Ari Fleischer kicks off RJC voter drive in Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli-American voters can make a difference in the upcoming presidential election, Ari Fleischer told Anglo-Israelis at the start of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s voter drive in Israel.

Fleischer, President George W. Bush’s press secretary and an RJC board member, and RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks spoke to the audience — most of whom appeared to be Romney supporters — on Tuesday night in Jerusalem.

They are in Israel this week to persuade American Jews living here to register to vote and cast a ballot for Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and hoping that Israel’s American expatriate community may provide the former Massachusetts governor a small bump on Election Day.

“Imagine it’s Nov. 6, you wake up, you don’t vote, you hear we have another razor-thin election,” Fleischer told the group.

The audience of mostly middle-aged religious expatriates contrasted sharply with the 23 college students sitting in the front rows wearing gray T-shirts bearing the words “Return of the right” below a picture of a blue-and-white eagle flying into a red star. They were on a two-week Israel trip organized by Young Jewish Conservatives.

Brooks outlined the “existential threat from a nuclear Iran,” the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist party in power in Egypt and “civil war in Syria” while also touching on the U.S. economy and jobs.

Fleischer, criticizing President Obama, said that “The choice is between pushing Israel around as President Obama has done, and Governor Romney, who will stand strong by Israel’s side.”

The event and the Brooks-Fleischer trip was organized by iVoteIsrael, an American nonprofit dedicated to registering Americans to vote in Israel. Under each seat lay an absentee ballot registration form and a pen.

Elie Pieprz, who runs iVoteIsrael, stressed that the group is nonpartisan and promoted upcoming visits from “high-profile Democratic personalities.”

About three-quarters of American Jewish voters opted for Obama in 2008, but about that same percentage of Americans living in Israel voted for his GOP opponent, Sen. John McCain, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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