Commentary Magazine


Topic: Doug Pike

Flotsam and Jetsam

Congressional candidate Doug Pike explains why he’s dumping J Street and sending its money back: “I am also troubled by J Street’s position that Israel needs to end construction of any new housing units in East Jerusalem — an issue inflamed by the recent ill-timed announcement of a go-head for a 1600-unit project there. While this might seem an acceptable price for getting the Palestinians back to the bargaining table, underlying it is the Palestinians’ unrealistic hope of retaking control of East Jerusalem. Because I see Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, I do not like to hear loud voices in Washington — including top administration officials and J Street’s leadership — demanding an end to all housing construction in East Jerusalem.”

The Obami are uninterested in the really crippling sanctions (e.g., petroleum), so how much can Congress really do? Not much: “Rules without enforcement don’t mean much. That’s the new tone the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its supporters on Capitol Hill are taking when it comes to Iran sanctions. This week, congressional appropriators close to AIPAC moved to introduce enforcement language that would penalize federal agencies that contract with companies doing business with the Islamic Republic.”

And while we dawdle: “Six months after the revelation of a secret nuclear enrichment site in Iran, international inspectors and Western intelligence agencies say they suspect that Tehran is preparing to build more sites in defiance of United Nations demands. The United Nations inspectors assigned to monitor Iran’s nuclear program are now searching for evidence of two such sites, prompted by recent comments by a top Iranian official that drew little attention in the West, and are looking into a mystery about the whereabouts of recently manufactured uranium.”

Obama imagines he’s moving toward a nuclear-free world with a new START deal. Jamie Fly says there’s less than meets the eye: “In reality, the new agreement doesn’t achieve much — the Russians, unable to pay for their current nuclear forces, have already of their own volition cut the number of launchers to the treaty’s new level. The reductions of strategic deployed nuclear weapons are not that far below the levels obtained under the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The treaty also faces an uncertain future in the Senate. It is uncertain in part because the administration has only released limited information about the treaty’s details.”

Kathleen Parker gets this right on ObamaCare’s impact on abortion funding: “Prediction: Abortions will be performed at community health centers. You can bet your foreclosed mortgage on that. There was always a will by this administration, and now there’s a way.”

Another dose of ObamaCare reality: “Across the country, state officials are wading through the minutiae of the health care overhaul to understand just how their governments will be affected. Even with much still to be digested, it is clear the law may be as much of a burden to some state budgets as it is a boon to uninsured consumers.”

Whatever bounce Obama got in his approval ratings from passage of his signature legislative issue seems to have fizzled. But that’s nothing compared to the ratings for Congress – Pollster.com’s average pegs it at 78.1 percent disapproval and 11.7 percent approval. That’s worse than Gov. David Paterson.

Congressional candidate Doug Pike explains why he’s dumping J Street and sending its money back: “I am also troubled by J Street’s position that Israel needs to end construction of any new housing units in East Jerusalem — an issue inflamed by the recent ill-timed announcement of a go-head for a 1600-unit project there. While this might seem an acceptable price for getting the Palestinians back to the bargaining table, underlying it is the Palestinians’ unrealistic hope of retaking control of East Jerusalem. Because I see Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, I do not like to hear loud voices in Washington — including top administration officials and J Street’s leadership — demanding an end to all housing construction in East Jerusalem.”

The Obami are uninterested in the really crippling sanctions (e.g., petroleum), so how much can Congress really do? Not much: “Rules without enforcement don’t mean much. That’s the new tone the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its supporters on Capitol Hill are taking when it comes to Iran sanctions. This week, congressional appropriators close to AIPAC moved to introduce enforcement language that would penalize federal agencies that contract with companies doing business with the Islamic Republic.”

And while we dawdle: “Six months after the revelation of a secret nuclear enrichment site in Iran, international inspectors and Western intelligence agencies say they suspect that Tehran is preparing to build more sites in defiance of United Nations demands. The United Nations inspectors assigned to monitor Iran’s nuclear program are now searching for evidence of two such sites, prompted by recent comments by a top Iranian official that drew little attention in the West, and are looking into a mystery about the whereabouts of recently manufactured uranium.”

Obama imagines he’s moving toward a nuclear-free world with a new START deal. Jamie Fly says there’s less than meets the eye: “In reality, the new agreement doesn’t achieve much — the Russians, unable to pay for their current nuclear forces, have already of their own volition cut the number of launchers to the treaty’s new level. The reductions of strategic deployed nuclear weapons are not that far below the levels obtained under the 2002 Moscow Treaty. The treaty also faces an uncertain future in the Senate. It is uncertain in part because the administration has only released limited information about the treaty’s details.”

Kathleen Parker gets this right on ObamaCare’s impact on abortion funding: “Prediction: Abortions will be performed at community health centers. You can bet your foreclosed mortgage on that. There was always a will by this administration, and now there’s a way.”

Another dose of ObamaCare reality: “Across the country, state officials are wading through the minutiae of the health care overhaul to understand just how their governments will be affected. Even with much still to be digested, it is clear the law may be as much of a burden to some state budgets as it is a boon to uninsured consumers.”

Whatever bounce Obama got in his approval ratings from passage of his signature legislative issue seems to have fizzled. But that’s nothing compared to the ratings for Congress – Pollster.com’s average pegs it at 78.1 percent disapproval and 11.7 percent approval. That’s worse than Gov. David Paterson.

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J Street Loses a Congressional Recruit

Are liberal Democrats starting to be wary of the siren calls of J Street? This story from Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent shows that at least one congressional candidate has figured out that associating with the far-Left lobby can be dangerous for his political health.

The Exponent’s Bryan Schwartzman reports that Doug Pike, one of the contenders for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district, has “asked J Street officials this week to remove him from its list of 41 endorsed candidates, and said he’s planning to return some $6,000 donated via the group.” 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.”

Pike’s attempt to extricate himself from J Street’s death grip may or may not save his candidacy, but it ought to serve as a warning to other Democrats who assume that the group’s claim that it is within the mainstream is true. J Street representatives and other left-wingers have asserted that Obama’s 2008 victory — and his huge share of the Jewish vote — proved that mainstream pro-Israel groups like AIPAC no longer represented the community’s view. But, as Pike has found out, most rank-and-file Jewish Democrats, even those who call themselves liberals, do not support putting pressure on Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians and are appalled by the administration’s attack on Jewish rights in Jerusalem.

So is the White House, which has become even more brazen in its open contempt for the Israeli government, capable of understanding what Doug Pike has now discovered — that sooner or later, its attitude toward Israel, which is inspired in part by its misconception that J Street is representative of mainstream Jewish opinion, may be a huge political mistake?

Are liberal Democrats starting to be wary of the siren calls of J Street? This story from Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent shows that at least one congressional candidate has figured out that associating with the far-Left lobby can be dangerous for his political health.

The Exponent’s Bryan Schwartzman reports that Doug Pike, one of the contenders for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district, has “asked J Street officials this week to remove him from its list of 41 endorsed candidates, and said he’s planning to return some $6,000 donated via the group.” 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.”

Pike’s attempt to extricate himself from J Street’s death grip may or may not save his candidacy, but it ought to serve as a warning to other Democrats who assume that the group’s claim that it is within the mainstream is true. J Street representatives and other left-wingers have asserted that Obama’s 2008 victory — and his huge share of the Jewish vote — proved that mainstream pro-Israel groups like AIPAC no longer represented the community’s view. But, as Pike has found out, most rank-and-file Jewish Democrats, even those who call themselves liberals, do not support putting pressure on Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians and are appalled by the administration’s attack on Jewish rights in Jerusalem.

So is the White House, which has become even more brazen in its open contempt for the Israeli government, capable of understanding what Doug Pike has now discovered — that sooner or later, its attitude toward Israel, which is inspired in part by its misconception that J Street is representative of mainstream Jewish opinion, may be a huge political mistake?

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