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Friday, March 26, 2010

Congressional candidate walks away from J Street

Doug Pike, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 6th district (a heavily Jewish district in suburban Philadelphia) has asked J Street, the pro-Obama, pro-Iran lobby, to withdraw its endorsement of his candidacy, and will return some $6,000 in contributions to the organization.
It appears that Pike, who is fighting for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach, has gotten the message from voters and contributors that aligning himself with J Street is not the path to the hearts or the wallets of pro-Israel Democrats.

Pike, the son of Otis Pike, a onetime New York congressman, is a former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial writer and is locked in a tough fight against Manan Trivedi, a physician and Iraq-war veteran who has got the endorsement of two key Democratic committees in the district, which stretches across three suburban counties in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Schwartzman says that one pro-Israel fundraiser claims “a number of potential contributors walked away from Pike after the J Street endorsement became known, and after Gerlach — considered a strong Israel backer — decided not to run for governor.”

Pike told the Exponent that “when he first sought J Street’s endorsement back in September, he had underestimated his policy differences with the group.” Of special interest, in the context of this past week’s dispute between the Obama administration and Israel, is that Pike was “troubled” by J Street’s recent stance that Israel halt construction in eastern Jerusalem because J Street has backed Obama against Netanyahu on the issue of plans to build Jewish homes in an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood. “People simply assumed when they heard that I was endorsed by J Street that I agreed with them on everything,” said Pike. “The endorsement was an impediment to my being able to explain my convictions about Israel’s security.”
The first of many?

Meanwhile, Jennifer Rubin reports that Israel has also become an issue in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District, which is also in suburban Philadelphia but has not quite as many Jews as the 6th District.
So what may be a key issue in the district race? [Republican candidate Pat] Meehan is pointing to Obama’s Israel policy, blasting away:
Israel has long been a close ally of the United States, a shining example of democracy and a free market economy in the Middle East. … I am extremely troubled with the Secretary of State’s very public rebuke and questioning of Israel’s commitment to peace. Over the course of the past year, Israel has made many concessions, including the removal of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints and a ten month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank. These are significant steps, with Secretary of State Clinton calling the latter move “unprecedented.”

Israel has been a long-time friend and ally of the United States and it is concerning that some experts have stated relations are at their worst point in decades. … To date, the Administration’s policy on Israel has appeared haphazard and somewhat one-sided. Surrounded by Arab states that in the past have stated their desire for its complete destruction, Israel deserves better treatment and support from America. It is my hope that the rift that formed in recent weeks will be repaired and that Israel and the United States can move forward together toward brokering a lasting peace agreement.


At 4:33 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I believe next to Obamacare - Israel could well become a litmus issue that serves a synecdoche for Obama's foreign policy in general. That is his treatment of Israel exposes his campaign promise to treat other countries with dignity and mutual respect to be a bold-faced lie. And we know what kind of Obama policy towards Israel that J-Street is supporting and it isn't one that squares with that Obama campaign promise.

What could go wrong indeed


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