Commentary Magazine


Topic: Emergency Committee for Israel

About That Imaginary Bibi-Bam Debate

Glenn Kessler, who writes the Washington Post’s Fact Checker column, is sometimes quite candid about political prevarication and sometimes he pretty much punts on issues. But today he can barely contain his wrath. The subject of his Four Pinocchio grade (which he says would be higher except for the fact that four is the maximum he can gives) was the Emergency Committee for Israel’s faux “debate” between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama.

The imaginary debate between the two men was part of a robo-call ad intended to take the president’s pro-Israel bona fides down a peg, and it cuts and splices actual quotes from the pair about subjects that were not contemporaneously expressed or even necessarily on exactly the same point. So Kessler’s contempt for the ad’s “accuracy” is in a sense justified. But ECI head — and occasional COMMENTARY contributor — Noah Pollack responded to Kessler’s inquiry with what the Post writer reports was a tongue-in-cheek answer, to the effect that he was attempting to track down more “secret” recordings of an imaginary event. That should have made it clear that the ad was, while not satire, clearly not intended to be interpreted as an actual face-to-face event. Though the quotes were taken out of context, it is fair to say that Kessler’s attempt to put them back into context is as misleading as ECI’s juxtapositions.

While the ad is egregious in the liberties it takes, the point it is attempting to illustrate about the contention between the two over the past four years is actually true. The stark disagreements between Obama and Netanyahu on Iran are not inventions of ECI.

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Glenn Kessler, who writes the Washington Post’s Fact Checker column, is sometimes quite candid about political prevarication and sometimes he pretty much punts on issues. But today he can barely contain his wrath. The subject of his Four Pinocchio grade (which he says would be higher except for the fact that four is the maximum he can gives) was the Emergency Committee for Israel’s faux “debate” between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama.

The imaginary debate between the two men was part of a robo-call ad intended to take the president’s pro-Israel bona fides down a peg, and it cuts and splices actual quotes from the pair about subjects that were not contemporaneously expressed or even necessarily on exactly the same point. So Kessler’s contempt for the ad’s “accuracy” is in a sense justified. But ECI head — and occasional COMMENTARY contributor — Noah Pollack responded to Kessler’s inquiry with what the Post writer reports was a tongue-in-cheek answer, to the effect that he was attempting to track down more “secret” recordings of an imaginary event. That should have made it clear that the ad was, while not satire, clearly not intended to be interpreted as an actual face-to-face event. Though the quotes were taken out of context, it is fair to say that Kessler’s attempt to put them back into context is as misleading as ECI’s juxtapositions.

While the ad is egregious in the liberties it takes, the point it is attempting to illustrate about the contention between the two over the past four years is actually true. The stark disagreements between Obama and Netanyahu on Iran are not inventions of ECI.

Kessler publishes the full text of Obama’s June 23, 2009 statement in which he finally said something about Iran’s violent suppression of dissent after weeks of ominous silence. The complete text does include some language expressing mild outrage about the Islamist regime’s atrocities, but the one line ECI published about “respecting the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and promising not to interfere is actually a better summation of Obama’s policy that the weasel words about how sad it was that they were doing beastly things. The president spent his first year in office futilely attempt to “engage” with Iran’s ayatollahs, and that is the reason the administration failed to speak out against the regime’s murder of dissidents on the streets of Tehran until it was over.

The second Obama quote in the call is one in which Obama acknowledges the differences between Israel and the United States. He was not, as Kessler rightly pointed out, referring at that time to Iran but to the many other issues on which Obama has picked fights with Israel’s government, such as settlements, borders and especially Jerusalem. Using that quote was not, strictly speaking, accurate. But it was also true.

This does open the sponsors of the call to the accusation of the old Dan Rather “fake but accurate” label, which is pretty much the opposite of a badge of honor. Lifting quotes out of context is unconscionable in journalism and hardly fair play even in political advertisements. But to say, as Kessler does, that ECI “twisted the meaning of Obama and Netanyahu’s words” is a point on which the group can easily defend itself. Obama and Netanyahu have clashed on Iran repeatedly — with the latest instance creating more than a few headlines in September — as they have on other issues.

Alas, 30- or 60-second political ads can never be the equal of COMMENTARY essays that require thousands of words. Even if you think ECI should not have been this cavalier with its quote selections, or if you don’t like the concept of an depicting a “debate” even if it was obviously fake, to assert that the substance of the call was a lie is absurd.

In another instance, one suspects that Kessler might have given the ad a lesser number of Pinocchios since the argument the out-of-context quotes were illustrating is a matter of record. We can only surmise that since, as the Post writer tells us, he was subjected to this robo-call in his own home, he allowed his temper to get the best of him.

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Obama Sold Out Israel to Turkey’s Islamists

The Emergency Committee for Israel has published the full version of its documentary Daylight, chronicling what happened after candidate Obama, who used to reference the U.S./Israel relationship as a “constant wound… this constant sore,” became President Obama, doggedly trying to detonate the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

A lot of people are going to focus on how the president intentionally delegitimized Israel and incompetently suffocated the peace process because of the now debunked theory that Israeli supermarket construction in Jerusalem causes cave-dwellers in Afghanistan to launch rockets and fanatics in Iran to build nuclear weapons. Ergo his repeated and one-sided diplomatic offensives against Israel over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which the documentary duly spends a lot of time exploring.

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The Emergency Committee for Israel has published the full version of its documentary Daylight, chronicling what happened after candidate Obama, who used to reference the U.S./Israel relationship as a “constant wound… this constant sore,” became President Obama, doggedly trying to detonate the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

A lot of people are going to focus on how the president intentionally delegitimized Israel and incompetently suffocated the peace process because of the now debunked theory that Israeli supermarket construction in Jerusalem causes cave-dwellers in Afghanistan to launch rockets and fanatics in Iran to build nuclear weapons. Ergo his repeated and one-sided diplomatic offensives against Israel over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which the documentary duly spends a lot of time exploring.

But don’t miss the middle of the video. Starting just before 15:00, it discusses Obama’s love affair with Turkey and Prime Minister Erdogan in the context of the Gaza flotilla. Israel may or may not make peace with the Palestinians, but nobody seriously believes a third violent intifada has the potential to spiral into a regional war. The damage Obama has done to our alliances and our posture in the eastern Mediterranean, in contrast, will reverberate for decades.

After the flotilla incident, Obama backed Erdogan’s demand that Israel make a groveling apology for defending itself against the Turkish-sponsored terrorists who were aboard the Mavi Marmara. The president even expelled Netanyahu from the White House when the Israeli prime minister tried to tell Israel’s side of the story, ordering him to return to the Middle East. The documentary has a few additional choice quotes from that period, some of which were surreal enough to make it into the trailer sizzle reel, and a rather pointed kicker.

Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu used the crisis as a thinly-veiled pretext to break off relations with Israel and increase Turkey’s naval footprint. Obama was either so naive that he accepted the pretext or so cynical that he was willing to attack Israel as if he accepted it.

Of course, Turkey didn’t actually want to restore relations with Israel. They had long planned to break off relations. The reason the AKP demanded the apology – per a later boastful speech by Davutoglu – was to force Israel to humiliatingly “kneel down” to Turkey.

And Turkey had always intended to expand its naval activities, which had nothing to do with the flotilla. Obama knew as much. Intimidating Israel, and harassing drillers around Cyprus and Greece, is part and parcel of the AKP’s broader neo-Ottoman push. The dynamic was explicitly flagged for Obama as early as 2009, per a Wikileak’d diplomatic cable. The Ottoman legacy itself is enjoying a popular resurgence in Turkey, and Davutoglu speaks openly to top Western reporters about “re-establish[ing Turkey’s] leadership in the Ottoman countries of the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia.” He has also predicted (Hebrew) that Israel will disappear as a Jewish state and reemerge as a Turkish-sponsored bi-national entity.

So Obama tried to coerce a democratic ally into abjectly humiliating itself in front of an Islamist enemy with absolutely no possibility of benefit. Figures:

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Wishing Thinking, Again, by the Gray Lady

There is a whole genre of New York Times front-page articles that can be called “wishful thinking by the left.” These pieces usually allege that some bad thing happening on the right — dissension, racism, etc. — but never quite get around to providing many (sometimes any) evidence thereof. Its “G.O.P. and Tea Party Are Mixed Blessing for Israel” is precisely this sort of piece.

You’d think the voluminous polling showing that conservatives and evangelicals support Israel to a much greater degree than do liberals and nonbelievers would cause the ostensible reporters to rethink their premise. The gap in support for Israel between Republicans and Democrats is apparent to everyone who has looked at this issue — except the Times reporters. And indeed, the only example the reporters can come up with on the Republican side is Rand Paul. No mention that it was exclusively Democrats who signed the Gaza 54 letter. No whiff that it was Republicans, led by Rep. Peter King, who went after Obama’s tepid support for Israel during the flotilla incident. No suggestion that it was Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer who pulled their punches while Obama condemned Israel for building in its capital. The real story, of course, is that Democrats’ support for Israel has been declining to an alarming degree and that the left is quite upset when groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel point this out.

In short, the Times story is bunk. The fact that there are so many anti-Israel Democrats (e.g., Joe Sestak, Mary Jo Kilroy, Kathy Dahlkemper) who lost is undiluted good news for Israel. The fact that exuberant friends of Israel like King will hold committee chairmanships is reason for Israel’s friends to celebrate. And the election of senators like Mark Kirk, Marco Rubio, and Dan Coats who have been boisterous defenders of the Jewish state and critics of the administration’s anemic approach toward Iran is more reason for Israel’s friends to cheer. In other words, Israel would be lucky to have many more “mixed blessings” like the 2010 midterms.

There is a whole genre of New York Times front-page articles that can be called “wishful thinking by the left.” These pieces usually allege that some bad thing happening on the right — dissension, racism, etc. — but never quite get around to providing many (sometimes any) evidence thereof. Its “G.O.P. and Tea Party Are Mixed Blessing for Israel” is precisely this sort of piece.

You’d think the voluminous polling showing that conservatives and evangelicals support Israel to a much greater degree than do liberals and nonbelievers would cause the ostensible reporters to rethink their premise. The gap in support for Israel between Republicans and Democrats is apparent to everyone who has looked at this issue — except the Times reporters. And indeed, the only example the reporters can come up with on the Republican side is Rand Paul. No mention that it was exclusively Democrats who signed the Gaza 54 letter. No whiff that it was Republicans, led by Rep. Peter King, who went after Obama’s tepid support for Israel during the flotilla incident. No suggestion that it was Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer who pulled their punches while Obama condemned Israel for building in its capital. The real story, of course, is that Democrats’ support for Israel has been declining to an alarming degree and that the left is quite upset when groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel point this out.

In short, the Times story is bunk. The fact that there are so many anti-Israel Democrats (e.g., Joe Sestak, Mary Jo Kilroy, Kathy Dahlkemper) who lost is undiluted good news for Israel. The fact that exuberant friends of Israel like King will hold committee chairmanships is reason for Israel’s friends to celebrate. And the election of senators like Mark Kirk, Marco Rubio, and Dan Coats who have been boisterous defenders of the Jewish state and critics of the administration’s anemic approach toward Iran is more reason for Israel’s friends to cheer. In other words, Israel would be lucky to have many more “mixed blessings” like the 2010 midterms.

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Polling, Shmolling

Daniel Halper takes us through some midterm-election polling conducted by J Street on Jews’ views of Obama, Bibi, and Obama’s handling of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. As he points out, there is reason to be skeptical of anything coming out of that outfit. In this case, not surprisingly, J Street’s poll numbers are out of whack with virtually every reputable poll on Jewish opinion.

J Street would have us believe that Jews approve of Obama’s performance by a 60 to 40 percent margin, and of his handling of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by a 53 to 47 percent margin. The J Streeters’ pollsters contend that American Jews favor Obama’s over Bibi’s handling of the Palestinian issue (51 percent to 49 percent). Even on its own terms, that’s not a ringing endorsement by overwhelmingly liberal Jews. But are these figures reliable? Let’s see how J Street’s latest offering compares with other polling.

The AJC found that 49 percent of U.S. Jews approve, while 45 percent disapprove, of Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, and 62 percent of American Jews approve and 27 percent disapprove of Bibi’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations. The AJC found that only 51 percent of Jews approve of Obama’s performance in general.

The McLaughlin poll conducted for the Emergency Committee for Israel found that only 52 percent of Jews approve of Obama’s overall performance.

The Brandeis study, using a much larger sample of Jewish opinion, found that only 25 percent of Jews approve of Obama’s handling of relations with Israel.

You get the picture. J Street’s polling data departs from virtually all other surveys we have seen of late. But then J Street’s other pronouncements — on its own funding and its involvement with Richard Goldstone — don’t resemble the truth either. At least the Soros-funded, not-actually-pro-Israel group is consistent in its relationship with the truth.

Daniel Halper takes us through some midterm-election polling conducted by J Street on Jews’ views of Obama, Bibi, and Obama’s handling of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. As he points out, there is reason to be skeptical of anything coming out of that outfit. In this case, not surprisingly, J Street’s poll numbers are out of whack with virtually every reputable poll on Jewish opinion.

J Street would have us believe that Jews approve of Obama’s performance by a 60 to 40 percent margin, and of his handling of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by a 53 to 47 percent margin. The J Streeters’ pollsters contend that American Jews favor Obama’s over Bibi’s handling of the Palestinian issue (51 percent to 49 percent). Even on its own terms, that’s not a ringing endorsement by overwhelmingly liberal Jews. But are these figures reliable? Let’s see how J Street’s latest offering compares with other polling.

The AJC found that 49 percent of U.S. Jews approve, while 45 percent disapprove, of Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, and 62 percent of American Jews approve and 27 percent disapprove of Bibi’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations. The AJC found that only 51 percent of Jews approve of Obama’s performance in general.

The McLaughlin poll conducted for the Emergency Committee for Israel found that only 52 percent of Jews approve of Obama’s overall performance.

The Brandeis study, using a much larger sample of Jewish opinion, found that only 25 percent of Jews approve of Obama’s handling of relations with Israel.

You get the picture. J Street’s polling data departs from virtually all other surveys we have seen of late. But then J Street’s other pronouncements — on its own funding and its involvement with Richard Goldstone — don’t resemble the truth either. At least the Soros-funded, not-actually-pro-Israel group is consistent in its relationship with the truth.

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More on How the Jewish Groups Did

The Emergency Committee for Israel’s executive director (and CONTENTIONS contributor), Noah Pollak, has released a statement:

Last night was a good night for the US-Israel relationship, with supporters of a strong alliance prevailing over a number of incumbents who had received financial and rhetorical support from anti-Israel groups. In Pennsylvania in particular, there was a close Senate race that resulted in the defeat of a candidate who had accused Israel of war crimes and helped raise money for an organization the FBI later called a front group for Hamas. ECI ran ads informing voters of that record, and no doubt many of those voters share our concerns. We are delighted with the result.

Meanwhile, the Republican Jewish Coalition points out that in 11 races in which RJC-supported candidates faced off against J Street–funded candidates, the RJC candidate came out on top in seven, including three Senate races.

It is important in trying to decipher all this to weed out the candidates who were always going to win and those who were never going to win. When you get down to competitive races, J Street proved to be no help to its chosen candidates and a great deal of trouble. In the future, do you think mainstream Democrats with a generally good record on Israel are going to take money from J Street? No. Why in the world would they? That will leave J Street with its hardened group of donors and the fringe Israel-bashers. Not so influential, I suppose. Maybe their big donor and his friend from Hong Kong will close up shop and spend their largess on groups that haven’t made themselves irrelevant.

The Emergency Committee for Israel’s executive director (and CONTENTIONS contributor), Noah Pollak, has released a statement:

Last night was a good night for the US-Israel relationship, with supporters of a strong alliance prevailing over a number of incumbents who had received financial and rhetorical support from anti-Israel groups. In Pennsylvania in particular, there was a close Senate race that resulted in the defeat of a candidate who had accused Israel of war crimes and helped raise money for an organization the FBI later called a front group for Hamas. ECI ran ads informing voters of that record, and no doubt many of those voters share our concerns. We are delighted with the result.

Meanwhile, the Republican Jewish Coalition points out that in 11 races in which RJC-supported candidates faced off against J Street–funded candidates, the RJC candidate came out on top in seven, including three Senate races.

It is important in trying to decipher all this to weed out the candidates who were always going to win and those who were never going to win. When you get down to competitive races, J Street proved to be no help to its chosen candidates and a great deal of trouble. In the future, do you think mainstream Democrats with a generally good record on Israel are going to take money from J Street? No. Why in the world would they? That will leave J Street with its hardened group of donors and the fringe Israel-bashers. Not so influential, I suppose. Maybe their big donor and his friend from Hong Kong will close up shop and spend their largess on groups that haven’t made themselves irrelevant.

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How Did the Jewish Groups Do?

We have seen, to the chagrin of the left, more attention in an off-year election on Israel than we get in most presidential races. The Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition have reasons to crow. ECI made Joe Sestak its top priority, featured him in its debut ad, and remained a thorn in his side throughout the race. The RJC spent an unprecedented amount of money on the race. These groups didn’t target Joe Sestak by accident or pick an easy race. Sestak was the quintessential faux pro-Israel liberal — touting his support for the Jewish state but signing onto the Gaza 54 letter, headlining for CAIR, and refusing to break with the president on his offensive against the Jewish state. For precisely these reasons, J Street made him its top priority. Sestak lost in a tough race. Was Israel a factor? In a close race, it is hard to say it wasn’t. The question for liberal Democrats is this: why take on the baggage of J Street for such little help and so many headaches?

J Street’s other Senate endorsees lost as well (Robin Carnahan and Russ Feingold). In the House races, their endorsees lost in 11 races. Shoe-in Democrats won in seven races that were not in doubt. However, once ECI targeted the NJ-12, that safe Dem seat became competitive, with Democratic Rep. Rush Holt eventually winning by seven points. Several races are still outstanding.

The election demonstrated two things. First, J Street is a weight around the necks of its selected candidates. Second, the voters, Jewish and not, heard more about Israel than in an ordinary midterm and dumped some of the worst Israel-bashers in the House, including Mary Jo Kilroy and Kathy Dahlkemper. The takeaway: voters remain overwhelmingly pro-Israel, and should candidates want to avoid the impression that they are not, they’d do well to steer clear of the foreign-funded J Street.

We have seen, to the chagrin of the left, more attention in an off-year election on Israel than we get in most presidential races. The Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition have reasons to crow. ECI made Joe Sestak its top priority, featured him in its debut ad, and remained a thorn in his side throughout the race. The RJC spent an unprecedented amount of money on the race. These groups didn’t target Joe Sestak by accident or pick an easy race. Sestak was the quintessential faux pro-Israel liberal — touting his support for the Jewish state but signing onto the Gaza 54 letter, headlining for CAIR, and refusing to break with the president on his offensive against the Jewish state. For precisely these reasons, J Street made him its top priority. Sestak lost in a tough race. Was Israel a factor? In a close race, it is hard to say it wasn’t. The question for liberal Democrats is this: why take on the baggage of J Street for such little help and so many headaches?

J Street’s other Senate endorsees lost as well (Robin Carnahan and Russ Feingold). In the House races, their endorsees lost in 11 races. Shoe-in Democrats won in seven races that were not in doubt. However, once ECI targeted the NJ-12, that safe Dem seat became competitive, with Democratic Rep. Rush Holt eventually winning by seven points. Several races are still outstanding.

The election demonstrated two things. First, J Street is a weight around the necks of its selected candidates. Second, the voters, Jewish and not, heard more about Israel than in an ordinary midterm and dumped some of the worst Israel-bashers in the House, including Mary Jo Kilroy and Kathy Dahlkemper. The takeaway: voters remain overwhelmingly pro-Israel, and should candidates want to avoid the impression that they are not, they’d do well to steer clear of the foreign-funded J Street.

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Freaking Out J Street

Washington Jewish Week reports that the Emergency Committee for Israel is making quite a splash:

In the past few months, ECI has made a name for itself by assaulting Democrats in hotly contested congressional races over their support for Israel — or lack thereof, as ECI sees it. …

“There is some reason for Democrats to be concerned,” said one Democratic political strategist who would speak only on background. ECI is “going about this in an intelligent way and it’s likely to have an impact.”

“In a marginal and close race” in a niche market, the source added, “they could certainly move the needle.”

The ads, which [executive director Noah]Pollak said will air “hundreds” of times on several networks, target Pennsylvania Senate hopeful, Rep. Joe Sestak (D) — whom ECI pegged as anti-Israel in a spot that ran during the National League Championship Series between the Phillies and Giants — as well as Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.).

The notion that, as an ECI spokesman put it, the “free ride is over” and candidates will actually be held accountable for their views, associations, and votes on Israel has left Democrats whimpering. Ira Forman, the former head of the  National Jewish Democratic Council, (who could never muster a single bad word about Obama’s assault on Israel) asserts: “Either [ECI] knows very little about what will drive Jewish votes… or they’re just cynical and this is a good opportunity for them to build their own political operation.” I actually don’t know what that means — the ECI operation obviously is designed to hold lawmakers accountable for their voting records on Israel. But Forman has a point that the left has so downgraded Israel as a priority that exposing a lawmaker’s anti-Israel voting record might not shake its followers free of the “sick addiction” to the Democratic party. But then again, the rest of American voters, including a fair number of Jews, are quite pro-Israel, so it does make a difference. Odd, isn’t it, however, that Forman assumes that ECI is only going after Jewish voters?

But the whine-a-thon really revs up when J Street’s policy director, Hadar Susskind, (I guess the credibility-challenged Jeremy Ben-Ami is at an undisclosed location these days) insists that “ECI’s primary function as not to defend Israel or sway voters, but to ‘scare legislators.'” Well, I imagine many of the J Street endorsees, including Joe Sestak, are scared because their votes and actions don’t match their pro-Israel labeling. Then Susskind comes up with this howler:

“I could list out two dozen Republicans in Congress who take a much more nuanced view on” the peace process, but can’t express it “because the majority of campaign support they get is from folks who are on the far-right, neo-conservative, Israel-right-or-wrong crowd,” Susskind said.

To adopt that view, he explained, would mean sacrificing already scant Jewish support. ECI’s “game is really to keep Republicans in line.”

These alleged GOP lawmakers can’t express that they are secretly “more nuanced”? (So how do we know they are?) Who are these people, tailgunner Susskind? Perhaps there is a list to wave before the cameras. And by the way, in case the J Street kids hadn’t noticed, J Street’s game is to hold all lawmakers accountable — including Democrats Sestak, Holt, and Tierney.

Washington Jewish Week reports that the Emergency Committee for Israel is making quite a splash:

In the past few months, ECI has made a name for itself by assaulting Democrats in hotly contested congressional races over their support for Israel — or lack thereof, as ECI sees it. …

“There is some reason for Democrats to be concerned,” said one Democratic political strategist who would speak only on background. ECI is “going about this in an intelligent way and it’s likely to have an impact.”

“In a marginal and close race” in a niche market, the source added, “they could certainly move the needle.”

The ads, which [executive director Noah]Pollak said will air “hundreds” of times on several networks, target Pennsylvania Senate hopeful, Rep. Joe Sestak (D) — whom ECI pegged as anti-Israel in a spot that ran during the National League Championship Series between the Phillies and Giants — as well as Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.).

The notion that, as an ECI spokesman put it, the “free ride is over” and candidates will actually be held accountable for their views, associations, and votes on Israel has left Democrats whimpering. Ira Forman, the former head of the  National Jewish Democratic Council, (who could never muster a single bad word about Obama’s assault on Israel) asserts: “Either [ECI] knows very little about what will drive Jewish votes… or they’re just cynical and this is a good opportunity for them to build their own political operation.” I actually don’t know what that means — the ECI operation obviously is designed to hold lawmakers accountable for their voting records on Israel. But Forman has a point that the left has so downgraded Israel as a priority that exposing a lawmaker’s anti-Israel voting record might not shake its followers free of the “sick addiction” to the Democratic party. But then again, the rest of American voters, including a fair number of Jews, are quite pro-Israel, so it does make a difference. Odd, isn’t it, however, that Forman assumes that ECI is only going after Jewish voters?

But the whine-a-thon really revs up when J Street’s policy director, Hadar Susskind, (I guess the credibility-challenged Jeremy Ben-Ami is at an undisclosed location these days) insists that “ECI’s primary function as not to defend Israel or sway voters, but to ‘scare legislators.'” Well, I imagine many of the J Street endorsees, including Joe Sestak, are scared because their votes and actions don’t match their pro-Israel labeling. Then Susskind comes up with this howler:

“I could list out two dozen Republicans in Congress who take a much more nuanced view on” the peace process, but can’t express it “because the majority of campaign support they get is from folks who are on the far-right, neo-conservative, Israel-right-or-wrong crowd,” Susskind said.

To adopt that view, he explained, would mean sacrificing already scant Jewish support. ECI’s “game is really to keep Republicans in line.”

These alleged GOP lawmakers can’t express that they are secretly “more nuanced”? (So how do we know they are?) Who are these people, tailgunner Susskind? Perhaps there is a list to wave before the cameras. And by the way, in case the J Street kids hadn’t noticed, J Street’s game is to hold all lawmakers accountable — including Democrats Sestak, Holt, and Tierney.

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Sestak Pounded on Foreign Policy

Depending on which poll you like, the Pennsylvania Senate race is either very close or not. But what is certain is that foreign policy is playing a more prominent role in this race than in just about any other contest.

Joe Sestak is being hit by the Republican Jewish Coalition for his support for KSM’s civilian trial. Meanwhile, the Emergency Committee for Israel is ramping up, having launched a new PAC. And Sestak is again front and center in the PAC’s debut ad, hitting him for keynoting for CAIR, signing the Gaza 54 letter, and refusing to sign a bipartisan letter in support of Israel.

So where are Sestak’s J Street backers? Well, it might be a bit dicey for the George Soros front group to go up on the air, especially with Obama hammering away at mysterious foreign money. It is telling that in the final two weeks of the campaign, Sestak’s extremism on Israel and foreign policy more generally remain a millstone around his neck. Once more we see that a J Street endorsement, or more specifically clinging to the J Street line, is about the worst thing to happen to a liberal candidate. Well, that and having Obama in the White House.

Depending on which poll you like, the Pennsylvania Senate race is either very close or not. But what is certain is that foreign policy is playing a more prominent role in this race than in just about any other contest.

Joe Sestak is being hit by the Republican Jewish Coalition for his support for KSM’s civilian trial. Meanwhile, the Emergency Committee for Israel is ramping up, having launched a new PAC. And Sestak is again front and center in the PAC’s debut ad, hitting him for keynoting for CAIR, signing the Gaza 54 letter, and refusing to sign a bipartisan letter in support of Israel.

So where are Sestak’s J Street backers? Well, it might be a bit dicey for the George Soros front group to go up on the air, especially with Obama hammering away at mysterious foreign money. It is telling that in the final two weeks of the campaign, Sestak’s extremism on Israel and foreign policy more generally remain a millstone around his neck. Once more we see that a J Street endorsement, or more specifically clinging to the J Street line, is about the worst thing to happen to a liberal candidate. Well, that and having Obama in the White House.

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Not Charming, Are They?

For those who imagine that the Obama team is finally “getting it” with regard to the Middle East or that it has taken to heart the complaints of Jewish supporters, it will be a surprise when the president and his crack diplomatic crew repeat precisely the same error and employ the identical tactics that have been their modus operandi for nearly two years.

Israel resumes building in its capital, in a “Jewish neighborhood.” (The term is objectionable, of course, because it implies Jews can’t live where they please.) This is not some remote “settlement.” This is the sort of building in Jerusalem that has gone on under multiple prime ministers. But the Obami are frustrated and embarrassed, so they double down, reiterating their insistence that Israel cough up more concessions (a building freeze) while the Palestinians freely announce they won’t be recognizing a “Jewish state.” This report explains:

“We were disappointed by the announcement of new tenders in east Jerusalem yesterday. It is contrary to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties,” said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley to assembled reporters at a weekly briefing.

However, Israel has already announced it won’t be reimposing a settlement freeze, certainly not in Jerusalem. The Obami are mute on whether the walk-out by Abbas is “contrary to [their] efforts” as well.

Now no nation can be less peeved than the U.S., so Jordan chirps up:

Jordan’s State Minister for Media Affairs and Communications Ali Ayed issued a statement condemning building plans, and calling on the international community to “stop Israeli provocations” and do whatever possible to resume and see through successful negotiations.

But things have changed here in the U.S. since the Obama team “condemned” such building last March. Obama now is politically toxic, the American Jewish community has had it with the bully-boy-ism, and liberal elected officials have discovered that there really is no there there on J Street (i.e., no alternative pro-Israel faction — other than Soros and the Hong Kong mystery gal — that approves of Obama’s approach).

Don’t take my word for it. A J Street endorsee and liberal Democrat Gary Ackerman blasts away in a statement:

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It is not a settlement. As such, the resumption of construction in Jerusalem is not a justification for a crisis, a showdown, a meltdown or even a hissy fit. Ramot and Pisgat Zeev are going to be part of Israel in any conceivable final status deal and to pretend otherwise is pointless.

As I have said, those who earlier complained about the inadequacy of Israel’s unilateral and uncompensated settlement freeze, who chose to waste those ten months instead of diving aggressively into direct talks on peace, cannot reasonably now turn around and complain that the end of the freeze and the resumption of Israeli construction in Jerusalem—Israel’s capital, and the singular geographic center of the hopes and aspirations of the Jewish people for three millennia—is either a shock or an insurmountable obstacle to  peace.

Israeli construction in Jerusalem, in two already well-established neighborhoods is neither a show of bad faith, nor a justification for avoiding negotiations aimed at achieving a final status agreement. The legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians are not going to be achieved by violence and they’re not going to be achieved by the equivalent of holding their breath until their lips turn blue. Direct negotiations are sole pathway to their goal and the sooner they recognize this fact, the better.”

I don’t think Soros is getting his money’s worth from Ackerman. He sounds like he’s echoing the position of the Emergency Committee for Israel.

As belated as Ackerman’s outspokenness may be, it is still welcomed. And it is, I would suggest, the silver lining in the Obama era. There is now the opportunity for Democrats to correct course and demonstrate that their pro-Israel bona fides are just as sound as their Republican colleagues. In the new Congress, perhaps Ackerman and other prominent Democrats (Chuck Schumer, Howard Berman, etc.) will cease carrying water for the Obama administration’s flawed Israel policy. The Congress has the power of the purse, the duty of oversight, and the ability to use resolutions and public statements to push back on the administration. All of that is long overdue. Let’s hope Ackerman’s reaction is the beginning of a trend and not simply pre-election political expediency.

For those who imagine that the Obama team is finally “getting it” with regard to the Middle East or that it has taken to heart the complaints of Jewish supporters, it will be a surprise when the president and his crack diplomatic crew repeat precisely the same error and employ the identical tactics that have been their modus operandi for nearly two years.

Israel resumes building in its capital, in a “Jewish neighborhood.” (The term is objectionable, of course, because it implies Jews can’t live where they please.) This is not some remote “settlement.” This is the sort of building in Jerusalem that has gone on under multiple prime ministers. But the Obami are frustrated and embarrassed, so they double down, reiterating their insistence that Israel cough up more concessions (a building freeze) while the Palestinians freely announce they won’t be recognizing a “Jewish state.” This report explains:

“We were disappointed by the announcement of new tenders in east Jerusalem yesterday. It is contrary to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties,” said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley to assembled reporters at a weekly briefing.

However, Israel has already announced it won’t be reimposing a settlement freeze, certainly not in Jerusalem. The Obami are mute on whether the walk-out by Abbas is “contrary to [their] efforts” as well.

Now no nation can be less peeved than the U.S., so Jordan chirps up:

Jordan’s State Minister for Media Affairs and Communications Ali Ayed issued a statement condemning building plans, and calling on the international community to “stop Israeli provocations” and do whatever possible to resume and see through successful negotiations.

But things have changed here in the U.S. since the Obama team “condemned” such building last March. Obama now is politically toxic, the American Jewish community has had it with the bully-boy-ism, and liberal elected officials have discovered that there really is no there there on J Street (i.e., no alternative pro-Israel faction — other than Soros and the Hong Kong mystery gal — that approves of Obama’s approach).

Don’t take my word for it. A J Street endorsee and liberal Democrat Gary Ackerman blasts away in a statement:

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It is not a settlement. As such, the resumption of construction in Jerusalem is not a justification for a crisis, a showdown, a meltdown or even a hissy fit. Ramot and Pisgat Zeev are going to be part of Israel in any conceivable final status deal and to pretend otherwise is pointless.

As I have said, those who earlier complained about the inadequacy of Israel’s unilateral and uncompensated settlement freeze, who chose to waste those ten months instead of diving aggressively into direct talks on peace, cannot reasonably now turn around and complain that the end of the freeze and the resumption of Israeli construction in Jerusalem—Israel’s capital, and the singular geographic center of the hopes and aspirations of the Jewish people for three millennia—is either a shock or an insurmountable obstacle to  peace.

Israeli construction in Jerusalem, in two already well-established neighborhoods is neither a show of bad faith, nor a justification for avoiding negotiations aimed at achieving a final status agreement. The legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians are not going to be achieved by violence and they’re not going to be achieved by the equivalent of holding their breath until their lips turn blue. Direct negotiations are sole pathway to their goal and the sooner they recognize this fact, the better.”

I don’t think Soros is getting his money’s worth from Ackerman. He sounds like he’s echoing the position of the Emergency Committee for Israel.

As belated as Ackerman’s outspokenness may be, it is still welcomed. And it is, I would suggest, the silver lining in the Obama era. There is now the opportunity for Democrats to correct course and demonstrate that their pro-Israel bona fides are just as sound as their Republican colleagues. In the new Congress, perhaps Ackerman and other prominent Democrats (Chuck Schumer, Howard Berman, etc.) will cease carrying water for the Obama administration’s flawed Israel policy. The Congress has the power of the purse, the duty of oversight, and the ability to use resolutions and public statements to push back on the administration. All of that is long overdue. Let’s hope Ackerman’s reaction is the beginning of a trend and not simply pre-election political expediency.

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ECI 1 – Soros Street 0

The leftist Tablet looks at the Senate race. The most interesting is Pennsylvania (h/t Ben Smith):

PENNSYLVANIA
Jewish candidate guy: Senator Arlen Specter (D).
People who are actually running: Joe Sestak (J Street) and Pat Toomey (Emergency Committee for Israel).
Who’s going to win? In general, a Gentile. In particular, Pat Toomey. In a way, Bill Kristol.
Why this is still a Jewish story: This race is kind of weird. Arlen Specter switched parties, robbing Republicans of their only Jewish senator, and then lost the Democratic primary to Joe Sestak. Then, with no Jewish candidates in the race, this became the surrogate electoral battleground for Israeli-American politics: Bill Kristol’s newly formed Pro-Israel, Pro-Committee Emergency Committee for Israel cut an ad attacking Sestak, and then the Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace, Iffy-Soros J Street made their own defending him.
Fun fact: Toomey’s press secretary, Nachama Soloveichik, is “an heir to America’s leading Orthodox rabbinic dynasty.”

It’s not so weird at all. As we’ve seen in recent polling, Israel enjoys broad bipartisan support. J Street does not. When ECI focused on this race, illuminating Sestak’s record, it illustrated both. Frankly, it’s weird that a Jewish magazine finds it peculiar that a race without a Jewish candidate could center on Israel. Perhaps it should take a look at the polls we’ve been examining. It seems the entire electorate of Pennsylvania has revealed itself to be part of the “Israel Lobby.” Only those who equate support for Israel solely with American Jewish political activity would fine this strange.

The leftist Tablet looks at the Senate race. The most interesting is Pennsylvania (h/t Ben Smith):

PENNSYLVANIA
Jewish candidate guy: Senator Arlen Specter (D).
People who are actually running: Joe Sestak (J Street) and Pat Toomey (Emergency Committee for Israel).
Who’s going to win? In general, a Gentile. In particular, Pat Toomey. In a way, Bill Kristol.
Why this is still a Jewish story: This race is kind of weird. Arlen Specter switched parties, robbing Republicans of their only Jewish senator, and then lost the Democratic primary to Joe Sestak. Then, with no Jewish candidates in the race, this became the surrogate electoral battleground for Israeli-American politics: Bill Kristol’s newly formed Pro-Israel, Pro-Committee Emergency Committee for Israel cut an ad attacking Sestak, and then the Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace, Iffy-Soros J Street made their own defending him.
Fun fact: Toomey’s press secretary, Nachama Soloveichik, is “an heir to America’s leading Orthodox rabbinic dynasty.”

It’s not so weird at all. As we’ve seen in recent polling, Israel enjoys broad bipartisan support. J Street does not. When ECI focused on this race, illuminating Sestak’s record, it illustrated both. Frankly, it’s weird that a Jewish magazine finds it peculiar that a race without a Jewish candidate could center on Israel. Perhaps it should take a look at the polls we’ve been examining. It seems the entire electorate of Pennsylvania has revealed itself to be part of the “Israel Lobby.” Only those who equate support for Israel solely with American Jewish political activity would fine this strange.

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It’s Not the “Right Wing” That Did in J Street

As I observed on Sunday, all but a select few among the hard-core left have abandoned any hope of rescuing J Street from its self-inflicted wounds. This is not, as Jeremy Ben-Ami would have us believe, a plot by the right to do him in just when the peace talks are at a critical point. (It truly is delusional to imagine that talks are at a critical point, and even more delusional to imagine that he is critical to the fate of the Middle East peace process.)

David Harris of the AJC is no right-winger. He does, however, represent mainstream American Jewish leadership:

David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said on Friday that J Street’s contact with Goldstone, coupled with last week’s revelation that it received funds from billionaire George Soros, an outspoken critic of Israeli policies on a number of occasions, undermined its stated mission of supporting the Jewish state.

“J Street has every right, of course, to express its viewpoint and lobby in Washington,” Harris wrote in an email. “But it arrogates to itself the right, from thousands of miles away, to determine what’s best for democratic Israel.

“In doing so, it espouses positions — e.g., ambiguity on the toxic Goldstone Report or prolonged hesitation to support legislative sanctions against a nuclear-aspiring Iran which seeks a world without Israel — that can only make one wonder what exactly it means, beyond the glib tag line, to be ‘pro- Israel.’”

Ben-Ami and his few defenders are incensed at having been exposed as marginal figures in American Jewry. They hid their connections and most egregious behavior (drafting Richard Goldstone’s defense and easing his way around Capitol Hill) because, at some level, they understood how toxic it all was. Now their worst fears have come true, and their lies have been revealed.

It is true that prominent conservatives at the Emergency Committee for Israel have made life miserable for J Street and the recipients of their campaign loot. But the J Streeters have merely proved what their critics have maintained from the get-go: that the premise of their organization — that there was a market for an alternative to the pro-Israel alliance that spanned from the AJC to AIPAC to CUFI — was fundamentally flawed. That alliance is not a “right-wing” phenomenon, any more than the avalanche of criticism falling on J Street is a right-wing plot.

It turns out that, as troublesome as the Obama era has been for American Jewry (not to mention Israel), a president as hostile as the current one and an organization as noxious as J Street have helped forge a degree of consensus in the Jewish community. American Jewish organizations may not agree on tone. They may have different levels of enthusiasm about the peace talks. But they agree on this: Israel is a democratic country entitled to make its own national-security decisions; efforts to delegitimize Israel, whether by Richard Goldstone or the UN Human Rights Council, should be roundly condemned; the U.S. does harm to itself and to its democratic ally Israel by distancing itself from the Jewish state; peace depends on putting an end to Palestinian rejectionism and terror; and the greatest threat to the Middle East and to the U.S. is a nuclear-armed Iran. That J Street stands outside this uncontroversial statement of common principles tells us why its run is over. And, of course, all that lying didn’t help.

As I observed on Sunday, all but a select few among the hard-core left have abandoned any hope of rescuing J Street from its self-inflicted wounds. This is not, as Jeremy Ben-Ami would have us believe, a plot by the right to do him in just when the peace talks are at a critical point. (It truly is delusional to imagine that talks are at a critical point, and even more delusional to imagine that he is critical to the fate of the Middle East peace process.)

David Harris of the AJC is no right-winger. He does, however, represent mainstream American Jewish leadership:

David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said on Friday that J Street’s contact with Goldstone, coupled with last week’s revelation that it received funds from billionaire George Soros, an outspoken critic of Israeli policies on a number of occasions, undermined its stated mission of supporting the Jewish state.

“J Street has every right, of course, to express its viewpoint and lobby in Washington,” Harris wrote in an email. “But it arrogates to itself the right, from thousands of miles away, to determine what’s best for democratic Israel.

“In doing so, it espouses positions — e.g., ambiguity on the toxic Goldstone Report or prolonged hesitation to support legislative sanctions against a nuclear-aspiring Iran which seeks a world without Israel — that can only make one wonder what exactly it means, beyond the glib tag line, to be ‘pro- Israel.’”

Ben-Ami and his few defenders are incensed at having been exposed as marginal figures in American Jewry. They hid their connections and most egregious behavior (drafting Richard Goldstone’s defense and easing his way around Capitol Hill) because, at some level, they understood how toxic it all was. Now their worst fears have come true, and their lies have been revealed.

It is true that prominent conservatives at the Emergency Committee for Israel have made life miserable for J Street and the recipients of their campaign loot. But the J Streeters have merely proved what their critics have maintained from the get-go: that the premise of their organization — that there was a market for an alternative to the pro-Israel alliance that spanned from the AJC to AIPAC to CUFI — was fundamentally flawed. That alliance is not a “right-wing” phenomenon, any more than the avalanche of criticism falling on J Street is a right-wing plot.

It turns out that, as troublesome as the Obama era has been for American Jewry (not to mention Israel), a president as hostile as the current one and an organization as noxious as J Street have helped forge a degree of consensus in the Jewish community. American Jewish organizations may not agree on tone. They may have different levels of enthusiasm about the peace talks. But they agree on this: Israel is a democratic country entitled to make its own national-security decisions; efforts to delegitimize Israel, whether by Richard Goldstone or the UN Human Rights Council, should be roundly condemned; the U.S. does harm to itself and to its democratic ally Israel by distancing itself from the Jewish state; peace depends on putting an end to Palestinian rejectionism and terror; and the greatest threat to the Middle East and to the U.S. is a nuclear-armed Iran. That J Street stands outside this uncontroversial statement of common principles tells us why its run is over. And, of course, all that lying didn’t help.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Bill Clinton sounds like he swallowed a eugenics textbook. “[T]he most delicious part of that [slur on the Russian immigrants to Israel] performance was his extraordinary—no, his fantastical, his risible, his marvelously ludicrous—foray into sociology, with the ranking of Israelis’ attitudes toward peace according to their national origins.” Yup, it sure was a “spurious, illiterate, and really amazingly racist lesson in Israeli politics.”

But it sounds like he has an excuse: a protein deficiency. But even if he had a chicken leg now and then, I suspect he’d still say dumb things.

Rush Holt sounds like an AIPAC board member. The Emergency Committee for Israel ( whaich ran ads against him) sure does get results.

Nancy Pelosi sounds loopier than usual. “The momentum is with us.” And what’s with the Evita Peron pose?

Eliot Spitzer sounds like he’s peddling himself as a guru to “the dirtiest, nastiest” politicians. He’s found his niche.

Obama sounds like he’s got a plan to flee the midterm election recriminations. He will finally get to Indonesia — in November.

Chris Christie sounds like he’s an overachiever. “Part of Gov. Chris Christie’s belt-tightening plan for New Jersey was the termination of $7.5 million in public funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.” He says he’s not interested in running for president, but that’s what Obama said in 2006. (It doesn’t get much better than this.)

Independents sound like Republicans these days. “In an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 58 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans said politics is making them angry, compared with 31 percent of Democrats who said so. … The figures are the latest cautionary note for Democrats, who face a Nov. 2 Election Day in which the sluggish economy and President Barack Obama’s tepid popularity give Republicans a strong chance to capture control of the House and perhaps the Senate. They also help explain why independents, who can be pivotal in many congressional races, prefer their GOP candidate over the Democrat by 52 percent to 36 percent — which grows to 62 percent to 29 percent among independents considered likeliest to vote.” Wait — 62 percent?!

Bill Clinton sounds like he swallowed a eugenics textbook. “[T]he most delicious part of that [slur on the Russian immigrants to Israel] performance was his extraordinary—no, his fantastical, his risible, his marvelously ludicrous—foray into sociology, with the ranking of Israelis’ attitudes toward peace according to their national origins.” Yup, it sure was a “spurious, illiterate, and really amazingly racist lesson in Israeli politics.”

But it sounds like he has an excuse: a protein deficiency. But even if he had a chicken leg now and then, I suspect he’d still say dumb things.

Rush Holt sounds like an AIPAC board member. The Emergency Committee for Israel ( whaich ran ads against him) sure does get results.

Nancy Pelosi sounds loopier than usual. “The momentum is with us.” And what’s with the Evita Peron pose?

Eliot Spitzer sounds like he’s peddling himself as a guru to “the dirtiest, nastiest” politicians. He’s found his niche.

Obama sounds like he’s got a plan to flee the midterm election recriminations. He will finally get to Indonesia — in November.

Chris Christie sounds like he’s an overachiever. “Part of Gov. Chris Christie’s belt-tightening plan for New Jersey was the termination of $7.5 million in public funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.” He says he’s not interested in running for president, but that’s what Obama said in 2006. (It doesn’t get much better than this.)

Independents sound like Republicans these days. “In an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 58 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans said politics is making them angry, compared with 31 percent of Democrats who said so. … The figures are the latest cautionary note for Democrats, who face a Nov. 2 Election Day in which the sluggish economy and President Barack Obama’s tepid popularity give Republicans a strong chance to capture control of the House and perhaps the Senate. They also help explain why independents, who can be pivotal in many congressional races, prefer their GOP candidate over the Democrat by 52 percent to 36 percent — which grows to 62 percent to 29 percent among independents considered likeliest to vote.” Wait — 62 percent?!

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Touchy, Touchy

The J Street gang has set up a “microsite” (a website with an itty-bitty following?) to attack the Emergency Committee for Israel. ECI board member Bill Kristol’s response: “I don’t WANT to speak for them!” Really, it’s a silly catchphrase. ECI is speaking for those friends of Israel who don’t buy into the notion that Israel-bashing is a pro-Israel activity. The real question is: whom does J Street speak for?

The site is revealing nevertheless. J Street’s purpose at the outset was to serve as an alternative to AIPAC (which takes wacky positions like defending Israel against the Goldstone Report, urging the administration to stop picking public fights with Israel, and reminding the public that settlements are a final-status question). J Street has been from the get-go and remains an anti-pro-Israel group with no significant constituency. Now it’s faced with an administration that has in effect rejected J Street’s advice (e.g., no preconditions for talks) and the likelihood that their highest profile endorsee, Joe Sestak, will not only be defeated but be damaged by the J Street association.

J Street’s problem is that its message (when not trying to water it down and make it indistinguishable from that of ECI and AIPAC) is so toxic that not even their endorsed candidates want to speak for them. So what to do and how to keep its donors and supporters happy? Go back to its bread and butter — attacking friends of Israel. It is a sign of just how desperate — and irrelevant — J Street has become.

The J Street gang has set up a “microsite” (a website with an itty-bitty following?) to attack the Emergency Committee for Israel. ECI board member Bill Kristol’s response: “I don’t WANT to speak for them!” Really, it’s a silly catchphrase. ECI is speaking for those friends of Israel who don’t buy into the notion that Israel-bashing is a pro-Israel activity. The real question is: whom does J Street speak for?

The site is revealing nevertheless. J Street’s purpose at the outset was to serve as an alternative to AIPAC (which takes wacky positions like defending Israel against the Goldstone Report, urging the administration to stop picking public fights with Israel, and reminding the public that settlements are a final-status question). J Street has been from the get-go and remains an anti-pro-Israel group with no significant constituency. Now it’s faced with an administration that has in effect rejected J Street’s advice (e.g., no preconditions for talks) and the likelihood that their highest profile endorsee, Joe Sestak, will not only be defeated but be damaged by the J Street association.

J Street’s problem is that its message (when not trying to water it down and make it indistinguishable from that of ECI and AIPAC) is so toxic that not even their endorsed candidates want to speak for them. So what to do and how to keep its donors and supporters happy? Go back to its bread and butter — attacking friends of Israel. It is a sign of just how desperate — and irrelevant — J Street has become.

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J Street Responds

J Street has answered the questions posed by the Emergency Committee for Israel. On whether any old two-state solution will do, J Street declares:

J Street does agree that both states in a two-state solution that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be stable, peace-loving and anti-terrorist. … We’re also very clear that, no, we don’t support the two-state solution no matter the character and borders of the two states. We believe that both states have to be secure, viable and contiguous. That means not simply that Israel’s security must be assured in a two-state deal — that’s a given, and no Israeli government would or should agree to a deal that doesn’t guarantee security. But it’s also in Israel’s interest to ensure that the future Palestinian state is viable and sustainable and offers the Palestinian people a future with dignity, not a half-state that breeds further violence and discontent.

We support a two-state solution built on the 1967 borders with equal land swaps and in which the Jewish and Arab sections of Jerusalem are capitals respectively of Israel and the new Palestinian state.

Well, how is that all that different from those wacky kids at the ECI? In fact, what’s so special about J Street if it is going to mimic the mainstream Jewish position? Well, maybe there is a loophole here. The J Street statement didn’t exactly say it would be a Jewish state. And what if the 1967 borders are no longer a viable dividing line? And, of course, the J Street gang has decided to divide Jerusalem. What if Israelis don’t want to, or what if that makes a two-state solution nonviable? The “solution,” I suspect, is just to issue an ultimatum.

The second answer is more candid and revealing. On whether it “support[s] peace and security for Israel in the absence of a Palestinian state,” the answer is apparently no. “Further, we do not see a formula for ensuring peace and security for Israel or its survival as a Jewish and democratic home over the coming generation without a two-state solution.”

And to prove it, the J Streeters launch a half-hearted attempt to justify the Gaza 54 letter, which accused Israel of perpetrating a great injustice (“collective punishment”) on Palestinians by maintaining a blockade to prevent from entering Gaza materials that would be used to maim and kill Israelis.

This highlights a dilemma for J Street that has hobbled the group since it was founded by George Soros. If it repeats the pablum of mainstream Jewish groups, why is J Street needed? And if it shows its true colors — helping Richard Goldstone draft a defense, cheering on the UN Human Rights Commission, allying themselves with apologists for the Iranian regime, seeking to oust Dennis Ross — then it risks alienating all but the solidly anti-Zionist fringe.

J Street has answered the questions posed by the Emergency Committee for Israel. On whether any old two-state solution will do, J Street declares:

J Street does agree that both states in a two-state solution that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be stable, peace-loving and anti-terrorist. … We’re also very clear that, no, we don’t support the two-state solution no matter the character and borders of the two states. We believe that both states have to be secure, viable and contiguous. That means not simply that Israel’s security must be assured in a two-state deal — that’s a given, and no Israeli government would or should agree to a deal that doesn’t guarantee security. But it’s also in Israel’s interest to ensure that the future Palestinian state is viable and sustainable and offers the Palestinian people a future with dignity, not a half-state that breeds further violence and discontent.

We support a two-state solution built on the 1967 borders with equal land swaps and in which the Jewish and Arab sections of Jerusalem are capitals respectively of Israel and the new Palestinian state.

Well, how is that all that different from those wacky kids at the ECI? In fact, what’s so special about J Street if it is going to mimic the mainstream Jewish position? Well, maybe there is a loophole here. The J Street statement didn’t exactly say it would be a Jewish state. And what if the 1967 borders are no longer a viable dividing line? And, of course, the J Street gang has decided to divide Jerusalem. What if Israelis don’t want to, or what if that makes a two-state solution nonviable? The “solution,” I suspect, is just to issue an ultimatum.

The second answer is more candid and revealing. On whether it “support[s] peace and security for Israel in the absence of a Palestinian state,” the answer is apparently no. “Further, we do not see a formula for ensuring peace and security for Israel or its survival as a Jewish and democratic home over the coming generation without a two-state solution.”

And to prove it, the J Streeters launch a half-hearted attempt to justify the Gaza 54 letter, which accused Israel of perpetrating a great injustice (“collective punishment”) on Palestinians by maintaining a blockade to prevent from entering Gaza materials that would be used to maim and kill Israelis.

This highlights a dilemma for J Street that has hobbled the group since it was founded by George Soros. If it repeats the pablum of mainstream Jewish groups, why is J Street needed? And if it shows its true colors — helping Richard Goldstone draft a defense, cheering on the UN Human Rights Commission, allying themselves with apologists for the Iranian regime, seeking to oust Dennis Ross — then it risks alienating all but the solidly anti-Zionist fringe.

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Friends, Enemies, and Liberal Inanity

In reviewing the latest Emergency Committee for Israel ad and the coverage thereof, the New Jersey Jewish News editor in chief pronounces: “I think it is possible to be a friend of Israel, on the right or the left, and still take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests.” There’s no typo, and that’s what he said. Is he mocking the J Street set? Is this a coy parody of the not-at-all-pro-Israel set? No, he apparently is quite serious that a “friend” can want you dead or hobbled and still be a “friend.” Sort of like an enemy but more friendly-like.

He continues: “If Israel weren’t complicated, and its citizenry itself so divided over the issues, this thing would have been solved decades ago. Good friends can disagree.” Actually there’s quite a lot of agreement in Israel these days — land for peace was a bust, Iran is an existential threat, the Palestinians don’t want peace, and Obama isn’t a friend (in the old-fashioned sense). And this thing wouldn’t have been solved long ago, because Palestinians still are killing Jews and pining for the one-state solution.

And in a final tour de force of moral relativism, he sums up: “I just wish we could talk about it without labeling one another ‘enemies’ or ‘friends.’ But then I’m not trying to win elections.” Because if we start labeling who is a friend and who isn’t, we’ll know who is a friend-friend and who is an enemy-friend, right? He’s not only trying not to win elections; he’s trying not to exercise his God-given powers of moral reasoning and whatever common sense has not dribbled out on the altar of “tolerance.”

This is the best and brightest of New Jersey’s Jewish press, it seems. I would despair over yet another example of the inanity of liberal American Jewry, but thankfully not all Jews are quite this daft. And best of all, Israel has legions of supporters who have no problem calling it like they see it and figuring our who’s on the Jewish state’s side. Contrast the above drivel with this:

But while we don’t presume to dictate to Israel’s government, we have every right – and every responsibility – to speak to our own government. We have every right to demand that our government not pressure Israel into making concessions that the Israelis themselves do not wish to make. If history proves one thing, it proves that Israelis want peace so desperately that they will place themselves in peril to achieve it. If the Israelis are not willing to take a particular risk, this is a strong sign it is not a reasonable risk to take.

That sounds like a true friend — in the doesn’t-want-Israel-decimated sense of “friend.”

In reviewing the latest Emergency Committee for Israel ad and the coverage thereof, the New Jersey Jewish News editor in chief pronounces: “I think it is possible to be a friend of Israel, on the right or the left, and still take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests.” There’s no typo, and that’s what he said. Is he mocking the J Street set? Is this a coy parody of the not-at-all-pro-Israel set? No, he apparently is quite serious that a “friend” can want you dead or hobbled and still be a “friend.” Sort of like an enemy but more friendly-like.

He continues: “If Israel weren’t complicated, and its citizenry itself so divided over the issues, this thing would have been solved decades ago. Good friends can disagree.” Actually there’s quite a lot of agreement in Israel these days — land for peace was a bust, Iran is an existential threat, the Palestinians don’t want peace, and Obama isn’t a friend (in the old-fashioned sense). And this thing wouldn’t have been solved long ago, because Palestinians still are killing Jews and pining for the one-state solution.

And in a final tour de force of moral relativism, he sums up: “I just wish we could talk about it without labeling one another ‘enemies’ or ‘friends.’ But then I’m not trying to win elections.” Because if we start labeling who is a friend and who isn’t, we’ll know who is a friend-friend and who is an enemy-friend, right? He’s not only trying not to win elections; he’s trying not to exercise his God-given powers of moral reasoning and whatever common sense has not dribbled out on the altar of “tolerance.”

This is the best and brightest of New Jersey’s Jewish press, it seems. I would despair over yet another example of the inanity of liberal American Jewry, but thankfully not all Jews are quite this daft. And best of all, Israel has legions of supporters who have no problem calling it like they see it and figuring our who’s on the Jewish state’s side. Contrast the above drivel with this:

But while we don’t presume to dictate to Israel’s government, we have every right – and every responsibility – to speak to our own government. We have every right to demand that our government not pressure Israel into making concessions that the Israelis themselves do not wish to make. If history proves one thing, it proves that Israelis want peace so desperately that they will place themselves in peril to achieve it. If the Israelis are not willing to take a particular risk, this is a strong sign it is not a reasonable risk to take.

That sounds like a true friend — in the doesn’t-want-Israel-decimated sense of “friend.”

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RE: Speaking of Pro-Israel

The Emergency Committee for Israel responded to the J Street gang’s inquiries late yesterday. Spokesman Michael Goldfarb went through the questions one by one (my comments in brackets):

“Always happy to guide the perplexed” [Bonus points for Maimonides reference], Goldfarb wrote, before taking on J Street. …

“Question: “ECI refuses to take a position on the two-state solution. But two-thirds of Israelis and American Jews support it. The last four prime ministers of Israel have. Will ECI stop hiding its true colors on the only possible way to achieve real peace and security for Israel as a Jewish, democratic homeland?”

Answer: ECI supports a two-state solution if Israel has defensible borders [not 1967 borders, obviously] and if the Palestinian state is stable, peace-loving [which isn’t remotely in the cards, but we all should have goals] and anti-terrorist [like Sweden]. ECI does not support a “two-state solution” if one of the states is to be a terrorist state. And, yes, ECI believes there can be peace and security for Israel without having yet achieved a two-state solution. [It would help if the U.S. president were less overtly hostile, of course.]

Question: “Does ECI support the new peace talks starting this week, built on the notion that it should be possible to achieve a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?”

Answer: Yes. [“Notion” is a good way of putting it.]

Question: “Do they support the governments of Israel and of the United States in doing what they can to make them successful?”

Answer: Yes, if “success” means real peace and security. No, if “success” means the Obama administration [with J Street’s blessing] pressuring Israel to make concessions that would strengthen anti-Israel extremists, weaken Israel’s security, decrease the chances of real peace, and lead to a terrorist state on Israel’s borders. [In other words, why would Israel trust the Obama administration, which has been indifferent or unhelpful on all these points?]

He then asks two pointed questions: “Does J Street support a two-state solution no matter what the character and borders of both states? Does J Street support peace and security for Israel in the absence of a Palestinian state?” The first is a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose proposition, because the J Street leftists get flummoxed by the notion of a “Jewish” state — no, really, they do. But if they actually said so or hedged to keep their anti-nationalist, anti-Zionist supporters and followers from hollering at them, they’d tip their hand that they are way outside the mainstream. The next is also a gotcha — because J Street has for some time argued that the two-state solution is essential to Israel’s security, sidestepping the current needs of the Jewish state to defend itself.

Now this has the makings of a lively and healthy debate. How about a real one — you know Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben-Ami vs. a couple of the ECI team? Oh, it’d be lots and lots of fun. The J Streeters can even bring along  Stephen Walt and  John Mearsheimer for intellectual and moral support, of course.

The Emergency Committee for Israel responded to the J Street gang’s inquiries late yesterday. Spokesman Michael Goldfarb went through the questions one by one (my comments in brackets):

“Always happy to guide the perplexed” [Bonus points for Maimonides reference], Goldfarb wrote, before taking on J Street. …

“Question: “ECI refuses to take a position on the two-state solution. But two-thirds of Israelis and American Jews support it. The last four prime ministers of Israel have. Will ECI stop hiding its true colors on the only possible way to achieve real peace and security for Israel as a Jewish, democratic homeland?”

Answer: ECI supports a two-state solution if Israel has defensible borders [not 1967 borders, obviously] and if the Palestinian state is stable, peace-loving [which isn’t remotely in the cards, but we all should have goals] and anti-terrorist [like Sweden]. ECI does not support a “two-state solution” if one of the states is to be a terrorist state. And, yes, ECI believes there can be peace and security for Israel without having yet achieved a two-state solution. [It would help if the U.S. president were less overtly hostile, of course.]

Question: “Does ECI support the new peace talks starting this week, built on the notion that it should be possible to achieve a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?”

Answer: Yes. [“Notion” is a good way of putting it.]

Question: “Do they support the governments of Israel and of the United States in doing what they can to make them successful?”

Answer: Yes, if “success” means real peace and security. No, if “success” means the Obama administration [with J Street’s blessing] pressuring Israel to make concessions that would strengthen anti-Israel extremists, weaken Israel’s security, decrease the chances of real peace, and lead to a terrorist state on Israel’s borders. [In other words, why would Israel trust the Obama administration, which has been indifferent or unhelpful on all these points?]

He then asks two pointed questions: “Does J Street support a two-state solution no matter what the character and borders of both states? Does J Street support peace and security for Israel in the absence of a Palestinian state?” The first is a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose proposition, because the J Street leftists get flummoxed by the notion of a “Jewish” state — no, really, they do. But if they actually said so or hedged to keep their anti-nationalist, anti-Zionist supporters and followers from hollering at them, they’d tip their hand that they are way outside the mainstream. The next is also a gotcha — because J Street has for some time argued that the two-state solution is essential to Israel’s security, sidestepping the current needs of the Jewish state to defend itself.

Now this has the makings of a lively and healthy debate. How about a real one — you know Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben-Ami vs. a couple of the ECI team? Oh, it’d be lots and lots of fun. The J Streeters can even bring along  Stephen Walt and  John Mearsheimer for intellectual and moral support, of course.

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Speaking of Pro-Israel. . .

As I noted, the notion that voters and advocacy groups should actually hold officials and candidates responsible for their records on Israel, along with other matters of public policy, sends shivers down the spine of the left.

So, on cue, J Street pops its head out to launch an ad hominem attack on the Emergency Committee for Israel. Just a bunch of right-wingers! They won’t take a stance on a two-state solution! But what about the ads and the records of liberal lawmakers who self-label as “pro-Israel” but are in lockstep with CAIR? What about candidates who think the UN Commission on Human Rights does a swell job or who love the notion of a two-state solution so much that they want one imposed? Nothing about any of that. The name of the game for J Street and other leftist critics of Israel is to keep the focus off the records of those who aren’t all that pro-Israel. Make it about ECI. Make it about conservative pundits. Anything. But just don’t make it about voting records. (You know, J Street started things with endorsing leftist Israel-bashers, so it’s odd that now they’re being so fussy about making Israel a campaign issue.)

Meanwhile, if you want to talk about being pro-Israel, there is this rather charming account by the head of Jews for Palin about a Shabbat evening with the former governor, whose office displayed the Israeli flag. She doesn’t leave anyone confused about where she stands:

Although 65 years have passed since the Holocaust, the threat of genocide still hangs over the Jewish people — and again from Persia. Iran openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas, with its charter calling for the extermination of the Jewish State, fires rockets at Israeli schoolchildren. Syria races to build chemical and biological weapons to use against Israel. Mrs. Palin makes it clear that she recognizes these threats to America’s ally, Israel, and wants to end them. And she minced no words in her remarks to the Pennsylvania Family Institute, criticizing the Obama administration for “coddling our enemies while abandoning our treasured ally, Israel.”

On her lapel, she wore a pin showing the American and Israeli flags intertwined.

Somehow, that doesn’t “count” with liberal Jews because, well … because it’s not clear. What is clear is that she has a deep emotional and religious bond with the Jewish people:

As we enjoyed our Shabbat meal, we listened to Mrs. Palin’s references to “Judeo-Christian values” — a concept well understood by the deeply religious Christian audience with whom we shared the evening, including more than a few Amish ladies wearing their traditional bonnets. Mrs. Palin spoke of how the family is the building block of society and how strong families mean a strong nation. She did not suggest that Democrats do not share the attachment to family. But she warned that the most immediate threat to American families is the administration’s economic policies, which will burden our children’s generation with crushing, inescapable debt.

Such a wacky Christian, right? Probably believes Jews have a biblical claim to the Land of Israel. Really out-there stuff, huh?

You see, if she takes her Christianity seriously, she also takes the survival of the Jewish people seriously:

Mrs. Palin received the Hebrew volume with obvious delight; she has used the biblical Book of Esther as bedtime reading material for her eight year old daughter Piper. She wants Piper to emulate Esther, Jewish history’s great heroine, who risked everything to save the Jewish people from Haman’s plan for genocide.

If only more American Jews would read the Esther story at bedtime to their kids, right?

As I noted, the notion that voters and advocacy groups should actually hold officials and candidates responsible for their records on Israel, along with other matters of public policy, sends shivers down the spine of the left.

So, on cue, J Street pops its head out to launch an ad hominem attack on the Emergency Committee for Israel. Just a bunch of right-wingers! They won’t take a stance on a two-state solution! But what about the ads and the records of liberal lawmakers who self-label as “pro-Israel” but are in lockstep with CAIR? What about candidates who think the UN Commission on Human Rights does a swell job or who love the notion of a two-state solution so much that they want one imposed? Nothing about any of that. The name of the game for J Street and other leftist critics of Israel is to keep the focus off the records of those who aren’t all that pro-Israel. Make it about ECI. Make it about conservative pundits. Anything. But just don’t make it about voting records. (You know, J Street started things with endorsing leftist Israel-bashers, so it’s odd that now they’re being so fussy about making Israel a campaign issue.)

Meanwhile, if you want to talk about being pro-Israel, there is this rather charming account by the head of Jews for Palin about a Shabbat evening with the former governor, whose office displayed the Israeli flag. She doesn’t leave anyone confused about where she stands:

Although 65 years have passed since the Holocaust, the threat of genocide still hangs over the Jewish people — and again from Persia. Iran openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas, with its charter calling for the extermination of the Jewish State, fires rockets at Israeli schoolchildren. Syria races to build chemical and biological weapons to use against Israel. Mrs. Palin makes it clear that she recognizes these threats to America’s ally, Israel, and wants to end them. And she minced no words in her remarks to the Pennsylvania Family Institute, criticizing the Obama administration for “coddling our enemies while abandoning our treasured ally, Israel.”

On her lapel, she wore a pin showing the American and Israeli flags intertwined.

Somehow, that doesn’t “count” with liberal Jews because, well … because it’s not clear. What is clear is that she has a deep emotional and religious bond with the Jewish people:

As we enjoyed our Shabbat meal, we listened to Mrs. Palin’s references to “Judeo-Christian values” — a concept well understood by the deeply religious Christian audience with whom we shared the evening, including more than a few Amish ladies wearing their traditional bonnets. Mrs. Palin spoke of how the family is the building block of society and how strong families mean a strong nation. She did not suggest that Democrats do not share the attachment to family. But she warned that the most immediate threat to American families is the administration’s economic policies, which will burden our children’s generation with crushing, inescapable debt.

Such a wacky Christian, right? Probably believes Jews have a biblical claim to the Land of Israel. Really out-there stuff, huh?

You see, if she takes her Christianity seriously, she also takes the survival of the Jewish people seriously:

Mrs. Palin received the Hebrew volume with obvious delight; she has used the biblical Book of Esther as bedtime reading material for her eight year old daughter Piper. She wants Piper to emulate Esther, Jewish history’s great heroine, who risked everything to save the Jewish people from Haman’s plan for genocide.

If only more American Jews would read the Esther story at bedtime to their kids, right?

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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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Flotsam and Jetsam

The Emergency Committee for Israel wonders how it is that Joe Sestak can claim to be pro-Israel but accept Chuck Hagel’s endorsement. “Today’s endorsement of Joe Sestak by one of the leading anti-Israel politicians in the United States again exposes the danger a Senator Sestak would pose to the U.S.-Israel alliance. He claims to be pro-Israel, but his actions — whether fundraising for CAIR, or signing a letter that criticizes Israel for defending herself from Hamas, or seeking the endorsement of a former Senator who is notorious for his hostility to Israel — tells voters all they need to know about the kind of Senator Joe Sestak would be.”

You wonder how the left is going to defend Imam Rauf as “moderate” now.

Andy McCarthy wonders how a “one state solution” is a moderate position for Rauf. But your tax dollars are paying to send him overseas!

You wonder if Hillary would even settle for a VP slot on the ticket in 2012: “Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters now regard President Obama’s political views as extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) place his views in the mainstream, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. By comparison, 51% see the views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as mainstream. Thirty-five percent (35%) think Clinton’s views are extreme.” Maybe something like: “Clinton-Dean 2012, the electable wing of the Democratic Party”?

You wonder how John Brennan deals with a crisis when he can’t handle moderately probing questions from a newspaper editorial board. Awkward, as they say. (h/t Quin Hillyer)

You wonder what Justice Kagan thinks about this: “A U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction on Monday stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, in a slap to the Obama administration’s new guidelines on the sensitive issue. The court ruled in favor of a suit filed in June by researchers who said human embryonic stem cell research involved the destruction of human embryos. Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.” Let’s hope she’s ethical enough to recuse herself if it gets to the Supreme Court.

You wonder what Dick Durbin is thinking. “The second-ranking Senate Democrat broke ranks with his party’s leader this weekend by announcing his support for the Lower Manhattan Islamic center and mosque. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said Sunday that those who are opposed to the mosque are trying to divide the country with fear and hate.” That’s a rather harsh thing to say about Harry Reid and Howard Dean.

The Emergency Committee for Israel wonders how it is that Joe Sestak can claim to be pro-Israel but accept Chuck Hagel’s endorsement. “Today’s endorsement of Joe Sestak by one of the leading anti-Israel politicians in the United States again exposes the danger a Senator Sestak would pose to the U.S.-Israel alliance. He claims to be pro-Israel, but his actions — whether fundraising for CAIR, or signing a letter that criticizes Israel for defending herself from Hamas, or seeking the endorsement of a former Senator who is notorious for his hostility to Israel — tells voters all they need to know about the kind of Senator Joe Sestak would be.”

You wonder how the left is going to defend Imam Rauf as “moderate” now.

Andy McCarthy wonders how a “one state solution” is a moderate position for Rauf. But your tax dollars are paying to send him overseas!

You wonder if Hillary would even settle for a VP slot on the ticket in 2012: “Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters now regard President Obama’s political views as extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) place his views in the mainstream, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. By comparison, 51% see the views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as mainstream. Thirty-five percent (35%) think Clinton’s views are extreme.” Maybe something like: “Clinton-Dean 2012, the electable wing of the Democratic Party”?

You wonder how John Brennan deals with a crisis when he can’t handle moderately probing questions from a newspaper editorial board. Awkward, as they say. (h/t Quin Hillyer)

You wonder what Justice Kagan thinks about this: “A U.S. district court issued a preliminary injunction on Monday stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, in a slap to the Obama administration’s new guidelines on the sensitive issue. The court ruled in favor of a suit filed in June by researchers who said human embryonic stem cell research involved the destruction of human embryos. Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.” Let’s hope she’s ethical enough to recuse herself if it gets to the Supreme Court.

You wonder what Dick Durbin is thinking. “The second-ranking Senate Democrat broke ranks with his party’s leader this weekend by announcing his support for the Lower Manhattan Islamic center and mosque. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said Sunday that those who are opposed to the mosque are trying to divide the country with fear and hate.” That’s a rather harsh thing to say about Harry Reid and Howard Dean.

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Another Liberal with Radical Ties (Part Two)

Joe Sestak’s answers on the questionnaire from the extremist group Citizens for Global Solutions on a range of foreign-policy issues reveal him to be to the left of the vast majority of Americans, even the president. The entire questionnaire should be read in full, but some items are particularly noteworthy. It starts out this way:

Within the last decade, the U.S. role in the geopolitical landscape has shifted away from being seen as a constructive leader. What role do you believe the U.S. should play in the world today?

After eight years of counterproductive, unilateral policies under President Bush, I believe it is time once again for the United States to be a true leader on the world stage and to engage with other states, including those with interests which may be adverse to our own. I have supported President Obama’s efforts to engage with rogue states such as Iran and his efforts to reassert our role as a leader in multilateral forums, such as the United Nations. I strongly support the Administration’s demonstrated commitment to global nuclear non-proliferation, and believe that the successful negotiation of the START follow-on treaty and convening of a nuclear security summit in Washington are constructive steps.

Plainly, this is precisely what the militantly pro-UN group wants to hear.

What about America’s war on Islamic terror?

I support President Obama’s stated withdrawal time lines from Iraq. I believe the President should establish benchmarks for success or failure in Afghanistan which, upon the meeting of certain conditions, would trigger an alternative or exit strategy. I have also voted for legislation requiring the Secretary of Defense to promulgate an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Not even the Obami talk this way anymore.

Sestak’s apparent infatuation with international organizations and, specifically, the International Criminal Court matches up nicely with CGS’s agenda as well:

5. Will you support greater U.S. cooperation with the ICC in situations where it is in the United States’ interest to bring to justice perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity?
Yes
6. Will you support the continued U.S. participation as an observer in the Court’s governing body (also known as the Assembly of States Parties)?
Yes
7. Do you support the reinstatement of the U.S. signature to the Rome Statute [that would submit the U.S. to the ICC’s jurisdiction] and its eventual approval by the Senate for U.S. ratification?
Yes
I agree with President Clinton that eventual ratification should remain our goal, but that the United States should have the chance to observe and assess the functioning of the court before choosing to become subject to its jurisdiction.

He also says he wants to double foreign aid (presumably including aid to those countries that routinely vote against the U.S. and Israel in international bodies).

But of all his answers, the most troubling may be his unqualified yes to this one: “Will you support the call for the U.S. to refrain from the use or threat of a veto in the UN Security Council regarding situations involving ongoing genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes?” So, without knowing the context and without regard to the UN’s perpetual efforts to cast Israel as a criminal state, Sestak would call for the U.S. to tie its own hands. He’s ready — in advance — to throw away the one effective tool in its arsenal that allows it to defeat noxious UN Security Council actions. Good to know.

Sestak, then, is no garden-variety liberal on foreign policy. His association with CGS and his answers to its queries raise a number of questions. Recall Sestak’s odd letter calling not for the UN Human Rights Council to stay out of the flotilla incident but for it to conduct a “fair” investigation of Israel. It was ludicrous on its face. Now we wonder whether it was an effort to thread the needle between irate pro-Israel voters and his CGS backers (who fawn over the UNHRC). So don’t expect Sestak to support the U.S. withdrawal from that bile-gushing entity that his backers say “is direct, resultant, and demands accountability” and that vilifies Israel. Meanwhile, CGS declares that the U.S. is deriving such “goodwill” from sitting mutely on the council.

Does Sestak agree with CGS’s agenda? (In his answers No. 17 and No. 18, Sestak declares that he’d accept the group’s endorsement and its money.) If not, will he return the money, as Bob Casey did in 2006? And why, considering the group’s track record on Israel and its stance toward international bodies that routinely challenge Israel’s legitimacy, would he seek the group’s endorsement? I mean, if he really does “stand with Israel,” wouldn’t he recognize the danger to the Jewish state posed by such an extreme internationalist agenda? The Sestak campaign has not yet responded to these questions, but I’ll pass on any answers I receive.

In sum, Sestak is in a bind on foreign policy and a raft of other issues. The latest Democratic poll shows him nine points behind Pat Toomey. He’s getting hammered among independents (trailing by 50 to 23 percent). He’s had his hands full with the Emergency Committee for Israel ad attack, and now he faces a new ad assault by the Republican Jewish Coalition. (Sources tell me it will be one of the largest investments ever made in an ad campaign targeting the Jewish community, with an initial buy of two weeks with heavy cable in Philadelphia.) In other words, Sestak’s association with leftist groups may be far more damaging than helpful. To regain ground with Jewish voters and independents, will he shed some of his associations, perhaps give back money from the most objectionable of his donors? Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Rasmussen also has the margin in the race at 9 points.

Joe Sestak’s answers on the questionnaire from the extremist group Citizens for Global Solutions on a range of foreign-policy issues reveal him to be to the left of the vast majority of Americans, even the president. The entire questionnaire should be read in full, but some items are particularly noteworthy. It starts out this way:

Within the last decade, the U.S. role in the geopolitical landscape has shifted away from being seen as a constructive leader. What role do you believe the U.S. should play in the world today?

After eight years of counterproductive, unilateral policies under President Bush, I believe it is time once again for the United States to be a true leader on the world stage and to engage with other states, including those with interests which may be adverse to our own. I have supported President Obama’s efforts to engage with rogue states such as Iran and his efforts to reassert our role as a leader in multilateral forums, such as the United Nations. I strongly support the Administration’s demonstrated commitment to global nuclear non-proliferation, and believe that the successful negotiation of the START follow-on treaty and convening of a nuclear security summit in Washington are constructive steps.

Plainly, this is precisely what the militantly pro-UN group wants to hear.

What about America’s war on Islamic terror?

I support President Obama’s stated withdrawal time lines from Iraq. I believe the President should establish benchmarks for success or failure in Afghanistan which, upon the meeting of certain conditions, would trigger an alternative or exit strategy. I have also voted for legislation requiring the Secretary of Defense to promulgate an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Not even the Obami talk this way anymore.

Sestak’s apparent infatuation with international organizations and, specifically, the International Criminal Court matches up nicely with CGS’s agenda as well:

5. Will you support greater U.S. cooperation with the ICC in situations where it is in the United States’ interest to bring to justice perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity?
Yes
6. Will you support the continued U.S. participation as an observer in the Court’s governing body (also known as the Assembly of States Parties)?
Yes
7. Do you support the reinstatement of the U.S. signature to the Rome Statute [that would submit the U.S. to the ICC’s jurisdiction] and its eventual approval by the Senate for U.S. ratification?
Yes
I agree with President Clinton that eventual ratification should remain our goal, but that the United States should have the chance to observe and assess the functioning of the court before choosing to become subject to its jurisdiction.

He also says he wants to double foreign aid (presumably including aid to those countries that routinely vote against the U.S. and Israel in international bodies).

But of all his answers, the most troubling may be his unqualified yes to this one: “Will you support the call for the U.S. to refrain from the use or threat of a veto in the UN Security Council regarding situations involving ongoing genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes?” So, without knowing the context and without regard to the UN’s perpetual efforts to cast Israel as a criminal state, Sestak would call for the U.S. to tie its own hands. He’s ready — in advance — to throw away the one effective tool in its arsenal that allows it to defeat noxious UN Security Council actions. Good to know.

Sestak, then, is no garden-variety liberal on foreign policy. His association with CGS and his answers to its queries raise a number of questions. Recall Sestak’s odd letter calling not for the UN Human Rights Council to stay out of the flotilla incident but for it to conduct a “fair” investigation of Israel. It was ludicrous on its face. Now we wonder whether it was an effort to thread the needle between irate pro-Israel voters and his CGS backers (who fawn over the UNHRC). So don’t expect Sestak to support the U.S. withdrawal from that bile-gushing entity that his backers say “is direct, resultant, and demands accountability” and that vilifies Israel. Meanwhile, CGS declares that the U.S. is deriving such “goodwill” from sitting mutely on the council.

Does Sestak agree with CGS’s agenda? (In his answers No. 17 and No. 18, Sestak declares that he’d accept the group’s endorsement and its money.) If not, will he return the money, as Bob Casey did in 2006? And why, considering the group’s track record on Israel and its stance toward international bodies that routinely challenge Israel’s legitimacy, would he seek the group’s endorsement? I mean, if he really does “stand with Israel,” wouldn’t he recognize the danger to the Jewish state posed by such an extreme internationalist agenda? The Sestak campaign has not yet responded to these questions, but I’ll pass on any answers I receive.

In sum, Sestak is in a bind on foreign policy and a raft of other issues. The latest Democratic poll shows him nine points behind Pat Toomey. He’s getting hammered among independents (trailing by 50 to 23 percent). He’s had his hands full with the Emergency Committee for Israel ad attack, and now he faces a new ad assault by the Republican Jewish Coalition. (Sources tell me it will be one of the largest investments ever made in an ad campaign targeting the Jewish community, with an initial buy of two weeks with heavy cable in Philadelphia.) In other words, Sestak’s association with leftist groups may be far more damaging than helpful. To regain ground with Jewish voters and independents, will he shed some of his associations, perhaps give back money from the most objectionable of his donors? Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Rasmussen also has the margin in the race at 9 points.

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