(Michael Goldstein, Star-Ledger)
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Did the RJC Use a Fake Democrat in Its “Buyer’s Remorse” Ad?

What this signals about the defining issue of the 2012 election

Adam Chandler
August 03, 2012
(Michael Goldstein, Star-Ledger)

As we reported last week the Republican Jewish Coalition has launched a new initiative to bring Jewish voters into the conservative fold. The campaign is called “Buyer’s Remorse,” and its first ad features a video of a New Jersey man named Michael Goldstein who claims to be a “lifelong Democrat” who held fundraisers and voted for Obama in 2008 but is now supporting Romney.

In the video, Goldstein thinks aloud about the economy and then about President Obama’s mention of 1967 borders as a basis for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (here’s a clip of George W. Bush also calling for the 1967 borders), and decides that it’s time for a new direction. The RJC is obviously hoping that other Jewish Democrats will feel the same way.

The problem is that Goldstein—while Jewish—doesn’t actually appear to be a Democrat. His New Jersey Voter Registration has him listed as “undeclared.” And also, Goldstein contributed $250 to Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign in 2007, hardly the work of any lifelong Democrat.

Goldstein sort of explained himself in an interview with the New Jersey Jewish News:

“He [Giuliani] was a friend of my father’s. There are good things and bad things you can say about him, but I think he did a great job running New York.”

In the same interview, Goldstein, while listing some of President Obama’s policies that he agrees with, also said this:

I believed Obama was going to be a supporter of Israel or if not a supporter of Israel, he would maintain a balanced view. I didn’t think he would be worse than Jimmy Carter. At least with Carter at Camp David, I felt [Carter] was an honest broker, especially when it came to dealing with Arafat. But I think Obama doesn’t believe in the state of Israel. That truly is troubling to me. So I said ‘this is not the guy for me anymore.’

This brings to mind three questions:

When did Jimmy Carter met with Yasser Arafat at Camp David?

And also, as far as tall orders go, when did Barack Obama stop believing in the State of Israel —whatever you think of his stances on specific issues—and become worse than Jimmy Carter, who makes Obama look like Dick Cheney.

The third question is the most important one: Will Israel be the defining issue that leads Jewish voters to abandon the Democratic Party this year, and will that abandonment be based on confusion AND misinformation or on the truth of Obama’s conduct in office?

Update, 11:24 A.M.: Calls for comment to the RJC both earlier this week and this morning were not returned.

Update, 2:12 P.M.: Matthew Brooks, the Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, called this afternoon to reply to this post:

We stand by everything in that ad. First of all, Michael [Goldstein] is absolutely a lifelong Democrat. The fact is he made one contribution to Rudy Giuliani, who is a longtime family friend. Michael is one of millions of Democrats who supported Rudy Giuliani and the fact that he supported Rudy Giuliani makes him anything less of a Democrat is absurd [sic]. The $250 check was for some fundraiser at a bowling alley that he never even went to. The fact that he wrote a $250 check to Rudy Giuliani in no way weakens his Democrat bona fides. He supported Eliot Spitzer for governor; there is no question about the veracity of anything he has said or representations that he’s made.

Brooks also explained that there are plenty of reasons why a lifelong Democrat like Goldstein would avoid registering as Democrat, among them to avoid “getting direct mail pieces and calls from telemarketers. Maybe it’s a work reason, I don’t know.” And he claimed that Goldstein was misquoted in the New Jersey Jewish News when he praised Jimmy Carter for the way he dealt with Arafat, when Goldstein really said Anwar Sadat.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.