EILAT, Israel – The V15 group working to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in the upcoming election has confirmed to WND it is primarily financed by an American billionaire and a Mexican entrepreneur who is a U.S. resident.
V15, short for Victory 2015, attracted U.S. media attention after it hired 270 Strategies, a consulting firm whose senior leadership is comprised mostly of former top staffers for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Uri Wollman, V15’s spokesman, told WND his organization’s ballooning infrastructure is funded primarily by three private philanthropists:
- S. Daniel Abraham, the billionaire founder of the Slim Fast food line. Abraham is a major donor to the Democratic Party and the Clinton Foundation.
- Daniel Lubetzky, a social entrepreneur whose OneVoice Movement is partnered with V15.
- Alon Kastiel, a Tel Aviv-based businessman and owner of multiple local venues, including bars, clubs and hotels.
The admission confirms charges by Netanyahu’s Likud Party, which earlier called on Israel’s Central Elections Committee to outlaw V15’s activities to “ensure the integrity of the election.”
The Likud Party accused V15 of violating campaign finance law by accepting foreign contributions, with Likud lawyer David Shimron claiming Abraham and Lubetzky were behind the group’s funding.
Lubetzky is the CEO and Founder of KIND Healthy Snacks and the KIND Movement. He is also founder of PeaceWorks Inc. and the PeaceWorks Foundation’s OneVoice Movement.
Lubetzky was born in Mexico City, the son of a Holocaust survivor and a Mexican Jew. As a teenager, he moved with his family to the U.S., where he attended college and earned a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1993.
Lubetzky’s involvement in financing V15 is unsurprising since his OneVoice movement is openly partnered with V15, while V15 is utilizing OneVoice’s Tel Aviv office space as its headquarters, as WND reported.
Abraham’s financing of V15 was until now unconfirmed. The Palm Beach billionaire is a known contributor to leftist political parties in Israel. He is also a backer of the so-called Two State solution through the Washington-based Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, which he co-founded.
During a press conference Sunday, the Likud Party officially accused V15 and other related nonprofits of being supported “through millions of dollars funneled from Europe, the U.S. and the New Israel Fund and international factors interested in bringing down Prime Minister Netanyahu” who think “that all means are appropriate.”
Reacting to the developments, Wollman, V15’s spokesman, told WND his organization will not stop its campaign to ensure a center-left coalition forms the next government in Israel.
Wollman accused Netanyahu and the Likud of “fabricating” a relationship between V15 and the Obama administration.
“We have no relation to any U.S. political party, the White House or the State Department,” Wollman told WND.
State Department ties
WND visited V15’s Tel Aviv headquarters and interviewed the group’s founder, Nimrod Dweck, who explained the ultimate goal of his campaign was to ensure “center and left parties will form the next coalition.”
V15’s headquarters is actually the offices of Lubetzky’s “OneVoice.”
OneVoice bills itself as an “international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians.” It has a clearly leftist tone.
OneVoice is reportedly sponsored by scores of nonprofits and received two grants in the past year from the U.S. State Department.
The State Department is also listed as a partner of OneVoice on the group’s website.
OneVoice development and grants officer Christina Taler told the Washington Free Beacon that “no government funding” has gone toward the V15 voter mobilization effort.
V15’s complete takeover of OneVoice’s Tel Aviv offices, however, may raise some questions not only about the grant usage, but also about the State Department’s current partnership with OneVoice.
Indeed, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has called for an investigation into the State Department’s ties to OneVoice and the group’s anti-Netanyahu effort.
Aside from the State Department, OneVoice is also openly partnered with Google, the U.K. Labour Party and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
‘Obama army’ deploys to Tel Aviv
For its anti-Netanyahu campaign, OneVoice and V15 recently hired 270 Strategies, whose founder is ex-Obama campaign staffer Jeremy Bird.
Bird served as a data analyst and a deputy director for Obama’s 2008 campaign and was the national field director for the president’s massive re-election machine.
Dweck told WND that Bird’s organizing skills are central to designing the evolving V15 battle plan.
“Israelis don’t know how to run field (operations) as Americans [do], and that was the major contribution of Jeremy’s team,” he said.
Bird has provided “very professional help about how to organize, manage people, how to go door-to-door, how to talk to people on the street,” Dweck said.
270 Strategies’ team of 45 staffers includes 16 members who worked directly for Obama’s campaigns. Most of the former Obama staffers hold senior posts at the firm. Others worked for the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee or grassroots groups involved in progressive efforts, including a group to enroll Americans in Obamacare.
The involvement of Bird’s team has ignited reports in some conservative media outlets that Obama or his surrogate are attempting to influence the Israeli elections.
Dweck dismissed those claims as “bullsh-t.”
“It’s a matter of finding the right professionals,” he continued. “And if I need to pick the best professional in the world for the job, [Bird] knows what he is doing. 270 [Strategies] is a great company.”
Besides the initial work to organize the group’s efforts, Dweck said he and V15 continue to consult with Bird and his firm on a regular basis.
The conservative blogosphere is largely focusing on the involvement of Bird in the V15 campaign.
A closer look at Bird’s consulting firm as well as its working relationship with the Israeli groups finds he is just one of scores of former senior Obama election campaign staffers now working on the anti-Netanyahu effort.
Besides Bird, the 270 Strategies team includes the following former Obama staffers:
- Mitch Steward, a 270 Strategies founding partner who helped the Obama campaign build what the U.K. Guardian called “a historic ground operation that will provide the model for political campaigns in America and around the world for years to come.”
- Mark Beatty, a founding partner who served as deputy battleground states director for the Obama campaign. He had primary responsibility for Obama’s election plans for the battleground states.
- Marlon Marshall, a founding partner at 270 Strategies who joins the team after holding several key positions in national Democratic politics, most recently as deputy national field director for the 2012 Obama campaign.
- Betsy Hoover, a founding partner who served as director of digital organizing on the Obama campaign.
- Meg Ansara, who served as national regional director for Obama for America where she was responsible for overseeing the 2012 programs in the Midwest and southern states.
- Bridget Halligan, who served as the engagement program manager on the digital team of the 2012 Obama campaign.
- Kate Catherall, who served as Florida deputy field director for Obama’s re-election campaign.
- Alex Lofton, who most recently served as the GOTV director of Cleveland, Ohio, for the 2012 Obama campaign.
- Martha Patzer, the firm’s vice president who served as deputy email director at Obama for America.
- Jesse Boateng, who served as the Florida voter registration director for Obama’s re-election campaign.
- Ashley Bryant, who served most recently as the Ohio digital director for the 2012 Obama campaign.
- Max Clermont, who formerly served as a regional field director in Florida for Obama’s re-election campaign.
- Max Wood, who served as a deputy data director in Florida for the 2012 Obama campaign.