by Eli Clifton
On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will attend a Manhattan fundraiser hosted at the office of attorney Phil Rosen, a major Republican bundler and senior foreign policy advisor to the Florida senator’s presidential run. Rubio’s campaign is clearly going out of its way to identify with hawkish and neoconservative positions. His campaign slogan, “A New American Century,” conjures up the Project for a New American Century, the Bill Kristol-founded group that pushed hard for the Iraq invasion of Iraq. He has said that he would “absolutely” revoke the Iran nuclear deal, even in defiance of Washington’s NATO allies, and has blasted the Obama administration for criticizing Israeli construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
For Rosen, Rubio’s implicit support for Israeli settlements must be music to his ears. Mispacha magazine, a popular publication in Orthodox Jewish communities, published a profile of Rosen last year, highlighting Rosen’s role as a “top advisor” to Mitt Romney during his 2012 presidential campaign and quoting him on his influence on former President George W. Bush’s views toward Israeli settlements.
I clearly was a part of convincing President Bush — and not just President Bush but also his entire staff , many of whom are going to be in future governments — that the settlements are not the reason there’s no peace between Israel and the Palestinians, that it’s clearly Palestinian intransigence that’s the difficulty.
For his entire term, he was cognizant of the danger that Israel faces every day, but I think that at the end of his term, President Bush realized that the Israelis clearly were not the issue and that the Palestinians just weren’t ready for peaceful resolution.
On Twitter, Rosen expresses considerable hostility toward Obama, who, he believes, feels “entitled to screw Israel.”
So many of my good friends are Jewish!!! I’m entitled to screw Israel. Trust me https://t.co/vRkOh2p9Mb
— Phil Rosen (@fragilephil1) May 22, 2015
Rosen, a former chairman of American Friends of Likud and currently a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, has a history of extremist statements, as noted by Alex Kane in Mondoweiss. In a 2007 online column for Arutz Sheva , for example, Rosen wrote that “[President Mahmoud] Abbas and his cohorts and the PLO or PA are evil,” adding that it was “Palestinian society that has a serious pathological problem that cannot be rectified through negotiations and roundtable discussions.”
And in 2003, Rosen penned an op-ed titled “Another Letter to My Children” in which he declared that “this is, was, and will always be, a holy war.” Addressing “Mr. Abbas,” Rosen wrote:
All attempts to destroy the Jewish people have failed, as will yours if you try to force Israel to give up our holy cities, if you try to destroy our religion, our belief. Just as the Nazis failed in their holy war, so will you.
A Rubio Presidency?
Rosen might be a valuable supporter for Rubio—Jewish Insider reports that he is believed to have raised $5 million for Romney in 2012 and “is also close with Sheldon Adelson” (seemingly corroborated by this photo). But Rubio’s decision to align himself so closely with an individual who describes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as as “always… a holy war” would mark a sharp departure from decades-old U.S. policy in the Middle East. All U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, have criticized Israeli settlements in occupied territories since the first ones were established after the 1967 war.
Norman Braman, the single biggest donor to Rubio’s political career, contributed $311,000 to Ariel, an Israeli West Bank settlement. In a 2011 interview, he described “the fundamental problem” with the peace process as, “How do you make peace with people who want to destroy you and are dedicated to your destruction?” Adelson, whose courtship by Rubio has been ardent to say the least, has been equally dismissive of Palestinians, famously describing them as “an invented people.”
Rubio, it would seem, is courting the most Israel-centered and Likudist wing of the Republican Party. His outright rejection of the Obama administration’s efforts to constrain Iran’s nuclear program and repudiation of some four decades of official U.S. opposition to Israeli settlements in occupied territories suggests that a Rubio presidency could not only result in a break with Washington’s closest European allies on Middle East policy. It would also offer encouragement to right-wing Israeli extremists to achieve their dream of a “Greater Israel.”