Israel partisan Ron Lauder gave $1.1 million to group that made anti-Muslim ads. Elliott Broidy, the Republican Jewish megadonor who worked to influence President Trump’s Middle East policies also worked with the group.
By Aiden Pink, The Forward
The president of the World Jewish Congress was one of the biggest backers of a secretive group that spent millions of dollars on targeted campaign ads predicting a Muslim takeover of the United States.
Ronald Lauder gave $1.1 million to the group Secure America Now, the watchdog group Open Secrets revealed Thursday, citing IRS forms it had acquired. Secure America Now is not required to disclose its donors.
The organization’s biggest individual backer, at $2 million, was Robert Mercer, the hedge fund investor whose family has bankrolled Breitbart News and the data company Cambridge Analytica, which has been accused of improperly using Facebook data to sway prospective voters.
Secure America Now’s ads featured mock promotional travel ads portraying countries that had been taken over by the Islamic State. In one ad, the Statue of Liberty wears a burka and the Hollywood sign is changed to “Allahu Akbar.”
Secure America Now reported more than $1 million in political spending to the Federal Election Commission in 2016. The group reportedly used targeted advertising on Facebook and Google to reach potential voters in swing states and districts.
“STOP SUPPORT OF TERRORISM. VOTE AGAINST CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO,” one ad said at its conclusion, referring to a Democratic senate candidate in Nevada.
Elliott Broidy, the Republican Jewish megadonor whose efforts to influence President Trump’s Middle East policies, referred to Secure America Now as “one of the groups I am working with” in an email to an advisor to the United Arab Emirates whose activities are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Lauder is a longtime Israel partisan and Likkud supporter. He, recently wrote: “As president of the World Jewish Congress, I believe that Israel is central to every Jew’s identity, and I feel it is my second home.” Other pro-Israel groups and individuals have previously promoted Islamophobia.
In his speech at an anti-BDS conference in Israel in 2016, Lauder said: “BDS tries to present itself as some sort of a democratic movement concerned with human rights – that’s a lie. It’s an international campaign to incite hostility against Israel and the Jewish people.”
Lauder said: “The World Jewish Congress is advancing legislation to make economic boycotts illegal. Many countries have already made boycotts illegal, and there’s legislation in the US Congress as well. So on the legal front we are winning.”
Israel’s Ynet News reported:
“The World Jewish Congress is in the process of establishing a network of organizations at key colleges and universities around the world ‘to help Jewish students stand up to anti-Israel groups and their lies. Skilled young professionals will train Jewish students to be proud of their heritage and of Israel.’
“He also called on alumni and donors who care about Israel need to make their voices heard.
“Additionally, Lauder argued that in order counter the calls for boycott, a coordinated campaign was needed to encourage people to buy Israeli goods. This can be done, among other things, by using the hashtag #buyIsraeli on social media.
Other pro-Israel groups and individuals have also worked to promote Islamophobia.