INTERVIEW: Norm Coleman on Role as New RJC Chairman

Former Senator Norman Coleman, who was appointed as the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Chairman last week, spoke to Jewish Insider about his new role and his group’s relationship with the Trump Administration.

“The sad reality is that support for Israel which has always been a strongly bipartisan issue, that dynamic is changing,” Coleman explained. “A recent poll showed that a very significant portion of the Democratic Party’s base no longer supports Israel, and that is disheartening. But it’s a time of opportunity for Jews who care about the U.S.-Israel relationship to vote Republican. One of my goals is to expand the reach and the scope of the RJC. I would hope that there are disenfranchised Democrats who look at what Obama did on his way out of office, his last slap in the face of Israel by not vetoing the UNSC resolution, I would think that these folks would find a home in the Republican Jewish Coalition. There’s also a great opportunity in 2018 with 10 Democratic Senators running in states that Trump won to actually increase the Republican majority in the Senate and maintain a majority in the House. I just think that this is an exciting time for the RJC and a moment of opportunity.”

On Trump response to the rise in anti-Semitism: “The fact is that anti-Semitism has been rising in this country a long time – the BDS movement, anti-Semitism on college campuses, equating Zionism with racism. That has been a plague that has impacted us for a long time. All of a sudden, the media is discovering it now with the Trump presidency. I find that rather ironic… I do think that the media is continuously looking for ways to try to put the Administration at odds with the Jewish community. They are looking to create a conflict there.”

Q: Is the RJC prepared to call out Trump again in the future like it did with regards to the Holocaust statement?

Coleman: “I think it’s very reasonable for the RJC to note that from a Jewish perspective it was an oversight not to mention Jews in the Holocaust statement. We do that as a friend of the Administration. There’s nothing unusual about that. That fact is that the Jewish presence in the White House is more than a minyan. We have no doubt that that on the key issues, on the issue of Israel, that this is a president who is deeply and firmly committed to supporting the Jewish state.”

On the election of Tom Perez as DNC Chair: “It’s not whether it’s Keith Ellison or Tom Perez. It’s whether you have a party that its president doesn’t veto a UN resolution against Israel. You have got a party that supported an Iran deal which is fueling billions of dollars into Iranian support of terrorism. Certainly, an Ellison victory would’ve been a stronger reflection of where the Democratic Party is and where it is moving. But I don’t think that the Perez victory is one that provides any assurances. The Democratic Party has to look in the mirror and figure out what they are going to do to fix the problem that they have with the base growing increasingly anti-Israel.”

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