June 22, 2024
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Republican Looking for Votes for Clinton

Liran Kapoano never thought that his website GOPWithHer.com would touch the ugly nerve of internet anti-Semitism.

Kapoano created GOPWithHer.com for Republicans who might find solace in knowing they aren’t the only ones whose concern about presumptive nominee Donald Trump would push them to consider a vote for Hillary Clinton.

The only time Kapoano, an East Brunswick resident, voted for a Democratic presidential candidate was in 2000 for Al Gore. Since then he’s been a registered Republican-only voter, yet more recently a supporter of #NeverTrump. It did not take long for his website to attract a surprising number of anti-Semitic Tweets and responses.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that social media empowers anonymous cyber bullies to do their thing without repercussions,” said Kapoano, 33.

“On the one hand, the internet has democratized these conversations where people can anonymously criticize without losing their jobs or their freedom, so there’s a benefit to it. But it also is a place for haters. I don’t know if they are Trump supporters or just kids acting out. The problem is, how can you be sure? It’s a little bit concerning.”

Kapoano, who attended the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison and the Moshe Aaron Yeshiva High School in South River before Rutgers University, is the CEO of the internet marketing firm CTC Media. CTC stands for Change The Conversation.

At Rutgers, he started Rutgers United Against Nuclear Iran (RUANI); Scarlet, Blue and White: The Rutgers pro-Israel alliance and Christians United for Israel where he worked in an advisory capacity to help a Christian friend get the group off of the ground. He was also the AIPAC campus liaison.

After college, he worked for Jerusalem Online University and Step Up For Israel. His last position before starting CTC was as Director of the Center for Israel Engagement at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

CTC Media is, he explained, a hybrid online marketing company (with paying clients) that also works to promote Israel online.

“I run a series of pro-Israel Facebook pages including pages dedicated to supporting Scarlett Johansson, Neil Young and other celebrities who have been targeted by BDS supporters,” he said.

He is also working on a pro-Israel news alert/counter-BDS app called “Hater Alert.” He has also created websites such as www.doesbdswork.com and www.bullyingisnottheanswer.org.

GOPWithHer.com begins with this message:

“We expect Donald Trump to accept the nomination at approximately 8 p.m., on July 21st, 2016. At that point our nightmare will truly begin.”

Though he described the responses as for the most part “polite,” he said the anti-Semitic responses “left nothing for the imagination.”

Indeed, one of the responses was “you’ll be hanged in no time.” Another said, “I’m insinuating she is in the pocket of foreign governments. Judging by your website. So you are Jews.”

He calls the ugly emails the work of “Trump Trolls.”

Kapoano describes himself a “veteran of the internet.” He added that if he stopped talking about issues that he cared about, “I wouldn’t last five minutes. The fact is I’m not out there protesting in the streets or doing anything that puts me in harm’s way.”

He added that it was less the personal attacks and more the assumption that the website was from a Jewish source that caused concern.

“What concerns me is that people assumed that it was a group of Jews,” he said. “Why assume that? I’d been part of several different (Jewish) advocacy groups; I was interviewed on the JNS website. But I’m just one person. Why assume we’re a Jewish website?”

He said that even when he advocated for Israel as a Rutgers University student against the BDS Movement, he wasn’t dealing with what he called the “nicest people.” Yet, nobody ever crossed the line like these threats.

He said he has just over 50 people following this issue on Twitter. His website was the collaboration of about four people, all Republicans.

“We were Tweeting for a couple of days and they found us,” he said. “That’s really disturbing. It speaks to a real issue within Trump’s support base. I don’t think everyone supporting Trump is anti-Semitic, and I don’t think he is either. And I don’t think he’s as much of a racist as is portrayed. But I think it’s disturbing that he’s not repudiating any of this (anti-Semitism or racism).”

Kapoano is also planning to “do events” where he’d bring Republicans together who are considering a vote for Clinton. He has even registered to work for her campaign.

“The fact is that I believe very strongly as do the others in this group with me, that he would be catastrophic for the country. He is even to the left of her on several issues. His foreign policy? Banning Muslims?”

He added that he’d like to run events locally in New Jersey and ideally create a national structure. Kapoano said that if he and his colleagues disagree with Clinton on 90 percent of her positions, they’ll back the 10 percent they agree with, which he said centers around her strong, public support of Israel. “Trump,” he said “wants to be neutral on Israel. She also believes in NATO, and she knows what the Executive Branch is supposed to do.”

“What I’m saying is that there is a group in the electorate who would not feel comfortable going to a Democrat Party event, because they themselves are Republicans. So let’s do our own thing, and after the election try and get someone else elected in 2020. We’re looking for more people to get involved. The goal is to get the message out there and tell people they are not alone. For a number of Republicans, Trump is simply a non-starter.”

By Phil Jacobs

The website can found at GOPWithHer.com/.

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