Saturday, March 28, 2015

Republican road to 2016 White House may run through Israel. Ted Cruz mention of Israel drew roaring, standing ovation from Evangelical Christians. Importance of Israel as election issue can only grow as US government treatment of the nation worsens-Keith Koffler, Reuters blog

3/16/15, "The Republican road to the White House runs through Israel," Reuters blogs, Keith Koffler

"As Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) announced on Monday that he is running for president, his Virginia audience cheered. He dropped applause line after applause line on some 10,000 students at Liberty University, which bills itself as the largest Christian university in the world....

There was applause throughout. But one line prompted the students to erupt into a roaring, 30-second, standing ovation:

"Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel."

It brought down the house.

There can be little doubt. Evangelical Christian voters, a key component of the Republican Party base, are wild about Israel. They are also furious about what they see as President Barack Obama’s rough treatment of the current custodian of the Holy Land, Netanyahu....

Evangelicals might also view Israel as a reliable steward of the Holy Land. Israel has maintained many Christian sites and keeps the areas accessible to visitors. Should Islamic extremists — such as Islamic State, which is busy destroying historical artifacts — ever seize control of a Palestinian state, results for sacred Christian sites could be catastrophic.

But support on the American right for Israel may also have to do with an attitude toward Islam informed by national security concerns. Pew found in a June 2014 survey that 72 percent of those describing themselves as “steadfast conservatives” believe the Islamic religion is “more likely than others to encourage violence,” compared to just 13 percent of liberals.

Traditionally, backing for Israel has been viewed as a lure for Jewish votes. That will still be true during the 2016 presidential cycle, particularly in the general election. This has long bolstered the Democratic Party, however. With Republican candidates advocating strong support for Israel, they could cause many Jewish voters to defect to the GOP, and undermine the Democratic nominee.

Jewish voters in Florida, which Obama won in 2012, counted for 5 percent of the state’s vote. Given the extreme tightness of the presidential contests there, a shift of Jewish voters to the Republican camp could turn the state from blue to red — and possibly deliver its Electoral College votes, too.

Jewish voters in swing states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, and to a lesser extent, Ohio could also have an impact. But more than half of all Jews in the United States live in New York, California and New Jersey, states that are solidly in the Democratic camp. The importance of the Jewish vote is lower than it used to be when those states were in play for Republicans....

If relations with Israel continue to deteriorate and Obama moves to “re-assess” Washington’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian question, the importance of Israel as an election issue to those with an emotional attachment to the nation will only grow.

And a Republican could ride that wave of emotion straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

"Keith Koffler is the editor of the website White House Dossier and the morning news tip sheet REDLINE." Above image, Ted Cruz, 9/25/13, leaving Senate chamber after ObamaCare marathon, Reuters


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