Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Walker, Vukmir Court the Israel Lobby

A great way to get donations from billionaires like Sheldon Adelson.

By - Nov 16th, 2017 01:18 pm
Gov. Scott Walker and State Sen. Leah Vukmir.

Gov. Scott Walker and State Sen. Leah Vukmir.

On October 27, Gov. Scott Walker issued Executive Order 261, “prohibiting state agencies from contracting with any business entity that discriminates against Israel,” as his announcement put it.

In fact, the actual language of the executive order targeted a particular form of alleged discrimination, an economic boycott against Israel, something advocated by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This was started in 2005 by Palestinian leaders to pressure Israel to withdraw from lands it occupied in 1967, dismantle its settlements in the West Bank and allow Palestinians in exile to return to the lands they formerly occupied.

The boycott has been roundly condemned by Israel and many American Jewish groups and has had a small impact in the U.S. It has been embraced on some college campuses and by the Presbyterian Church, which voted in 2013 to divest from three companies that supply Israel with military and communications equipment, and two years later by the United Church of Christ.

As for businesses joining the boycott, few have; two that did are the Danske Bank in Denmark and Crepes and Waffles, a Columbian restaurant chain. I guess this means state agencies in Wisconsin will have to go elsewhere for their crepes and waffles.

Which is to say this executive order is meaningless, not to mention an anything-but-conservative proposal. Conservatives want an open market based on competition, and taxpayers of this state would surely want the state to contract with the companies that offer the lowest price for the government, not those determined to be politically correct by Scott Walker. His executive order sets a precedent for blacklisting companies that refuse on moral grounds to do business with say, a suspected Mafia front organization, or a brutal dictatorship like Turkey. That’s a matter for the stockholders of those companies to approve or disapprove, not the Walker administration.

In reality, the executive order has nothing to do with public policy, and is just about courting favor with American Jewish groups. And sure enough, they responded as he hoped: “We thank Governor Walker and all the state legislators who have shown leadership on this issue,” said Michael Blumenfeld, director of the Wisconsin Jewish Conference, which represents the state Jewish community. The reference to legislators was because of Senate Bill 450 and Assembly Bill 553, which would prohibit local governments from adopting rules to boycott doing business with Israel, as the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (WDC) has reported.

Ironically, also joining in the praise for Walker was longtime Democratic activist Hannah Rosenthal, President and CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, who declared in the same press release that “BDS initiatives sever economic ties between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, and therefore are counter-productive to developing a long-term lasting peaceful solution.”

But the real goal for Walker is to win the approval of billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and any other billionaires, Jewish or Christian, with hawkish pro-Israel views. Adelson has “been involved in recent years in efforts against BDS,” the WDC reports. “He and his wife, Miriam, directly contributed $270,000 to Walker’s 2012 recall and 2014 reelection campaigns. In addition, Adelson contributed another $650,000 in 2014 to the state Republican Party, which turned around days later and contributed $600,000 to Walker’s campaign.”

Adelson was a key donor targeted by Walker’s advisors, when his campaign was colluding with supposedly independent advocacy groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth, and which was being investigated by a John Doe probe later shut down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Walker’s campaign consultant Kate Doner noted in an email that “Wisconsin Club for Growth can accept corporate and personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure,” and urged Walker to “Get on a plane to Vegas and sit down with Sheldon Adelson.”

That’s exactly what Walker did when he was running for president in 2014, and you can bet he will again should he run again for president.

Also in need of the backing of billionaires is Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who is battling Kevin Nicholson in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Nicholson has the support of billionaire Richard Uihlein and other fat cats while Vukmir has the backing of billionaire Diane Hendricks, but so far seems to be trailing in the money battle. But if she could land the support of Adelson, what a coup that would be.

Back in June 2016, Vukmir wrote a remarkable column for the American Legislative Exchange Council, in which she called the BDS movement “an aggressive disinformation campaign dedicated to one goal: to destroy the Jewish state. Nowhere in the column does she explain the goals of the BDS movement; instead she leaves readers with the impression this is just a virulent example of anti-semitism.

Vukmir makes the incredible claim that because of the low-profile BDS movement, “young American Jews now increasingly feel compelled to hide their backgrounds and identities. How serious is this problem? To put it in perspective, only about 1.5 percent of Americans are Jewish – yet according to the FBI, a staggering 60 percent of all hate crimes against religious minorities in this country are against Jews.”

Well, yes, there has been a rise in hate crimes and anti-semitism in the U.S., and we have a president allied with white supremacist groups who has failed to condemn pro-Nazi groups in this country. But Vukmir has offered no criticism of these groups or of President Donald Trump’s embrace of the so-called Alt Right.

Beyond the loony politics behind the positions of Walker and Vukmir, beyond their efforts to gain the support of billionaires, is what has happened to our political parties as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United opening the door to unlimited campaign donations by the super wealthy, whose donation can distort the political philosophies of candidates.

Once the Republican Party could be counted to support policies backed by the business community, but not any more. Thus, Gov. Walker came out against improving and expanding I-94, probably the number one item on the wish list of business leaders, and has slashed historic preservation tax credits favored by many real estate developers.

Instead, Walker is concerned with making sure state agencies aren’t doing any business with the Crepes and Waffles chain.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here. 

Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

15 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Walker, Vukmir Court the Israel Lobby”

  1. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Wait, you’re telling me that Walker and Vukmir “support Israel” solely to get a piece of Shelly Adelson’s money? I am shocked, SHOCKED! Next you’ll tell me that these alleged Christians don’t follow the teachings of Christ, and they just use their “faith” to trick rubes into,voting for them.

    These two pieces of amoral ALEC slime couldn’t represent Tosa these days, which is why they moved on to “bigger things” and kissing up to,oligarchs like Adelson. They both are well past their sell-by dates, and need to be kicked to the curb

  2. Timothy J Haering says:

    Bruce, I’m not sure the predictable pander was worth an entire column when sexual harassment is the hot topic. Woulda been more entertaining to compare Norquist v Figueroa to Moore and Franken or to Becker and JOhnson in Racine. What about the time TGT said to Mark BUgher, “Find me some women.” He was referring to potential judicial appointments, though. Have a great weekend.

  3. Bill Kurtz says:

    Guess Leah figures two billionaires (Adelson and Hendricks) are better than one (Uihlein).

  4. John Casper says:

    Timothy, if you were a conservative, you’d notice Walker’s and Vukmir’s “pander” to opponents of the First Amendment.

    Which sentences in the “entire column” did you want to delete? Bruce did an amazing job of describing those of us who support Israel’s right to exist, but not Zionism. Many of us believe Zionists are trending in the occupied territories ever close to what the Nazis did in the Warsaw ghetto. and

    How do you compare Moore to anyone in Wisconsin except former D.A. Ken Kratz, a Republican appointed by Gov. Thompson?

    Sorry you missed Ms. Figueroa finding relief in the courts.

    Senator Franken’s victim accepted his apology. Do you have a link to Moore apologizing to his victims?

    “Have a great weekend.”

  5. Jason troll says:

    No mention of the Hungarian Jew George Soros or Harvey Weinstein, Jews that have great influence over the Democratic party. Each side has its power brokers. One difference is the democrats allow their power brokers to rape and threaten women so long as they support Roe v Wade.

  6. John Casper says:

    Jason, glad you don’t want government forcing birth, but why do you support rapists?

    Please stop.

    It’s wrong.

    Are you a member of the Democratic party? Are you registered as a Democrat?

    OT, what’s the difference between a “Hungarian Jew” and other “Jews?”

    Have you heard of Sheldon Anderson? His Dad was from Ukraine. His Mom was from Lithuania? Are those close to Hungary?

    You seem to know a lot about foreigners. Are you a citizen only of the United States, or do you have dual citizenship with another country?

    How long have you supported BDS?

    Do 19 of 21 members of the Arab League still refuse to accept the existence of the State of Israel?

    Do you accept the existence of the State of Israel?

  7. Bruce Murphy says:

    Jason, it would certainly make a very interesting article if Democrats in the state had passed some public policy with the apparent goal of getting campaign support from Soros or Weinstein. Is there some evidence of that?

  8. Jason troll says:

    Bruce, if your pointing out that the Wisconsin Democrats have been at the kiddie table since 2010 as the adults make decisions, your right.

  9. John Casper says:

    Jason, you’re blaming the GOP for the state of the state since 2010?

    Can’t argue that.

    “For third straight year, Wisconsin ranks last in business startup activity”

  10. Jason troll says:

    Well it is good to know that only Democrats can collect money from Jews? Only Tammy Baldwin can collect money from gays, right? Have you Democrats ever thought maybe Walker would never met Adelson if you did not attempt to recall him in 2011. This put Walker on the map. Kudos, to Bruce as well for covering the county pension scandal which put a younger Walker into the spotlight.

  11. John Casper says:

    Jason, yesterday I asked if you were a member of the Democratic party or registered as a Democrat.

    In your response this morning you ignored those and you ignored Bruce’s question. Do you think you’re too good to answer Bruce’s question?

    Later today you’re claiming you’re not a Democrat. If you’re not, how do you know so much about them?

    Yesterday you made claims about “Hungarian Jews” and “Jews.” I asked about them. You didn’t bring up “Jews” in your comment this morning. Since you’ve now returned to religion, please respond.

    For your convenience, I’ll number them.

    1. What’s the difference between a “Hungarian Jew” and other “Jews?”

    2. Are you a citizen only of the United States, or do you have dual citizenship with another country?

    3. How long have you supported BDS?

    4. Do 19 of 21 members of the Arab League still refuse to accept the existence of the State of Israel?

    5. Do you accept the existence of the State of Israel?

    I’ll add some.

    6. Do you support the Charlottesville, VA white supremacists who chanted, “Jews will not replace us?”

    7. Do you deny that Nazi Germany killed at least six-million Jews?

    8. What religion are you?

  12. Jason Troll says:

    John Casper, the Nazi are poison and Trump used poor wording. I believe he was attempting to point out that the other side that protested the Nazi’s were “hate mongers” as well. Democrats, and the American press seem to embrace Antifa. Antifa, ( Charlottesville, Los Angeles, Boston)showed up with masks and hoodies on they carry two by fours with nails in them and throw bottles of urine at police. Yet, we always come back to the Nazi stooges. Republicans must always apologize for the Nazis. Yet, the leader of those Nazis in Charlottesville, Jason Kessler was an Obama supporter as late as 2010. Last, I looked Trumps daughter is married to a Jew and has complete faith in him. I personally, have a complete respect of the history of Judaism. How they sided with the Romans, Hitler, or Lenin (Russia) and still survived.

  13. John Casper says:

    Jason, you have “complete respect for” George Soros and Harvey Weinstein?

    Why won’t you respond to Bruce’s question?

    If you’re going to ignore Bruce’s question, why should he let you comment here?

    9. Are the “Antifa” Nazis?

    10. How do you know so much about the “Antifa?”

    11. How do you know so much about Jason Kessler, “the leader of those Nazis in Charlottesville?”

    12. Are you now or have you ever been an “Obama supporter?”

  14. Jason troll says:

    Bruce is right. There is no evidence. The Democrats have no influence on legislation in the last seven years.

  15. John Casper says:

    Jason, thanks for confirming your earlier claims were baseless.

    “No mention of the Hungarian Jew George Soros or Harvey Weinstein, Jews that have great influence over the Democratic party. Each side has its power brokers. One difference is the democrats allow their power brokers to rape and threaten women so long as they support Roe v Wade.”

    Do you want to apologize for clogging this thread with anti-semitism and statements you admit were false?

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us