W. Orange man recruits pro-Israel Republicans

W. Orange man recruits pro-Israel Republicans

Mark Meyerowitz says his organization is for both Jews and gentiles

Mark Meyerowitz is organizing Republican Friends of Israel, “to make sure Israel continues to have good standing within the Republican Party.”
Mark Meyerowitz is organizing Republican Friends of Israel, “to make sure Israel continues to have good standing within the Republican Party.”

A West Orange investment adviser and money manager is launching a new political organization that combines his support of Israel with his commitment to the Republican Party.

Mark Meyerowitz describes his fledgling organization, Republican Friends of Israel, as “a political, nonsectarian organization dedicated to electing Republican candidates on the federal, state, and local levels who share RFI’s vision to maintain the unshakable bond between the United States and Israel.”

At a time when there is heavy emphasis on bipartisan support for Israel among political officeholders, Meyerowitz said he wants “to make sure Israel continues to have good standing within the Republican Party.”

RFI “is both a pro-Israel and a partisan Republican organization,” he said.

As yet, RFI has a website but no formal members, but Meyerowitz and a fellow West Orange resident, Bob Ryan, are working to recruit attendees to a first meeting in the coming weeks. “I want to get together people who are not just talkers but doers,” he said.

Meyerowitz is chair of the Republican Party in his hometown. “Wherever I go I find Republican support for Israel to be very strong,” he said in a Jan. 24 telephone interview. “This is the kind of thing we need to press.”

But he insisted his group is not going to compete with the Republican Jewish Coalition, a national organization with similar aims and which recently launched a NJ chapter encompassing Middlesex, Monmouth, Mercer, Ocean, and parts of Somerset and southern Union counties.

“I want to get more grassroots than what they do,” he explained. “I am nonsectarian. My organization is not just for Jews. We will be reaching out to church organizations. Most of them are very strong for Israel.”

‘Baby steps’

RFI was conceived last summer, when Meyerowitz began campaigning for Roland Straten, a Montclair Republican who was challenging Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Dist. 8).

“A lot of Republican candidates have a sense that Israel is important but can’t talk about the topic,” he said. “I want to show them that Israel can help them win their election.”

Straten had Meyerowitz speak to the media on his behalf when the candidate labeled Pascrell “anti-Israel and pro-Arab” — a charge denied by Pascrell and a number of his Jewish supporters, including some Republicans.

Although Meyerowitz concedes there are Democrats like Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Dist. 9), who he said, “is very supportive of Israel; on everything else I can’t stand what he does. But if he is running against a Republican version of Bill Pascrell, I am not going to support the Republican.”

At this point, Meyerowitz is organizing RFI out of his home. “We are taking baby steps,” he said, by hiring a New York publicist, building a website (www.republicanfriendsofisrael.org), and joining Facebook and Twitter. “We are moving into the 21st century.”

Meyerowitz said membership would be open to people who may differ on such issues as Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the settlements, and the power struggles between Orthodox and secular Israelis.

“Our objective is not to tell the Israelis what to do if we ever grow big enough to do that,” he said. “But we are going to take a no-nonsense approach to negotiations in the Middle East.”

Meyerowitz ran unsuccessfully for office in 2007 as a GOP candidate for the State Assembly in a heavily Democratic area.

“It would probably be easier for me to win a statewide office than to win in the 27th District,” said. His ideal job would be in Congress, “but for me that is a long way off,” he conceded.

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