Last updated on October 29th, 2023 at 05:53 am
As the bright lights of Las Vegas illuminate the Nevada desert, the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting this year is anything but business as usual. The escalating conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, a surge in antisemitism in the United States, and the looming 2024 Republican primaries have converged to make this year’s gathering a high-stakes affair.
The Setting and Key Issues
Held at the opulent Venetian Resort, the event is drawing a who’s who of Republican officials, lawmakers, and would-be presidents. The topics on the agenda are as urgent as they are varied: Israel’s security, rising antisemitism, and the political calculus for 2024.
Voices from the Coalition
“I’ve never seen an atmosphere like this,” said Matt Brooks, the chair of the organization. “The eyes of the world are on us. We’re at a unique moment of peril for Israel and for American Jewry.”
Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary under President George W. Bush and a member of the RJC’s board, was equally direct: “This isn’t just about foreign policy; it’s personal. Many here have relatives in the Israel Defense Forces. They want to see unwavering support for Israel, especially now.”
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All eyes are on how the candidates will differentiate themselves from former President Donald Trump, who remains a dominant force in Republican politics. Trump’s recent criticisms of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have raised eyebrows and offered an opening for his potential successors.
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“Trump’s comments on Netanyahu were surprising, to say the least,” said Eric Levine, a New York lawyer and RJC board member. “But let’s be clear, this event will test whether any of the candidates can actually step out of his shadow.”
Security Measures and Public Interest
Given the heightened tensions, security at the event has been significantly ramped up. An empty Shabbat table sits in the middle of the room, honoring those held hostage in Gaza. Alongside the U.S. national anthem, attendees will sing Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem.
Public interest in the event has surged. “We’ve had to add extra seats to accommodate the wave of new attendees,” said an event organizer.
The meeting comes at a time when Republicans are scrutinizing President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy, particularly his approach to Israel and the recent U.S.-Iran prisoner deal. “This is more than an internal Republican matter; it’s a statement on what our party stands for, especially when it comes to Israel,” said a top Republican donor who wished to remain anonymous.
This year’s Republican Jewish Coalition meeting is not just another stop on the political circuit. It’s a microcosm of the crises and questions facing not just the Republican Party, but the nation as a whole. As GOP hopefuls take the stage, they’re not just auditioning for a role in the 2024 elections; they’re weighing in on issues that have immediate, life-and-death consequences for millions. And in doing so, they’re shaping the future of a party at a crossroads, a nation in turmoil, and an alliance under strain.