Bush tells U.S. Jewish voters: You've got a friend

By Nathan Guttman


August 12, 2004

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush appealed directly to the American Jewish community this week, in a glossy booklet sent to American Jewish organizational leaders that highlights his good relations with the community, its leadership, and with Israel.

The appeal is considered another step in Republican efforts to win over Jewish votes from the Democratic party.

The 26-page booklet, entitled "President George W. Bush - A Friend of the American Jewish Community," outlines the history of Bush's relationship with the American Jewish community, the struggle against anti-Semitism, the war against terror, and assistance to Israel.

"Today, Jews in America know they have a steadfast friend and defender in the Oval Office," the booklet states in its introduction.

Only 39 percent of American Jews voted for President Bush in the 2000 election, and since then Republicans have been making a significant effort to woe the Jewish vote on November 2.

The booklet is studded with full-page pictures of Bush at various Jewish events, and notes Bush's statements against anti-Semitism and against the statements of Mahatir Mohammed, former prime minister of Malaysia. It also highlights administration action against terror, including Bush's declaration that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is a terror organization, and the arrest of Hamas fund-raisers in the U.S. Bush also presents disengagement as a central achievement in his support for Israel.

"For Yasser Arafat, the message has been clear," the booklet states. "While he was a frequent White House guest during the last administration, he has never been granted a meeting with President Bush."

At the end of the booklet the White House presents a series of quotes from prominent Jewish leaders supporting Bush. A number of those quoted said they had not given permission for their statements to be used, and had not intended them to express political support for Bush.

The National Jewish Democratic Coalition (NJDC) criticized the White House for publishing the booklet.

"This is completely inappropriate," said David Harris, NJDC deputy executive director. "It is something a campaign should be putting out, not the White House. It is overtly political."