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Cameron Kerry has long served as a behind-the-scenes adviser throughout his brother Sen. John Kerry’s political career. But over the last few weeks, the younger Kerry, a partner at the Boston firm of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, has stepped out of the shadows of his brother’s presidential campaign. He traveled to Israel two weeks ago for meetings with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other high-ranking government officials. And last week he stumped in South Florida on his brother’s behalf. In Israel, he was accompanied by the Kerry campaign’s senior adviser on Middle East and Jewish affairs, Jay Footlik. The trip was organized by a branch of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the same group that in May hosted President George W. Bush at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. AIPAC says that it is nonpartisan and does not issue political endorsements. The group, recognized as one of the most powerful foreign-policy lobbies in Washington, arranged meetings for Cameron Kerry with Sharon as well as former prime ministers Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu, now minister of foreign affairs, and opposition Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, who was appointed minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister in 2001. AIPAC, which calls itself “America’s pro-Israel lobby,” however, doesn’t want to talk about the trip. Calls to the committee’s headquarters as well as inquiries with the Kerry campaign about the trip were not returned. Cameron Kerry also did not return calls for comment on this article. The committee’s education foundation often takes representatives for presidential candidates, policy-makers, and academics to Israel, says one person involved in organizing the trip. “The leaders were dying to meet him,” this person says. “It’s not like meeting someone’s aunt or anything. It was treated very seriously. He wanted to put forth a message that Israel has a friend in his brother and that if his brother is to be elected, he can be counted on as somebody who would support the interests of the Israeli state. These weren’t courtesy visits.” While in Israel, Cameron Kerry said that Bush has been timid about challenging Saudi Arabia, done little to reduce American dependence on Middle East oil, and had not waged an effective war on terrorism, according to news reports by the Israeli media. John Kerry, who’s set to receive the Democratic nomination for president this week, has recently made attempts to reach out to Jewish voters, particularly in key swing states such as Florida. To that end, his brother is particularly helpful. Raised in a Roman Catholic family, Cameron Kerry, 53, converted to Judaism more than 20 years ago. That alone is a compelling reason for Jewish voters to like him, says Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who hosted Cameron Kerry in his home district in Palm Beach County last week. “People are not going to vote for Senator Kerry just because he has a Jewish brother, but Cameron Kerry is selling a very good product,” Wexler says. “Senator Kerry has an unblemished record as it relates to Israel.” Cameron Kerry was in Palm Beach to talk to groups of Jewish voters about his trip to Israel. Says Rabbi Daniel Levin, who leads Temple Beth El in Boca Raton: “What Cameron Kerry can do is say in an authentic way, ‘I’m one of you, I know my brother, and my brother thinks the way that I’m telling you.’ “ Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, met Cameron Kerry about six months ago, when he was closely advising his brother but playing a quieter public role in the senator’s campaign. “[John] Kerry is still somebody who is defining himself in the Jewish community,” says Hoenlein. “The more he communicates, the better.” Publicizing his Senate voting record on issues related to Israel and reaching out more aggressively to Jewish voters could become a necessity for Kerry, says Steven Windmueller, a professor at the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles who studies Jewish voting patterns. Jewish voters’ historical allegiance to Democrats in the White House has shifted modestly during the Bush administration, Windmueller says. President Bush garnered about 18 percent of the Jewish vote in 2000 and is angling for a bigger cut in November. At AIPAC’s annual meeting in May, Bush received an enthusiastic response to his promise to combat terrorism and his praise for Sharon’s plan to withdraw military installations and settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, laying responsibility on Palestinians to take the next step toward peace, saying that they “must reject corrupt and failed leaders” and pointing to Arab media for inciting anti-Semitism, according to a transcript of the event. “There is no doubt that this administration has consciously and consistently endeavored to be a very good friend to the state of Israel,” says Windmueller. “The question is how this gets conveyed into votes for George Bush.” Cameron Kerry works as a telecom lawyer at Mintz Levin, and the firm has a practice focused on Israeli business. But Steven Rosenthal, a corporate transactions partner at Mintz Levin who helps run the Israel practice, says Cameron Kerry’s visit to Israel was unrelated to the firm’s business interests. “Cam’s particular trip was not on behalf of the firm,” Rosenthal says. “It is always a good thing for people in the firm to be in Israel, but this was not part of business development efforts.” Mintz Levin’s Israel practice, which brings in between $3 million and $5 million to the firm every year, helps Israeli companies, many of them in biotechnology and related industries, to establish business ties in the United States.

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