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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Israel should be a US campaign issue

In The Wall Street Journal, Doug Feith goes after those American Jewish groups that are trying to remove Israel from the 2012 Presidential campaign (Hat Tip: Memeorandum; for those who don't have Wall Street Journal subscriptions, you can find the full article here). Feith argues, correctly, that Israel has always been an issue in American political campaigns for both the Congress and the Presidency.
But since when have American supporters of Israel believed that a candidate's attitudes toward Israel should be kept out of electoral politics? Since never.

In 1984, pro-Israel groups exerted themselves to block the re-election of Illinois Republican Sen. Charles Percy, the prominent chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who was an outspoken critic of Israel and champion of U.S. engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Percy lost and, in an election night interview, attributed his defeat to the Israel lobby. Other politicians who met a similar fate include Reps. Paul Findley (R., Ill.) and Cynthia McKinney (D., Ga.).

When running against President George H.W. Bush in 1992, Bill Clinton took full advantage of Mr. Bush's testy relationship with Israel. As the New York Times reported in March 1992: "Some leaders of American Jewish groups predicted today that President Bush would pay in the November election for his demand that Israel freeze settlements."

One such leader spoke of the "anger and dismay in Jewish communities over Bush Administration policy that is increasingly perceived as one-sided and unfair against Israel," adding "I imagine it will be translated into an unwillingness to vote for this Administration or contribute funds." By the way, the speaker was Jess Hordes, Washington director of the ADL.
Feith goes on to review the relationship between President Obama and Israel, and concludes that if the ADL and AJC - the two groups that wanted the 'unity pledge' - really want to unify American Jewry, they should call on it to oppose President Obama's Israel policies.
When Mr. Netanyahu addressed Congress in May, most Democrats, including the leadership, joined in the numerous standing ovations that were obviously intended to contrast the affection for Israel on Capitol Hill with the bad feeling emanating from the White House.

So anyone truly intent on preserving unity among Israel's friends could do so by building on the substantial bipartisan opposition to Mr. Obama's policies on Israel. Instead, the AJC and the ADL are working to protect Mr. Obama.

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At 1:07 PM, Blogger jfxgillis said...

So. Dual loyalty is okay when some Likudnik proposes it, but it's a horrible anti-semitic smear when anyone else raises the question?


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