Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s persistent claims that he is not meddling in the upcoming U.S. elections, a TV commercial that will air on select Florida networks on Thursday stars the Israeli leader. Released by Politico one day ahead of its scheduled broadcast, the ad features a bit from the prime minister’s recent speech, in which he criticizes the U.S. government for failing to establish sufficient “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program.
The ad is sponsored by an American nonprofit 501 c (4) called Secure America Now, an organization founded after the 9/11 attacks committed to impacting U.S. national security. A quick look at their website shows they are not big fans of President Obama or “Islam.” A story featured prominently on their website reports a poll showing that 70 percent of Americans in Ohio and Florida “believe Iran would arm terrorists with nuclear weapons to attack us.”
Both Ohio and Florida are swing states that presidential candidates Romney and Obama are vying for. It is no coincidence that the ad starring Netanyahu will be running in Florida specifically – since it is not only a battleground state but one with the third largest Jewish population in the U.S. (behind New York and New Jersey) with over 630,000 Jews, nearly 5% of the Sunshine State.
The Republican Jewish Coalition has also targeted Florida: It recently put up billboards in Florida Jewish communities that read: “Obama Oy Vey, Had Enough?” According to JTA, the RJC is also responsible for launching a $5 million TV ad campaign aimed at Jewish voters in swing states like Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
It is not clear whether Netanyahu was aware he would star in the ad, although he did insist earlier this week on CNN that his criticism of American policy on Iran is not an electoral but a security issue for both Israel and the U.S.:
This is not an electoral issue. It is not based on any electoral consideration. I think that there’s a common interest of all Americans of all political persuasions to stop Iran. This is a regime that is giving vent to the worst impulses that you see right now in the Middle East.
Considering the recent leak of a video in which Republican candidate Mitt Romney managed to insult both Palestinians, half of America and embarrass himself regarding regional geography (he thinks Syria borders the West Bank), this ad appears to be a concerted effort by pro-Romney groups to focus on the states the Republican may still have a chance in – and specifically where he can try and woo Jewish voters on Israel.