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How Perry Fought the Flotilla

GOP frontrunner aided ‘pro-Israel lawfare’

Marc Tracy
August 24, 2011
Gov. Rick Perry earlier this month in Iowa.(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Gov. Rick Perry earlier this month in Iowa.(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

First Rasmussen’s, and now Gallup’s new poll has Gov. Rick Perry of Texas leading by double-digits among national Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. (In second in Mitt Romney; in third, more surprisingly, is Rep. Ron Paul.)

I wrote yesterday that Perry would seem not to have much to recommend him to typical Jewish voters other than his support for Israel—but that that support indeed is strong. Today brings new evidence of this, with the news that Perry played a surprisingly outsized role in helping Israel secure the tremendous diplomatic victory earlier this summer of halting the second annual Gaza-bound flotilla before it even got off the ground (or, rather, left the port). Commentary reports that Shurat HaDin—the Israeli legal center whose “pro-Israel lawfare” played an essential role in disabling the ten ships that made up the presumptive flotilla—received Perry’s aid in drawing the U.S. government’s attention to the fact that American citizens aboard the flotilla (like Alice Walker) were potentially planning to violate the Neutrality Act. That law—which dates back to George Washington!—prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in hostile acts against U.S.-allied countries. As part of their lobbying of Attorney General Eric Holder, at its request Rick Perry sent the nation’s top cop a letter backing the group. Apparently Perry had met its directors on a trip to Israel. “I love what you do. It’s amazing what you do,” he had told them, one of them said. “If you ever need help combating Israel’s enemies, I’m here to assist.”

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.