Commentary Magazine


Topic: Democratic Jewish Council

Hagel, Sestak, and Pro-Israel Groups

When Chuck Hagel threw his support to Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak and seemed to have made it into the short list for a replacement for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, alarm bells went off with pro-Israel groups. The Washington Jewish Week reports just how serious is the opposition and aversion to Hagel:

“I would regard him as the bottom of the class as far as Israel goes,” said Morris Amitay, a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and treasurer of the Washington PAC, a pro-Israel political action committee.

In light of its past criticism of Hagel’s anti-Israel record, even the National Democratic Jewish Council had harsh words:

“Clearly, Hagel has a mixed record on Israel, but that record frankly puts him at variance with the president’s own policies vis-a-vis Israel,” said David Harris, president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, adding that, for now, “speculation is just that.”

Well then, what does all of this say about the candidate who calls Hagel his favorite Senator and who warmly received the endorsement? If Hagel’s record is “mixed” (it used to be much worse, from the NJDC’s perspective), then isn’t there just a wee bit of concern that Sestak’s views are also at “variance” with support for Israel?

Likewise, we have this from a Democratic operative: “If he was in fact appointed [Defense Secretary], I would find his appointment difficult to reconcile with my views of the administration.” So, isn’t it also hard to reconcile with Sestak’s views?

When Chuck Hagel threw his support to Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak and seemed to have made it into the short list for a replacement for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, alarm bells went off with pro-Israel groups. The Washington Jewish Week reports just how serious is the opposition and aversion to Hagel:

“I would regard him as the bottom of the class as far as Israel goes,” said Morris Amitay, a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and treasurer of the Washington PAC, a pro-Israel political action committee.

In light of its past criticism of Hagel’s anti-Israel record, even the National Democratic Jewish Council had harsh words:

“Clearly, Hagel has a mixed record on Israel, but that record frankly puts him at variance with the president’s own policies vis-a-vis Israel,” said David Harris, president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, adding that, for now, “speculation is just that.”

Well then, what does all of this say about the candidate who calls Hagel his favorite Senator and who warmly received the endorsement? If Hagel’s record is “mixed” (it used to be much worse, from the NJDC’s perspective), then isn’t there just a wee bit of concern that Sestak’s views are also at “variance” with support for Israel?

Likewise, we have this from a Democratic operative: “If he was in fact appointed [Defense Secretary], I would find his appointment difficult to reconcile with my views of the administration.” So, isn’t it also hard to reconcile with Sestak’s views?

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Holding “Pro-Israel” Candidates Accountable

Ben Smith reports that the Emergency Committee for Israel is up with a new ad hitting Democratic Rep. Rush Holt. In a new twist, ECI goes after Holt his 100 percent rating from CAIR. Smith writes, “The ad seeks, in part, to establish the boundaries of acceptable American politics on the issue of Israel.”  That is off-base, I think, in an important respect.

ECI isn’t declaring that “no member of Congress has a right to hold these views.” The group is saying that if the candidate himself is going to declare himself “pro-Israel,” it is fair game to look at his voting record and see if that is the case. ECI is not trying to define “boundaries of acceptable American politics” but rather to recapture the term “pro-Israel” from those who invoke the label but who take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests and that are supportive of Israel’s enemies. You can take whatever stance you like, but if you’re going to call yourself “pro-Israel,” says ECI, then you’d better be so.

Why is the distinction important? Well, the Walt-Mearsheimer Israel-haters like to claim that the “Israel Lobby” — that would be the pro-Israel Jews and Christians and the majority of Americans — wants to shut people up or drive them out of the public debate. But there is no evidence of that. In fact, the position that you can’t “politicize” Israel or make that a legitimate issue on which to evaluate candidates is a not a very subtle way of giving anti-Israel candidates a free pass. One reason why J Street, the National Democratic Jewish Council, and the leftist blogosphere wigged out when ECI appeared is that, until now, they have been able to shield candidates with a record of hostility to the Jewish state from scrutiny.

Well, those days are over. If candidates want to keynote for CAIR, or take money from CAIR, or sign letters bashing Israel, they can (to the extent CAIR is not found to be engaged in illegal activities, an investigation that Ben Smith points out is ongoing). If they want to cajole Israel to lift the Gaza blockade or urge an imposed peace deal, they can. But then they must expect to be criticized for it. That exercise — about any domestic or foreign policy issue — is not only legitimate but necessary in a democratic political system.

Ben Smith reports that the Emergency Committee for Israel is up with a new ad hitting Democratic Rep. Rush Holt. In a new twist, ECI goes after Holt his 100 percent rating from CAIR. Smith writes, “The ad seeks, in part, to establish the boundaries of acceptable American politics on the issue of Israel.”  That is off-base, I think, in an important respect.

ECI isn’t declaring that “no member of Congress has a right to hold these views.” The group is saying that if the candidate himself is going to declare himself “pro-Israel,” it is fair game to look at his voting record and see if that is the case. ECI is not trying to define “boundaries of acceptable American politics” but rather to recapture the term “pro-Israel” from those who invoke the label but who take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests and that are supportive of Israel’s enemies. You can take whatever stance you like, but if you’re going to call yourself “pro-Israel,” says ECI, then you’d better be so.

Why is the distinction important? Well, the Walt-Mearsheimer Israel-haters like to claim that the “Israel Lobby” — that would be the pro-Israel Jews and Christians and the majority of Americans — wants to shut people up or drive them out of the public debate. But there is no evidence of that. In fact, the position that you can’t “politicize” Israel or make that a legitimate issue on which to evaluate candidates is a not a very subtle way of giving anti-Israel candidates a free pass. One reason why J Street, the National Democratic Jewish Council, and the leftist blogosphere wigged out when ECI appeared is that, until now, they have been able to shield candidates with a record of hostility to the Jewish state from scrutiny.

Well, those days are over. If candidates want to keynote for CAIR, or take money from CAIR, or sign letters bashing Israel, they can (to the extent CAIR is not found to be engaged in illegal activities, an investigation that Ben Smith points out is ongoing). If they want to cajole Israel to lift the Gaza blockade or urge an imposed peace deal, they can. But then they must expect to be criticized for it. That exercise — about any domestic or foreign policy issue — is not only legitimate but necessary in a democratic political system.

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Sestak Struggling

The Pennsylvania media reports that Joe Sestak is floundering:

More than midway through the political calendar, Sestak seems endlessly on the defensive. It’s partly of his own doing, but largely because Toomey, with a sharper message and flush finances, has been the aggressor.

So far, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate battle has been fought on Toomey’s terms.

Sestak has taken a beating on his Israel record, forcing him to go on MSNBC to deny that it’s a significant issue and to call in J Street for support. (The J Street gang ponied up only a tiny ad buy.) But that isn’t Sestak’s only problem:

Two days after the May 18 primary, Toomey went on the air with a commercial that highlighted Sestak’s support for health [care] reform, bailouts, and civilian trials for foreign terrorists. A few days later, after Sestak had appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, Toomey’s campaign sent out a press release saying the interview showcased Sestak’s “sham independence.” …

Toomey has aired six television commercials about Sestak, painting him as an extreme liberal to the left of most members of his political party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce aired two commercials linking Sestak to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and calling him “anti-business.”

Sestak tried to strike back last week by enlisting the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to bandy charges that Toomey was a derivatives trader who helped sink the economy. The charges were generally derided as untrue, and Toomey surged to a nine-point lead in the race. Meanwhile, Sestak strained to explain why he had accepted campaign donations from recipients of earmarks, something he pledged to not do.

Sestak has suffered on three counts: his ultra-liberal voting record, the generally toxic political environment for the Democrats, and a certain incoherence in his own campaign. A case in point is the endorsement by former Sen. Chuck Hagel. This comes at a time when Sestak has labored to rebut attacks on his own Israel record and on his keynote address for CAIR. But Hagel seems a particularly poor messenger for Sestak. The National Democratic Jewish Council explained in 2007:

As Senator Hagel sits around for six more months and tries to decide whether to launch a futile bid for the White House, he has a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel.  Consider this:

– In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

– In October 2000, Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.

– In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yasir Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.

– In December 2005, Hagel  was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.

– In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran’s nuclear program at the G-8 summit. …

And here’s what the anti-Israel group, CAIR wrote in praise of Hagel:

“Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel…” [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/28/06]

Not exactly an effective way to rebut arguments that his instincts lead him to positions — and allies — that are anti-Israel.

Sestak has time to recover, but he may not have the ability to. On this one, the White House might have been right: Arlen Specter was the more viable of the two Democratic contenders.

The Pennsylvania media reports that Joe Sestak is floundering:

More than midway through the political calendar, Sestak seems endlessly on the defensive. It’s partly of his own doing, but largely because Toomey, with a sharper message and flush finances, has been the aggressor.

So far, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate battle has been fought on Toomey’s terms.

Sestak has taken a beating on his Israel record, forcing him to go on MSNBC to deny that it’s a significant issue and to call in J Street for support. (The J Street gang ponied up only a tiny ad buy.) But that isn’t Sestak’s only problem:

Two days after the May 18 primary, Toomey went on the air with a commercial that highlighted Sestak’s support for health [care] reform, bailouts, and civilian trials for foreign terrorists. A few days later, after Sestak had appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, Toomey’s campaign sent out a press release saying the interview showcased Sestak’s “sham independence.” …

Toomey has aired six television commercials about Sestak, painting him as an extreme liberal to the left of most members of his political party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce aired two commercials linking Sestak to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and calling him “anti-business.”

Sestak tried to strike back last week by enlisting the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to bandy charges that Toomey was a derivatives trader who helped sink the economy. The charges were generally derided as untrue, and Toomey surged to a nine-point lead in the race. Meanwhile, Sestak strained to explain why he had accepted campaign donations from recipients of earmarks, something he pledged to not do.

Sestak has suffered on three counts: his ultra-liberal voting record, the generally toxic political environment for the Democrats, and a certain incoherence in his own campaign. A case in point is the endorsement by former Sen. Chuck Hagel. This comes at a time when Sestak has labored to rebut attacks on his own Israel record and on his keynote address for CAIR. But Hagel seems a particularly poor messenger for Sestak. The National Democratic Jewish Council explained in 2007:

As Senator Hagel sits around for six more months and tries to decide whether to launch a futile bid for the White House, he has a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel.  Consider this:

– In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

– In October 2000, Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.

– In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yasir Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.

– In December 2005, Hagel  was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.

– In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran’s nuclear program at the G-8 summit. …

And here’s what the anti-Israel group, CAIR wrote in praise of Hagel:

“Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel…” [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/28/06]

Not exactly an effective way to rebut arguments that his instincts lead him to positions — and allies — that are anti-Israel.

Sestak has time to recover, but he may not have the ability to. On this one, the White House might have been right: Arlen Specter was the more viable of the two Democratic contenders.

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Democrats Upset Their Lagging Support for Israel Is an Issue

David A. Harris, the President and CEO of the National Democratic Jewish Council, had this response to the launch of the Emergency Committee for Israel and, specifically, to ECI board member Gary Bauer (who observed that this is “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States”):

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and others have it right when they stress the importance of bipartisanship in supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. In contrast, Gary Bauer shows this new group’s true colors when he wildly and wrongly bashes the Obama Administration as “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States.” President Obama has gathered a global coalition against Iran, and strengthened strategic ties with Israel to unparalleled heights. Playing partisan games with support for Israel is wrong, period.

Well, that, in a nutshell, explains why the ECI is needed. This is an extreme example of flackery; of course, this group is an adjunct of the Democratic Party and has never publicly crossed Obama — not even when he awarded the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. But the tendency among liberal Jews to offer a knee-jerk defense for the Obama administration (and the preposterous assertion that the relationship with Israel is better than ever) leaves those who want a strong voice for Israel, not for the administration’s Israel policy, wanting more forceful leadership. The ECI certainly has room to run in this political landscape.

While it would be delightful to have stalwart bipartisan support for Israel, Harris and his fellow Democrats aren’t carrying their own weight. Gallup and other polls have noted the growing disparity between Democrats and Republicans in their support for Israel. While Americans as a whole remain very supportive of a strong U.S. – Israel relationship (63 percent in a February Gallup poll) the gap between Republicans (85 percent) and Democrats (48 percent) is huge and historically unprecedented.

You can see that ECI and other genuinely pro-Israel groups have their work cut out for them.

David A. Harris, the President and CEO of the National Democratic Jewish Council, had this response to the launch of the Emergency Committee for Israel and, specifically, to ECI board member Gary Bauer (who observed that this is “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States”):

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and others have it right when they stress the importance of bipartisanship in supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. In contrast, Gary Bauer shows this new group’s true colors when he wildly and wrongly bashes the Obama Administration as “the most anti-Israel administration in the history of the United States.” President Obama has gathered a global coalition against Iran, and strengthened strategic ties with Israel to unparalleled heights. Playing partisan games with support for Israel is wrong, period.

Well, that, in a nutshell, explains why the ECI is needed. This is an extreme example of flackery; of course, this group is an adjunct of the Democratic Party and has never publicly crossed Obama — not even when he awarded the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson. But the tendency among liberal Jews to offer a knee-jerk defense for the Obama administration (and the preposterous assertion that the relationship with Israel is better than ever) leaves those who want a strong voice for Israel, not for the administration’s Israel policy, wanting more forceful leadership. The ECI certainly has room to run in this political landscape.

While it would be delightful to have stalwart bipartisan support for Israel, Harris and his fellow Democrats aren’t carrying their own weight. Gallup and other polls have noted the growing disparity between Democrats and Republicans in their support for Israel. While Americans as a whole remain very supportive of a strong U.S. – Israel relationship (63 percent in a February Gallup poll) the gap between Republicans (85 percent) and Democrats (48 percent) is huge and historically unprecedented.

You can see that ECI and other genuinely pro-Israel groups have their work cut out for them.

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Will Obama’s Israel Policy Inflict Damage in the Midterms?

This report on the impact of Obama’s Israel policy on the midterm elections should be read in full. Particularly telling are the Obama sycophants in the Jewish community. How do you defend the worst presidential record on Israel in recent memory? There are two options.

First, deny there is anything wrong — anything at all — with Obama’s policy. For ludicrous spin, nothing quite matches the National Democratic Jewish Council: “The U.S.-Israel alliance ‘has never been stronger or more strategically aligned than it is today,’ said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council.” Statements like that reveal the group is nothing more than a shill for the Democratic Party. Harris doesn’t have much to work with when defending a president who has condemned the Jewish state, demanded unilateral concessions from Israel, insulted the prime minister, recited the Palestinian-victim narrative from Cairo but has not visited Israel, hinted about (and then retreated from) an imposed peace deal, singled out Israel in an NPT statement (and then told Bibi he didn’t mean anything by it) and refused to commit America to Israel’s defense against an existential threat (to the contrary, has suggested military force against Iran is off the table). However, for the sake of his own credibility, he’d be wise to stop the over-the-top flackery.

Another option is to take refuge in the notion that many American Jews don’t give much thought to Israel. J Street — which says (but only some of the time) that it is pro-Israel — seems downright pleased that many Jews are more concerned with ObamaCare and global warming than with the Jewish state:

J Street officials boast that their political action committee has distributed more money to candidates for the 2010 elections – some $680,000 – than during the entire 2008 campaign. But J Street also argues that Israel policy is not a top priority for most Jewish voters. The group’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said a recent poll it commissioned found that less than 10 percent of American Jews cited Israel as one of their top two voting issues.

“It’s really a small percentage for whom this is a top-tier issue,” Ben-Ami said.

For a guy trying to pass himself off as Israel’s friend, he doesn’t sound like this is a problem — or like his job is to elevate Israel to the top tier of concerns.

But out in the country where real candidates are running, and where real voters roll their eyes over Beltway spin, there will be contests in which Israel plays a key role. As The Hill points out,  the J Street endorsed Joe Sestak (a signatory on the Gaza 54 letter and a friend of CAIR) is facing a tough challenge from Pat Toomey, who has been hammering at this and other issues as evidence of Sestak’s extreme leftism. There are important House races as well:

The battle between J Street and other Jewish groups has flared in a House race in Illinois, where incumbent Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D), has come under fire from a Republican challenger, Joel Pollak, for her stance on Israel. Pollack won the endorsement of Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat known for his hawkish support of Israel. In response, J Street circulated an online fund-raising petition for Schakowsky, collecting $40,000 in a day.

Now, the most compelling evidence that Obama’s Israel policy has been a flop and has domestic political consequences comes from the White House itself. Had Obama not polluted the U.S.-Israel relationship and shocked even faithful Democratic supporters, would he have launched a “charm offensive”? Had a do-over meeting with Bibi? Maybe he isn’t the swellest pro-Israel president ever.

This report on the impact of Obama’s Israel policy on the midterm elections should be read in full. Particularly telling are the Obama sycophants in the Jewish community. How do you defend the worst presidential record on Israel in recent memory? There are two options.

First, deny there is anything wrong — anything at all — with Obama’s policy. For ludicrous spin, nothing quite matches the National Democratic Jewish Council: “The U.S.-Israel alliance ‘has never been stronger or more strategically aligned than it is today,’ said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council.” Statements like that reveal the group is nothing more than a shill for the Democratic Party. Harris doesn’t have much to work with when defending a president who has condemned the Jewish state, demanded unilateral concessions from Israel, insulted the prime minister, recited the Palestinian-victim narrative from Cairo but has not visited Israel, hinted about (and then retreated from) an imposed peace deal, singled out Israel in an NPT statement (and then told Bibi he didn’t mean anything by it) and refused to commit America to Israel’s defense against an existential threat (to the contrary, has suggested military force against Iran is off the table). However, for the sake of his own credibility, he’d be wise to stop the over-the-top flackery.

Another option is to take refuge in the notion that many American Jews don’t give much thought to Israel. J Street — which says (but only some of the time) that it is pro-Israel — seems downright pleased that many Jews are more concerned with ObamaCare and global warming than with the Jewish state:

J Street officials boast that their political action committee has distributed more money to candidates for the 2010 elections – some $680,000 – than during the entire 2008 campaign. But J Street also argues that Israel policy is not a top priority for most Jewish voters. The group’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said a recent poll it commissioned found that less than 10 percent of American Jews cited Israel as one of their top two voting issues.

“It’s really a small percentage for whom this is a top-tier issue,” Ben-Ami said.

For a guy trying to pass himself off as Israel’s friend, he doesn’t sound like this is a problem — or like his job is to elevate Israel to the top tier of concerns.

But out in the country where real candidates are running, and where real voters roll their eyes over Beltway spin, there will be contests in which Israel plays a key role. As The Hill points out,  the J Street endorsed Joe Sestak (a signatory on the Gaza 54 letter and a friend of CAIR) is facing a tough challenge from Pat Toomey, who has been hammering at this and other issues as evidence of Sestak’s extreme leftism. There are important House races as well:

The battle between J Street and other Jewish groups has flared in a House race in Illinois, where incumbent Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D), has come under fire from a Republican challenger, Joel Pollak, for her stance on Israel. Pollack won the endorsement of Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat known for his hawkish support of Israel. In response, J Street circulated an online fund-raising petition for Schakowsky, collecting $40,000 in a day.

Now, the most compelling evidence that Obama’s Israel policy has been a flop and has domestic political consequences comes from the White House itself. Had Obama not polluted the U.S.-Israel relationship and shocked even faithful Democratic supporters, would he have launched a “charm offensive”? Had a do-over meeting with Bibi? Maybe he isn’t the swellest pro-Israel president ever.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Andy McCarthy explains: “After months of delay, DOJ officials released what they claim is the back-up for Attorney General Holder’s oft-repeated and outlandish claim that there are ‘hundreds’ of convicted ‘terrorists’  incarcerated in federal prisons, which ‘fact’ supposedly shows that civilian justice processes are our best method of trying, convicting and securely detaining terrorists.” Most of the 403 supposed cases aren’t really terrorism cases at all.

The latest ObamaCare victim: AT &T, its shareholders, employees and retirees: “AT&T Inc. will take a $1 billion non-cash accounting charge in the first quarter because of the health care overhaul and may cut benefits it offers to current and retired workers.”

And then there is 3M, which announced that “it expects to record a one-time non-cash charge of $85 to $90 million after tax, or approximately 12 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2010, resulting from the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including modifications made in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 passed by Congress on March 25, 2010.”

You wonder whether anyone in the White House pays attention to headlines like this: “Is Economy’s Momentum About to Hit a Wall?” And, that was before ObamaCare hit.

The White House gloats: “Best week we’ve had in a long damn time.” Yes, it was quite a week — taking over 1/6th of the economy and beating up on Israel. Nothing quite thrills the Chicago pols like the display of brute political force.

You knew this was coming: “Michigan Right to Life has always endorsed Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) and was backing him for re-election this year. But after his pivotal vote for health care reform without the inclusion of legally binding language banning taxpayer funding of abortion, the group has rescinded its endorsement and pledged to support his Republican challenger, Dan Benishek.”

John Noonan, on the Obami’s anti-Israel gambit: “President Obama’s stewardship of the special U.S.-Israel relationship has been nothing short of shameful. But, beyond that, his behavior towards Netanyahu doesn’t make a lick of sense. There’s no quantifiable end game here. Obama is either so caught up in his own personality cult that he honestly believes he can drive a wedge between the Israeli electorate and Netanyahu’s fragile government (unlikely), or he’s just that infantile — throwing a temper tantrum over an ill-timed settlement announcement. . . . This is just another example of the White House’s lean towards ideology over pragmatism, and how smart power has proven to be anything but.”

David Axelrod to speak to the National Democratic Jewish Council on April 22. Here’s the time for choosing: are they simply flunkies for the administration or will they protest and condemn the shameless treatment of Israel? Well, I’m under no illusions.

Andy McCarthy explains: “After months of delay, DOJ officials released what they claim is the back-up for Attorney General Holder’s oft-repeated and outlandish claim that there are ‘hundreds’ of convicted ‘terrorists’  incarcerated in federal prisons, which ‘fact’ supposedly shows that civilian justice processes are our best method of trying, convicting and securely detaining terrorists.” Most of the 403 supposed cases aren’t really terrorism cases at all.

The latest ObamaCare victim: AT &T, its shareholders, employees and retirees: “AT&T Inc. will take a $1 billion non-cash accounting charge in the first quarter because of the health care overhaul and may cut benefits it offers to current and retired workers.”

And then there is 3M, which announced that “it expects to record a one-time non-cash charge of $85 to $90 million after tax, or approximately 12 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2010, resulting from the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including modifications made in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 passed by Congress on March 25, 2010.”

You wonder whether anyone in the White House pays attention to headlines like this: “Is Economy’s Momentum About to Hit a Wall?” And, that was before ObamaCare hit.

The White House gloats: “Best week we’ve had in a long damn time.” Yes, it was quite a week — taking over 1/6th of the economy and beating up on Israel. Nothing quite thrills the Chicago pols like the display of brute political force.

You knew this was coming: “Michigan Right to Life has always endorsed Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) and was backing him for re-election this year. But after his pivotal vote for health care reform without the inclusion of legally binding language banning taxpayer funding of abortion, the group has rescinded its endorsement and pledged to support his Republican challenger, Dan Benishek.”

John Noonan, on the Obami’s anti-Israel gambit: “President Obama’s stewardship of the special U.S.-Israel relationship has been nothing short of shameful. But, beyond that, his behavior towards Netanyahu doesn’t make a lick of sense. There’s no quantifiable end game here. Obama is either so caught up in his own personality cult that he honestly believes he can drive a wedge between the Israeli electorate and Netanyahu’s fragile government (unlikely), or he’s just that infantile — throwing a temper tantrum over an ill-timed settlement announcement. . . . This is just another example of the White House’s lean towards ideology over pragmatism, and how smart power has proven to be anything but.”

David Axelrod to speak to the National Democratic Jewish Council on April 22. Here’s the time for choosing: are they simply flunkies for the administration or will they protest and condemn the shameless treatment of Israel? Well, I’m under no illusions.

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The Fallout

The Republican Jewish Coalition, not unexpectedly, issued a lengthy statement blasting  the administration’s handling of the Jerusalem housing situation. It takes the Obami to task for “harsh and intentionally undiplomatic language to exacerbate tensions with our ally Israel in the wake of Vice President Biden’s visit there. The strident and unwarranted escalation of tension, which has turned a minor diplomatic embarrassment into a major international incident, has raised serious concerns about the administration’s Israel policy from a variety of mainstream voices.”

The more interesting question is where the president’s political allies will be on this. The National Democratic Jewish Council has been mute. (Recall that in the 1991, when George H.W. Bush cut off loan guarantees, prominent Republicans voiced opposition and introduced legislation to continue the guarantees.) Rep. Shelley Berkley has issued a robust condemnation. And over the weekend, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman had this to say at an appearance in Palm Beach:

“In every administration,” said Lieberman, “there are times when the US-Israeli relationship is not what it should be. But the guarantor of that relationship is the bipartisan, pro-Israel majority in Congress.

“It was a dust-up, a misunderstanding. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu has apologized, and the timing was unfortunate. But the second round of criticism is unproductive. I make one appeal – sometimes silence really is golden.

“Our enemies are common; let’s not let a mistake grow into a divisive dispute between members of the same family.”

In a brief private interview earlier, Lieberman expanded on his let-bygones-be-bygones point of view, saying, “Nothing good is going to happen in the Mideast without both the United States and Israel working together. That’s what we need to do, and the sooner the better.”

It will be interesting to see which, if any, Democrats put principle above party loyalty on this one. It would be better for all concerned if the administration retreated from its frenzied offensive, resumed the normal dialogue one has with a valued ally, and did not put further strain on its Democratic allies here at home, who, as John pointed out, have enough troubles this election year. That might be further evidence of just how harebrained was the gambit to begin with. But the first rule of politics is that when you’ve dug a hole, stop digging. The administration would be wise to listen to AIPAC, Lieberman, and Berkley, not to mention Republican critics, and figure out how to repair the damage wrought over the last few days.

UPDATE: Two other prominent Republicans have weighed in, both emphasizing the administration’s skewed priorities. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement:

Israel is an indispensable ally and friend of the United States. U.S. condemnations of Israel and threats regarding our bilateral relationship undermine both our allies and the peace process, while encouraging the enemies of America and Israel alike. I am also deeply concerned about the Administration’s softer approaches towards the Palestinian Authority, Syria, and Iran, which are being carried out in conjunction with hard-line tactics against our key democratic ally, Israel. Our nation’s security cannot afford a foreign policy which isolates our allies and moves towards appeasing enemies of the U.S.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., added this:

It’s hard to see how spending a weekend condemning Israel for a zoning decision in its capital city amounts to a positive step towards peace. Rather than launching verbal attacks on our staunch ally and friend, it would be far more worthwhile for this Administration to expend the effort planning for the transfer of our embassy to Jerusalem and tackling the growing Iranian nuclear threat.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, not unexpectedly, issued a lengthy statement blasting  the administration’s handling of the Jerusalem housing situation. It takes the Obami to task for “harsh and intentionally undiplomatic language to exacerbate tensions with our ally Israel in the wake of Vice President Biden’s visit there. The strident and unwarranted escalation of tension, which has turned a minor diplomatic embarrassment into a major international incident, has raised serious concerns about the administration’s Israel policy from a variety of mainstream voices.”

The more interesting question is where the president’s political allies will be on this. The National Democratic Jewish Council has been mute. (Recall that in the 1991, when George H.W. Bush cut off loan guarantees, prominent Republicans voiced opposition and introduced legislation to continue the guarantees.) Rep. Shelley Berkley has issued a robust condemnation. And over the weekend, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman had this to say at an appearance in Palm Beach:

“In every administration,” said Lieberman, “there are times when the US-Israeli relationship is not what it should be. But the guarantor of that relationship is the bipartisan, pro-Israel majority in Congress.

“It was a dust-up, a misunderstanding. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu has apologized, and the timing was unfortunate. But the second round of criticism is unproductive. I make one appeal – sometimes silence really is golden.

“Our enemies are common; let’s not let a mistake grow into a divisive dispute between members of the same family.”

In a brief private interview earlier, Lieberman expanded on his let-bygones-be-bygones point of view, saying, “Nothing good is going to happen in the Mideast without both the United States and Israel working together. That’s what we need to do, and the sooner the better.”

It will be interesting to see which, if any, Democrats put principle above party loyalty on this one. It would be better for all concerned if the administration retreated from its frenzied offensive, resumed the normal dialogue one has with a valued ally, and did not put further strain on its Democratic allies here at home, who, as John pointed out, have enough troubles this election year. That might be further evidence of just how harebrained was the gambit to begin with. But the first rule of politics is that when you’ve dug a hole, stop digging. The administration would be wise to listen to AIPAC, Lieberman, and Berkley, not to mention Republican critics, and figure out how to repair the damage wrought over the last few days.

UPDATE: Two other prominent Republicans have weighed in, both emphasizing the administration’s skewed priorities. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement:

Israel is an indispensable ally and friend of the United States. U.S. condemnations of Israel and threats regarding our bilateral relationship undermine both our allies and the peace process, while encouraging the enemies of America and Israel alike. I am also deeply concerned about the Administration’s softer approaches towards the Palestinian Authority, Syria, and Iran, which are being carried out in conjunction with hard-line tactics against our key democratic ally, Israel. Our nation’s security cannot afford a foreign policy which isolates our allies and moves towards appeasing enemies of the U.S.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., added this:

It’s hard to see how spending a weekend condemning Israel for a zoning decision in its capital city amounts to a positive step towards peace. Rather than launching verbal attacks on our staunch ally and friend, it would be far more worthwhile for this Administration to expend the effort planning for the transfer of our embassy to Jerusalem and tackling the growing Iranian nuclear threat.

Read Less




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