative Director. They're Fist-Bumping In Tel Aviv.

 Rounds May Have Been Bought By Israel, But He's Got Company
 It was neither subtle nor underhanded, just standard political payback.  
Senator-elect Mike Rounds announced this week that he has hired Greg Rickman as legislative director.  Rickman is a deputy director at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. That Rounds should seek out a top aide from one of Israel's major lobbying enterprises in the United States squares with the Senator-elect's early efforts at wooing support from Israel and its political forces in this country.
    In May, 2013, Rounds took a much ballyhooed trip to Israel. Apparently disdaining a similar trip to any Arab nations in the region, his campaign announced the visit with much fanfare and glee, even calling attention to an approving nod from Brian Goldberg, a professor at Los Angeles' Jewish American University.  Said the prof, "building a connection to Israel could have political benefits for Rounds." 
     Looks like Goldberg got it right.  The Arab cause-friendly Washington Report On Middle East Affairs, noted last August that Rounds received $7500.00 from "pro-Israel PACs" while Democratic opponent Rick Weiland received nothing.  Additionally, The Jewish Link Of Bergen County confirms** WRMEA's report that Rounds in August 2013 attended a "pro-Israel event in New Jersey" where he "stated that Jerusalem should be officially recognized as the capital of Israel."  

Mike Rounds At New Jersey Pro-Israel
Bash, Summer 2013

From The Jewish Link Of Bergen County

    That's pretty incendiary stuff, actually, but comes as no surprise, especially considering the Pew research graphics above, which show strong support for Israel among Americans generally, and overwhelmingly strong support among Republicans specifically.  Rounds seems consistent with his party's collective political inclination.  I can't find any numbers as to how South Dakotans shake out on this, but given the redness of our state's political cast, I'd guess that we could be considered largely sympathetic to Israel.  Informed readers, please don't hesitate to correct me with survey numbers I haven't been able to find.
    Why Rounds felt it was so necessary to make a strong show of support for Israel as early-on as he did makes only marginal political sense.  He was pretty much seen as a shoo-in back then and there was no need to go trolling for support from a special interest group that is so redolent of political and emotional controversy.  Heck, one of my readers, with some rage and denotative support, calls Greg Rickman "a pro-Israel propagandist."  More hard feelings are sure to surface, considering that the issue of one power occupying the historic lands of another is such a sensitive matter in South Dakota.  At this point, the toughest part for us Rounds constituents is knowing if his positions on Middle Eastern issues are free from political commitments or driven by them.  With Rickman functioning as legislative director, it's hard to see how any of Rounds' votes on Middle Eastern issues won't be pre-ordained.
**You might have to type "Mike Rounds Norpac" into the search box of the link for the full story on Rounds' attendance at the affair.  Just in case the story drops off the paper's website altogether, here's the full text, which included the picture of Rounds and his hosts posted above:  "Teaneck—On August 26th NORPAC hosted a Q&A pro-Israel event with former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds at the home of Drs. Mort & Esther Fridman in Teaneck. Rounds, who served for eight years as Governor after five terms as a State Senator, is currently running for the open U.S. Senate seat of retiring Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD).  Having recently completed a trip to Israel with his wife and State Senator Stan Adelstein, Governor Rounds said to the gathering in Teaneck that “[Israel] is a Holy Land where the holiest of men walked and our allies remain. It must be defended, secured, and supported.” His visit reaffirmed his belief that U.S. aid to Israel and supporting her against hostile nations is critical to our nation’s foreign policy. He further stated that Jerusalem should be officially recognized as the capital of Israel and that the administration should comply with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which would relocate the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s capital."

1 comment:

  1. Well said John. I sure wish that Stace Nelson would have hit on this in the primary.