Republicans in Israel Hail Romney Visit

Mordechei Twersky Reports: It is 7 days and counting to Mitt Romney’s anticipated visit to Israel, and the brain trust of Republicans Abroad-Israel – a politically savvy and supremely confident trio of activists – are maintaining an uncharacteristically modest profile.

“We’re just a small portion of this,” says Kory Bardash, RAI-Israel co-chair, discussing the much-talked-about $50,000-a-head post-Tisha B’av Romney fundraiser which the group has been involved in planning for weeks. “This visit is not about what it will do for our organization.”

Bardash; his co-chair, Marc Zell; and counsel Abraham Katsman acknowledge that the timing of the governor’s visit on the Jewish fast day has made scheduling “tight.” But they say the timing couldn’t be more symbolic.

“I think it dovetails perfectly with the fact that Israelis live under an existential threat,” says Bardash, a native of Parsippany, New Jersey, who works as a financial analyst.

“If there’s any day that represents that existential reality, it’s Tisha B’av,” adds Katsman, an attorney who hails from Seattle, Washington.

The triumvirate told Haaretz in Jerusalem this week that plans for the event were still being finalized and that they were not privy to the final decisions of the Romney campaign. They said the event will be held at an as-of-yet-undisclosed Jerusalem location approximately 90 minutes after the conclusion of the fast of Tisha B’av on July 29. Romney – who is expected to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s residence during the breaking of the nearly 24-hour fast – is expected to mingle for up to an hour with about 20-30 donors and may deliver remarks. Bardash notes that the former Massachusetts governor will also be holding high-level meetings with several key Israeli officials. The governor’s precise itinerary for the visit may be released as early as this weekend, according to Andrea Saul, the Romney campaign’s press secretary.

“This is unchartered territory for us,” says Marc Zell, a 59-year-old international lawyer and RAI-Israel co-chair from Washington, D.C., who traces his involvement as a Republican in Israel back to 1991. “We have never done a fundraiser before for a political candidate, let alone for a presidential candidate. This is truly historic.”

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