iVoteIsrael, the organization dedicated to registering U.S. absentee voters in Israel, has repeatedly stressed that it is nonpartisan.
Its “About us” page notes that its parent organization, Americans for Jerusalem, is “an issue-based campaign… without endorsing any specific candidate or party.” And in a July interview with JTA, iVoteIsrael’s national director, Elie Pieprz, said that iVoteIsrael is “very proud that we have both Republicans and Democrats. There’s no focus on who people are going to be voting for in the future.”
But some of the group’s materials seem to undercut its claims to nonpartisanship.
Before Rosh Hashanah, iVoteIsrael sent out an ad on Janglo, a listserv for English speakers in Jerusalem, that directly criticized the Obama administration. Featuring a picture of Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, the ad reads, “White House spokesman refuses to name Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Register to vote today to compel the administration to get it right.”
In an email to a subscriber regarding the ad, Janglo apologized for the ad’s partisanship. “While Janglo supports active participation in democracy, we had specifically requested from the advertiser that the campaign avoid blatant political references,” the email read.
Pieprz — who has past affiliations with Republicans Abroad Israel and the conservative U.S. nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform — told JTA the ad “should not be seen as partisan," saying it’s a call for the administration to clear up "the inconsistency within the Obama White House" on the issue of whether or not Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem has been a political football in this year’s presidential campaign. Echoing previous administrations, the Obama Administration says that the status of Jerusalem should be left to Israelis and Palestinians to determine. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, by contrast, called Jerusalem the capital of Israel in a policy speech in Jerusalem. And the Democratic Party faced some heat after it failed to mention Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in its party platform. The party then reinserted the language amid objections from some delegates.