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Friday, January 08, 2010

Why I'm supporting Scott Brown for the US Senate

I haven't voted in Massachusetts since the early 1980's; although I continued to vote absentee in Massachusetts throughout college and my two years in yeshiva, when I got married at the end of my first year of law school, I moved my voting residence to New York and eventually to New Jersey. I still vote in New Jersey in Federal elections.

As many of you undoubtedly know already, there's a special election in Massachusetts on January 19 to fill the US Senate seat that was vacated by the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. The election is especially important because if the Republican, Scott Brown, wins, the Democrats will presumably lose their filibuster majority in the Senate (they have 60 seats now). This could be important on a whole slew of issues.

If I'm going to go backing a candidate in a US election from Israel, I want to know that s/he supports Israel. Otherwise, I can just sit a US election out and no one is the wiser. I've been following Scott on Twitter for a couple of weeks, but haven't really seen a lot of talk about Israel. I looked online to see what Scott Brown's position on Israel was, and just about all I found was this.

Israel has made enormous sacrifices in an attempt to secure peace – including unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. I support a two-state solution that reaffirms Israel’s right to exist and provides the Palestinians with a place of their own where both sides can live in peace and security. As our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel lives every day under the threat of terror yet shares with America a dedication to democratic ideals, a respect for faith, and a commitment to peace in the region. Until a lasting peace is achieved, I support the security barrier erected by Israel which has proven successful in protecting Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks.
That seemed to be good news and bad news, if you believe, as I do, that by giving the 'Palestinians' a 'place of their own' between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, you've cut out Israel's heart and left it insecure and missing part of its soul. On the other hand, in most of the rest of the World, if you say you oppose the 'two-state solution,' it means you don't want Israel to exist, so maybe it would be expecting too much to find my own position on Brown's site. Almost no one outside of Israel even considers the possibility that Israel should be the only state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean (that's the fault of successive Israeli governments since 1992, but that's not a topic for now). The rest of the statement looked okay, but I had no way of gauging what's behind it.

On Iran, Brown sounded much better:

I support the bi-partisan Iran sanctions bill and believe that until Ahmadinejad gives up his nuclear ambitions he should be isolated from the rest of the world. With its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran represents the biggest threat to Israel. Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Meeting with him confers legitimacy when the only correct response is to treat him as an outcast. A personal meeting with Ahmadinejad, as suggested by my opponent, would embolden him and be used as a propaganda tool to strengthen his position.
Both of those positions are far better than Brown's opponent, Martha Coakley. Here's what she says about Israel.
Martha knows that a stable Middle East is critical to ensuring the development of freedom and civil rights for those living in the region and for the security of America. The war in Iraq, continued violence in Israel and Palestine, and Iran's nuclear ambitions, are serious problems. As Senator, Martha will dedicate herself to keeping America safe and developing ways for the people of the Middle East to live peacefully and prosper.

Supporting Israel

Israel is one of our most important allies. Martha has traveled to Israel and has seen firsthand how important this democratic nation is in the region. In Washington, Martha will work to make sure Israel's safety and security remain our priority.

Martha supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Martha knows that a safe and secure Israel is part of the foundation of a stable Middle East, and thus America's national security. In Washington, Martha will help continue the ongoing and gravely important work of developing a workable two-state solution so we all finally know peace in that region.
Anyone who refers to the non-existent country of 'Palestine' has already lost a lot of points in my book. Note that Israel is 'one of our most important allies' as opposed to Brown who calls it 'our closest ally.' And the reference to 'Martha has traveled to Israel' is ten years old.

Then there's Martha Coakley on Iran:
Responding to the Threat of a Nuclear Iran

Martha takes seriously the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear state. Martha understands that a nuclear Iran threatens the security of America and the entire Middle East.

In Washington, Martha will do everything in her power to ensure that Iran does not, under any circumstances, develop nuclear weapons. Martha knows that America and our allies must remain vigilant against a nuclear Iran. Iran must have a transparent civilian nuclear program that allows for inspections and appropriate safeguards. In Washington, Martha will push for continued international cooperation in holding Iran accountable to its promises to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In order for America to ensure its own safety and security, we must be able to connect directly with the country. As Senator, Martha will support bilateral talks with Iran and work to forge ongoing diplomatic engagement. While Martha supports direct negotiations with Iran, she supports appropriate sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
Bilateral talks with Ahmadinejad and Khameni are not the way to go. Sanctions don't come up until the last sentence, and it's not clear whether she favors or opposes the House sanctions bill, which is to come before the Senate the day of the Massachusetts special election. No country has a natural right to a 'civilian nuclear program,' especially not one whose motives are in such serious doubt. I'm not comfortable with Coakley's positions on Iran. You shouldn't be either.

There's an interview with Scott Brown in the Jewish Advocate, Boston's largest weekly Jewish newspaper (Hat Tip: Solomonia via Twitter - actually a re-tweet from Kesher Talk). The Advocate says Brown took a 'hard line' on Israel. As you will see from the questions, the Advocate is a pretty Left-leaning paper. Here's some of what Brown said:
Q: Speaking of existing agreements, Israel previously agreed to stop building more settlements. The Obama administration pressed Israel to halt any more settlement activity. Are settlements an obstacle to achieving a two-state solution?

Well certainly, but Israel also has the right to live in its lands without having another country dictate terms before you get to the bargaining table. Whether it's close settlements or not build, you can't be giving away cards before you get to the bargaining table. ... I find it offensive that [Obama is] setting the terms before even sitting down at the table. ... I think that Israel had done more than enough in terms of extending the olive branch to get people to the bargaining table.

Q: Israel's security barrier in the West Bank and its incursion into the Gaza Strip both achieved their aims, measured by the reduction in suicide bombings inside Israel and rocket fire from Gaza. Yet both have been condemned as violating Palestinians' rights. Are Israel's methods excessive?

A: Well, when it comes to your survival, I don't know, what's excessive? When you have people lobbing missiles into your bedrooms, you need to establish security measures to protect your kids, your families. ... And don't forget. when you have Hamas lobbing missiles from hospitals and schools, you're at an unfair disadvantage. Israel and the United States, we follow the Geneva Conventions and the protocols and the laws of war.


Q: How concerned are you that Iran is close to acquiring a nuclear weapon? Do you believe economic sanctions can halt the Iranian program? If not, should other measures be considered, or should the world, and Israel, find a way to coexist with a nuclear Iran?

That's scary. Well, first of all there's a couple of things happening. Ahmadinejad ... Martha Coakley wants to have one-on-one negotiations with him. She would go there. That's ridiculous. You don't want to legitimize his regime and give it a propaganda tool. She'd be the only one who wants to do that. Not even President Obama wants to do that. Low-level negotiations are great, but they're obviously playing the cat and mouse game. ...

They're at 28 percent unemployment. Their cash reserves are almost gone. So if there is any type of economic threat right now, that can work ... it would shut their industry down cold. ...

Everyone knows that Israel has the right to protect itself. The option to attack Iran is always there. You don't even need to mention it.
It probably won't surprise most of you after reading that interview (and I urge you to read it all) that I'm supporting Scott Brown for the US Senate. I went through this whole post so that my trolls (you know who you are) won't say that I'm automatically supporting the Republican without a rational basis. But having prepared this post, I am much more comfortable with my choice than I would have been otherwise.

Even if you're not in Massachusetts, you can support Scott Brown by making phone calls on his behalf and (for those of you who can) by donating money. Go here to learn more.

Here's Scott's most recent campaign ad, obviously shot last Friday outside Fenway Park before the Bruins played the Flyers in the annual New Year's Day outdoor game.

Let's go to the videotape.

I still have lots of friends and some readers in the Boston area. I urge you all to vote for Scott Brown on January 19.

P.S. For the record, I oppose Obamacare too. Aside from the fact that I believe it's bad for America (and I've lived under a socialized medical system that is much better than Obamacare for the last 15 years), under the Senate version of the bill, there's a penalty imposed on any American citizen who doesn't have an American health care plan. That penalty, which would have to be paid when I file my income tax return, would also be imposed on American expatriates like me, even though I already have health insurance in Israel, where I live, and even though I have to pay for special health insurance every time I come to the US. Foul, foul, foul.


At 3:40 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I do think its important for Americans to send the Democrats a wakeup call. America doesn't want a huge government that runs our lives, taxes us to death and at the same is incapable of protecting us from danger abroad. Scott Brown taking that Senate seat would cripple the Obama agenda for the rest of 2010 and beyond and that's needed to preserve the American Dream for future generations. Let's hope the good guy wins later this month.

At 6:11 AM, Blogger DavidD6 said...

My take on Scott Brown's comment regarding being in favor of a "two-state solution" is it's unacceptable. Scott Brown and those who support two state solution either don't understand what's written in the Bible or deny the word of G-d.

At the VERY least, the standard that all people who are in office or are running for office need to be held by is the high standard that Elizabeth Berney set in the interview you shared with us two weeks ago. The vast majority of those who are running for office in the U.S. and Israel fall far short of this standard.


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