Ben Smith reports that after weeks and weeks of defending his signature on the Gaza 54 letter, Joe Sestak has now confessed he was wrong to sign on to the J Street letter bashing Israel for its supposed “collective punishment” of the Palestinians. Smith observes:
Now the highest-profile signatory, Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak, says he regrets signing the letter — a win for the hawks and a blow to J Street’s attempt to create political space on a pro-Israel left of the Middle East conflict.
Sestak says he should have sent his own letter. Goodness knows what would have been in that.
Sestak has now alienated just about everyone on this issue. Just as he reversed course on his $350,000 earmark, here too he tried out one excuse, saw it wasn’t working, and then declared he was so very sorry to have done something he denied was a problem to begin with. Both J Street and truly pro-Israel voters understand that Sestak’s word is meaningless.
Moreover, recall that not only did he protest the ECI ad on this issue; Sestak also tried to have it taken down. His attorney at the time wrote that it was false to assert that Sestak had accused Israel of “collective punishment.” I guess the ad was accurate after all. Maybe he should apologize to ECI as well.
Another thing: Sestak says this was the one action he regretted. So he still thinks keynoting for CAIR and lauding its work was the right thing to do? Or is that apology coming next week?
It’s hard to decide who is in worse shape — Sestak or J Street. Before this, the former was heading for defeat, and this won’t help matters. But J Street’s problem isn’t going to end on Election Day. What lawmaker will now want to sign their Israel-bashing letters after this? The J Street line is politically toxic, and its “support” (a whole $7,500 ad-buy) has proved to be minuscule compared to the grief the group has caused Sestak.
J Street has tried to do two things, as I have pointed out: to be a player in electoral politics and to stake out a leftist position on Israel. It turns out that there is no market for the latter, and hence, the former is a flop.