Rick Perry garners support among Ultra-Orthodox Jews
The anti science crowds in Abrahamic religion tend to be either ultra fundamental or ultra orthodox.
The gallery of Jewish leaders surrounding Perry at the event provided a glimpse into his support within the community. Standing just next to Perry was Joseph Frager, a New York physician and the chairman of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, a group that buys lands and homes in mostly Palestinian East Jerusalem, evicts the Arabs residents and moves Jews into these spaces. “He has strong views on Israel that are in line with my views, to a great extent,” Frager said. He praised the Texas candidate for being a “straight shooter” and said that while he did not discuss the issue of Ateret Cohanim with the governor directly, “my guess is that he will understand and support the purchase of homes in the Old City of Jerusalem.”
Frager, organizer of an annual Central Park concert for Israel, laid out his vision for the State of Israel at this year’s event, saying: “Not one inch of the land should be given to anyone. It’s our land.”
Frager, with Dr. Paul Brody, another Jewish backer of Perry, had planned to hold a Jewish fundraiser for the candidate in New York, but he postponed the event for logistical reasons. The two were previously active supporters of Mike Huckabee but switched to Perry after the former Arkansas governor dropped out of the Republican race. For Jewish voters, Perry and Huckabee represent a similar ideology, one that, among other things, stresses support for Israel’s right to continue to expand its West Bank settlements. This is coupled with a conservative set of values that includes opposition to abortion rights, rejection of same-sex marriage and questioning of the Theory of Evolution.
“Religious Jews don’t believe in evolution, so I have no problem with a religious Christian who doesn’t believe in it,” said Frager, a gastroenterologist who received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Perry’s strong convictions regarding Israel are in part a product of his visits to the country, two of which were organized and funded by Rabbi Irwin Katsof, a Jewish activist and businessman from New York and a former fundraiser for Aish HaTorah, a network of yeshivas in Israel and the Diaspora that strongly opposes territorial compromise with the Palestinians on the West Bank. During Perry’s November 2009 visit, the governor was presented by Katsof with the Defender of Jerusalem Award, a private foundation award given to foreign dignitaries deemed as supportive of Israel.
Katsof’s activism on Israel combines his business and his philanthropic activity. As an investor and funder he has forged business alliances between Israeli companies and firms in the United States and in Eastern Europe. Katsof is also the director of America’s Voices in Israel, a program that brings radio pundits and entertainers to broadcast from Israel, and the founder of Honest Reporting, a watchdog organization aimed at fighting anti-Israel media bias. Katsof, who lives in the Hasidic enclave of Monsey, N.Y., has brought many Republican politicians to Israel throughout the years and assisted them in forging ties with Israeli officials and local business leaders.
While there are no specific polling numbers regarding Perry’s support among potential Jewish voters, a recent survey, published September 26 by the American Jewish Committee, indicates that the Texas governor might not be the most attractive candidate for Jewish voters. Paired against President Obama, Perry, according to the AJC poll, would win only 25% of the Jewish vote, less than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who could gain 32%. Michele Bachmann, the poll suggests, would win only 19%.