Thursday, April 09, 2020

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) will hold its annual leadership conference in Las Vegas this weekend, from March 13-15. The RJC is a political grassroots organization with a growing presence around the country. It provides a unique bridge between the Jewish community and Republican decision makers. The RJC is committed to building a strong, effective and respected Jewish Republican voice in Washington and across the country.

The organization, founded in 1985, hosts hundreds of local events, provides activism and advocacy opportunities for its members and engages with the larger Jewish community. It also offers a young leadership program that provides additional opportunities for networking and activism, according to its website.

The annual conference attracts a host of major Republican political leaders, who address relevant issues most important to its members. According to the RJC Statement of Basic Principles, the organization’s focus is on issues of national security, small government and economic policy. Among the policies it vigorously supports are pro-Israel foreign policy and freedom from oil dependence.

Sam Markstein has been the organization’s national political director since August. “The annual leadership meeting attracts people who support the RJC from around the country, from coast to coast, north to south. Speakers discuss what they are working on and reaffirm their support for the RJC and this administration.”

Markstein said the expectation is that “this will be the most successful leadership meeting in RJC history,” in part because it is an election year, but also because “we have an administration that’s the most pro-Israel and pro-Jewish community in history, so it is easy for us to attract supporters.”

RJC’s supporters are made up of “a large swath of the community: Orthodox, Conservative and Reform” and others, Markstein said.

Among those expected to speak at the conference this year are President Donald Trump; former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley; Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer; U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman; Elan Carr, U.S. special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism; Danny Danon, Israel’s permanent representative to the UN; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; various senators and state governors; and many other party leaders from across the country.

“The real point,” according to Markstein, “is why we are so excited to have President Trump come and address our membership for the second time [in a year]. Just to name a few: moving the embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights, getting us out of that disastrous Iran nuclear deal, taking action to end BDS, action to end anti-Semitism on college campuses, recognizing that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, taking out Soleimani. There are so many things to be excited about and proud of in terms of President Trump and the Jewish community.” The RJC strongly endorsed the Deal of the Century, President Trump’s Middle East peace plan.

Markstein added, “The current Democratic party isn’t the party of [our] parents anymore. It is sad that [the Democrats] are in that position because Israel should be a bipartisan issue… Younger Jews are leaning more Republican these days; the Jewish community as a whole is becoming more Orthodox and the Orthodox community leans Republican.”

“The GOP has always stood with Israel,” he concluded. “The RJC will do whatever we can to be supportive of the president.”

Next year’s leadership conference is already planned for April 16-18, 2021. For more information about the RJC or its annual conference, visit www.rjchq.org  or call 202-638-6688.

By Jill Kirsch