For Vivek Ramaswamy, appearing on the show of a dyed-in-the-wool antisemite was strike three.
Ramaswamy claims he didn’t know that YouTuber Albert Faleski called Jews “an ethnicity who uses their power in media to turn humanity against whites,” or that a Google search of his name reveals he was recently listed as “Antisemite of the Week” by a major Jewish watchdog. But it’s getting harder to defend Ramaswamy, who recently advocated cutting aid to Israel — but not to the authoritarian leaders of Egypt, Qatar, or Jordan. Prior to that, he said Florida governor Ron DeSantis passed a law fighting antisemitism “at his donors’ request,” as opposed to the stomach-churning episodes of neo-Nazis harassing Jews outside their synagogues across Florida.
Ramaswamy seems, at best, ambivalent to Jewish issues and sensitivities.
Yet Matt Brooks, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition, wrote a cowardly and humiliating open letter calling Vivek Ramaswamy “a strong and passionate supporter of Israel” and begging him to see the bright side of American military aid to Israel. Brooks absolutely abased himself in pleading with Ramaswamy to give a damn about the Jewish state.
How a highest-profile opponent of aid to Israel earned accolades from the RJC is a head-scratcher. But Matt Brooks’ court-Jew composition got even weirder: He personally invited Ramaswamy to speak at his organization’s annual conference in Las Vegas. That’s what the RJC has come to. You can openly call for an end to all military aid to Israel and earn a spot on the RJC speaking roster, along such notables as George Santos (believe it or not, the RJC hosted a fundraiser for the imposter) and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who refused for months to do any public event to support Israel through his Senate campaign and still garnered massive RJC support.
Ramaswamy has snowball-in-hell odds of making the Republican ticket, particularly as Trump’s VP: he called the President a “sore loser” and a “danger to democracy” after January 6, saying his actions that day were “downright abhorrent.” January 6 is Trump’s litmus test for loyalty, and at that, Vivek failed spectacularly.
That he now hails Trump as an American hero and “the greatest president of the 21st century” only betrays the imposter MAGA facelift that constitutes his copy-paste political platform.
Ramaswamy flip-flopped on affirmative action, too, accepting a $50,000 Soros family scholarship at Yale, even though it was earmarked for underprivileged children of immigrants. Ramaswamy already had made huge sums in banking and told the New York Times that “before getting his law degree, he was already worth around $15 million.” Ramaswamy now tweets that “affirmative action is a cancer on our national soul” and “a form of anti-white & anti-Asian racism.” He even reportedly scrubbed the Soros grant from his own Wikipedia page.
Vivek doesn’t seem to believe in gratitude: if he could take Soros’ cash and turn on him, he could as easily do the same for the RJC. So why is the RJC’s top executive groveling for his support?
A few years ago, AIPAC seemed a little bit lost. They wowed crowds with massive events, but the confabs didn’t amount to real influence. 20,000 people in a stadium-sized space listening to an American president give a keynote speech was certainly a good look. But looks can be deceiving. AIPAC, as its monumental failure with Obama’s Iran deal showed, had become largely ineffective. With Obama’s charge toward the terror-funding Iran deal in 2015, the facade fell. AIPAC spent tens of millions of dollars and got absolutely nowhere.
And why? Because they couldn’t throw a punch. They gave politicians suggestions instead of moral demands and were careless about accountability. Essentially, they were telling politicians they were supporting, “Look, we want you to vote against the deal, but if you don’t, we’ll love you anyway.”
My friend and former Oxford student president of my L’Chaim Society, Cory Booker, was a classic example. I warned AIPAC executive and lay leadership about Cory, to whom I had introduced them and for whom they raised considerable sums. Their approach with Cory would backfire. Why tell him, essentially, “No matter what you do, we’re going to raise money for you and be close to you,” – which they subsequently did. How could that not fail and they would lose Cory on the Iran vote, which we did. Worse, because of that pathetic attitude that even when you vote to give Iran billions you’re still considered pro-Israel, we ended up losing Cory to the pro-Israel community in general.
To AIPAC’s immense credit, my understanding is that the Cory Booker saga and my premonitions about it provoked a lengthy discussion among the national trustees of AIPAC. By the end of it, they agreed that AIPAC needed not only carrots but also a big stick.
They set up a SuperPAC to actively support pro-Israel candidates and help defeat those known to be hostile. It’s an approach AIPAC inaugurated only in 2022, but it signifies a change in course and it’s been immensely successful. AIPAC doesn’t do many large public events anymore, and they haven’t done one of their giant 20,000-person conferences in Washington in nearly four years. And yet they’re much more effective — and have become a powerful force to be reckoned with in Washington. They’ve taken the posture that there’s nothing to be ashamed of about being Jewish or pro-Israel. The teachers’ and truckers’ unions can fund and promote candidates who support their issues and stop candidates who don’t. The Jewish community is no different.
The Republican Jewish Coalition surged after AIPAC’s failure to stop the Iran deal in Congress. For years, the RJC sold itself on the point of AIPAC being ineffective. They knew people were disgruntled with AIPAC and its wishy-washy inability to confront even those like Cory Booker, whom they generously supported for years. The old and bloated AIPAC seemed ready to be outdone by the leaner, meaner Republican Jewish Coalition. Indeed, the RJC enjoyed a handful of banner years with political candidates like Donald Trump, who would later become the most policy-wise pro-Israel president ever.
Now, RJC has been utterly eclipsed by AIPAC when it comes to muscular support for Israel. And it’s time that the RJC found new leadership and replace Matt Brooks.
His record has been increasingly chicken-livered and weak.
Matt Brooks bragged about spending more than $3 million — including $1.85 million on TV ads alone — on Dr. Mehmet Oz, who wouldn’t do even one pro-Israel public event until well into the general election campaign. He actively endorsed a Palestinian state and said the State of Israel was a result not of the millennia-old Jewish indigenous rights to the Holy Land but because of the Holocaust, and still the RJC spent more on Dr. Oz than on any other Senate candidate in its history.
RJC even spent heavily on a TV attack ad trying to depict John Fetterman as anti-Black, which wasn’t true and had nothing to do with Israel. But by aiding and abetting Oz’s fraudulence, the RJC only helped him lose.
After Oz’s loss alone, Brooks should have gone.
RJC also supported George Santos — apparently without vetting the man who turned out to be not Jewish — and a total fraud likely to end up with a criminal indictment. Santos had no Jewish connections whatsoever, but the RJC only needed to hear from him that he descended from Holocaust refugees to swallow it whole. Apparently, the RJC under Matt Brooks lacked the staff and professionalism to simply Google a guy they were funding. Even after admitting that Santos “deceived” them and “misrepresented his heritage,” the RJC stopped short of calling him unfit to serve in Congress or demanding his ouster.
The RJC also continues to work with Larry Weitzner and Jamestown Associates, who made antisemitic ads depicting a small cabal of Jews controlling the world economy. The Washington Post called out Weitzner for the ad, the last run by Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, saying, “Antisemitism is no longer an undertone of Trump’s campaign. It’s the melody.” Yet the RJC has used Weitzner to make their most important ads for more than a decade. More importantly, Weitzner was instrumental in pulling Dr. Oz away from Israel, telling me that Pennsylvania voters didn’t care about the issue, and denying the Armenian genocide. Larry’s brand of political spin and chameleon candidates doesn’t work on voters anymore — but Brooks won’t break the relationship. Even Trump has fired Weitzner, but not Matt Brooks.
We’ll soon learn a lot more about the bizarre relationship between Weitzner and Brooks, given that Weitzner is suing me to silence me about his catastrophic advice to Dr. Oz on Israel and humanitarian policy, and how that advice utterly eviscerated Oz at the polls. I will never be silenced. I refused to be bullied or capitulate, and as we ar,e now entering the discovery phase of the lawsuit, Brooks’ communications with Weitzner will be laid bare and we’ll finally understand what strange hold Weitzner has over Brooks and the RJC.
This brings us back to the newest political shape-shifter, Vivek Ramaswamy.
We have this pathetic and deferential letter that Matt Brooks wrote to Ramaswamy begging him to support Israel and inviting him to address their annual conference. He could have sent a message of conviction, telling Ramaswamy bluntly that supporting Israel — especially through military support against its genocidal enemies like Hamas and Iran — is what we’re about, and if you want to support Israel, then we’ll connect you with others who do, too. If you don’t, that’s fine, but you are not invited — and you won’t be, until you can understand why it’s not policy objective number one to deprive Israel of the military assistance given in exchange for the Sinai and which it uses to defend itself against genocidal enemies like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.
Instead, we got this humiliating letter begging and imploring Ramaswamy to like Israel.
The RJC has become weak. It is no longer the Republican JEWISH Coalition. It is the REPUBLICAN Jewish Coalition. And unlike AIPAC, it can’t even pull off any conference beyond some 1,000 people, even though the numbers of Jewish Republicans has swelled enormously over the last years.
Part of the reason is that the RJC has consistently refused to simply respect Judaism. They do their conferences on the Sabbath with microphones, which AIPAC has never done and would never do. Until people objected a few years ago, the RJC didn’t even offer fresh kosher food. I remember the years when we had to pull the plastic off airline meals attending what was passed off as a top Jewish function. AIPAC only starts its conference on Saturday night because even AIPAC, which is a secular organization, will not disrespect the Sabbath. The IAC is similar, hosting massive Shabbat dinners and trying to become more traditional. Considering that so many Jewish Republicans are Orthodox, it’s no surprise that the RJC can’t fill a conference. Republican Jews are increasingly traditional, conservative, and observant. They believe deeply in their religious lifestyles and beliefs.
The RJC will not achieve effective muscularity under the leadership of Matt Brooks. If he can’t even boldly confront Ramaswamy’s pledge to defund Israel, then he has no place running an organization whose raison d’etre is support for Jewish causes and the Jewish state.
It’s time for courageous new RJC leadership that puts Israel and Jewish interests first.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood is the author of 33 books, including most recently “Kosher Hate” and “Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocide Memory Hell.” Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.