By Ben Smith, Politico
Leading conservatives will launch a new pro-Israel group this week with a scathing attack on Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, the first shot in what they say will be a confrontational campaign against the Obama administrationâ€™s Mideast policy and the Democrats who support it.
The Emergency Committee for Israelâ€™s Leadership unites two major strands of support for the Jewish state: The hawkish, neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, many of whom are Jewish, and conservative Evangelical Christians who have become increasingly outspoken in their support for Israel. The new groupâ€™s board includes Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol and Gary Bauer, the former Republican presidential candidate who leads the group American Values, as well as Rachel Abrams, a conservative writer and activist.
â€œWeâ€™re the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community,â€ said Kristol.
While President Barack Obama and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to put the best public face on their differences after a White House meeting last week, the two leaders have had a contentious relationship. Some American backers of Israel, as well as many Israelis, remain deeply suspicious of Obamaâ€™s efforts to press Israel toward specific policy shifts and to improve American relations with the Muslim world.
The new committee declined to disclose its funding â€” as a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, it isnâ€™t required to â€” but said it had raised enough to air its first ad, starting this week, on Fox and CNN and during a Philadelphia Phillies game. The ad attacks Sestak for signing a letter criticizing Israelâ€™s blockade of Gaza while not signing a defense of Israel circulated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and for appearing at a fundraiser for the Council on American Islamic Relations, which it describes as an â€œanti-Israel organization the FBI called a â€˜front group for Hamas.â€™â€
CAIR denied the 2008 allegation, and no charges were ever brought against it.
â€œDoes Congressman Joe Sestak understand Israel is Americaâ€™s ally?â€ asks the adâ€™s narrator.
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