At a time when Israel faces near universal condemnation for the May 30th killings of eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish American aboard the Gaza bound Mavi Marmara, and worldwide rebuke for its continued blockade of Gaza and ongoing expansion into Jerusalem and the West Bank, American midterm candidates still pandered for pro-Israel money and votes during this 2010 midterm election.
Cognizant of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) financial support for American politicians who legislate on Israel's behalf, allegiance to Israel played a role in several of this year's races.
(AIPAC President Lee Rosenberg, April 13, 2010 at annual AIPAC convention, implores financial support for pro-Israel politicians)
Some candidates employed the "you don't support Israel enough" tack against opponents. Republican Pat Toomey, victorious in the Pennsylvania Senate race, used this tactic against his Democratic challenger, Congressman Joe Sestak.
In the three-way California Republican Senate primary between Tom Campbell, Chuck DeVore and Carly Fiorina, Campbell was challenged by several camps, including the Weekly Standard, on his Israel allegiance. Fiorina went on to win that primary, but lost in the general to incumbent Democrat, Senator Barbara Boxer.
In California's 36th Congressional District, a hotly fought Israel-centric primary was waged between pro-Israel incumbent and blue dog Democrat, Jane Harman, and Marcy Winograd, her progressive Democrat opponent who's been a vocal critic of Israel's human rights abuses. Harman and Winograd are both Jewish.
The Harman/Winograd battle reached a hyperbolic crescendo, when at Harman's request, her longtime colleague, Henry Waxman (CA-30), powerful Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and die-hard Israel/AIPAC loyalist, sent a letter to Harman's Jewish constituents that vilified Winograd's criticism of Israel as "repugnant in the extreme." Waxman's letter caused such a stir that many issues relevant to 36th district constituents went unaddressed because of the heated focus on Israel.
Winograd ultimately lost to Harman, but not before Henry Waxman was questioned by The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim about his loyalty to America. In that conversation, Waxman declared his primary loyalty was to the United States.
In Illinois, a Republican versus Democrat smack-down for the Senate seat previously held by President Obama, was particularly raucous. Republican Congressman Mark Kirk of the 10th District of Illinois, who'd been deemed "Israel's best friend in Congress" by the Jew, Jews, Jewish blog, loudly touted his pro-Israel credentials. In fact, the five-term Congressman, himself not Jewish, went so far as to have Kirk For Congress scrawled in Hebrew on his Senate campaign site, along with his many accomplishments on behalf of Israel. Considering that Jews in Illinois speak English and don't live in Hebrew speaking enclaves, the use of Hebrew on candidate Kirk's website is perhaps a bit extreme.
Kirk's opponent, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who's middle east policy supports Israeli and Palestinian equality, was harshly targeted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for donating to the Committee For A Just Peace In Israel And Palestine; a peace and justice organization that lists the following as its mission and goals:
The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine is a diverse, community-based group dedicated to organizing local activities and educational events that advance the cause of peace and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis. We support efforts for resolution of this conflict that combine vision with pragmatism. At this point in time, we have adopted, as the most hopeful path toward evolution of a just peace, the following organizational principles:
- Support for equal rights and access to resources for all inhabitants of the region, based on principles of social, economic, environmental, and political justice.
- Support for peace and justice activities in Israel, Palestine, and the U.S.
- An end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, in accordance with international law and U.N. resolutions.
- An end to U.S. policies that sustain the occupation.
- International support for an equitable and just negotiation process.
- A resolution to the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with international law and human rights principles.
- An end to all forms of terror: state, organizational, and individual.
We welcome all who support the principles above to join us in building this important voice in our community.
Apparently NRSC objects to human rights goals that include equal peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians -- a sad commentary from a historic American political organization founded in 1916, after the ratification of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.
Republican Kirk prevailed in the end, winning President Obama's former Senate seat in a much coveted, albeit close 48% to 46% defeat over Giannoulias.
Perhaps the most bizarre Israel-centric race of the 2010 midterm season took place between stalwart Israel supporter, seven-term Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-27), and his native-American opponent Mark Reed, a descendant of the indigenous Mohawk and Apache tribes.
Besides Illinois Senate Republican candidate Mark Kirk, California Republican and political newcomer Mark Reed, was perhaps the most rabid supporter of Israel in this 2010 election.
Photo by Linda Milazzo at candidate Mark Reed's Oct. 13th townhall at Temple Ramat Zion
What makes Reed's Israel allegiance so bizarre is the inescapable irony that Reed's native-American ancestors had their land taken by European colonists to form the current nation of America, just as European colonists (in this case, European Jews) drove the Palestinians from their land to form the current nation of Israel.
In a July telephone interview with Reed, I questioned him about the irony of his unequivocal support for Israel in light of Israel's ongoing colonization and oppression of Palestinians which is so similar to the colonization and oppression suffered by Reed's own Mohawk and Apache ancestors.
"As a native American I'm empathetic. But when a dominant power enters into an underdeveloped region, it must establish an economic structure to sustain itself."Reed must be thrilled that Israel's present economic structure is so vibrant; significantly more so than that of the U.S. And it's helped to remain vibrant thanks to the $3 billion it gets annually from financially strapped America. True, Americans are hurting. But thanks to Israel-supporting legislators who serve Israel in the U.S., Israel continues to thrive.
Mark Reed's affinity is so unquestioningly for Israel that he chastises Sherman, the consummate Israel/AIPAC loyalist, for not being Israel-loyal enough. Reed admonished Sherman for not taking the Obama administration to task for what Reed believes is Obama's disregard for Israel and its leaders.
Countless anti-Israeli actions have occurred during the Obama Administration, such as:
- Support for multinational resolutions to strip Israel of nuclear weapons
- Refusal to approve any major Israeli requests for U.S. weapons platforms or advanced systems.
- For the first time in recent US history, the US government actually sold weapon technology to Muslim nations before selling the technology to Israel.
- Obama's refusal to dine with Israeli PM Netanyahu or allow any photos to be taken at the White House during their first meeting in Washington
- Obama hasn't done enough to prevent Iran from getting its own nuclear weapon.
- Condemnation of the building of settlements in the the Jewish suburb of North Jerusalem called Ramat Shlomo
- Bowing to Muslim Leaders, sacrificing Israel relations.
These policies and others approach outright anti-Semitism, earning Obama the lowest approval ratings among Democrat presidents with Jews.
Brad Sherman has not publicly condemned the Obama Administration for these actions.
If elected, Mark Reed will stand up, and condemn the Obama Administration's anti-Israel actions!
Isn't an American legislator, or a candidate for a seat in the United States Congress, expected to swear his or her allegiance first and foremost to the Constitution of the United States and all it represents -- and not to a foreign land and a foreign leader? In the end, despite Reed's pronouncements of his allegiance to Israel, Brad Sherman, AIPAC's long and trusted ally, quashed him, winning by a margin of two to one.
The statements on Reed's page are so virulently anti-American leadership, and so fanatically pro-Israeli leadership, that they could reasonably call into question Reed's primary loyalty to the United States.
Israel and the United States are not one country. Being pro-Israel should not wield so much power that it becomes a principal issue in American elections. When the National Republican Senatorial Committee challenges Alexi Giannoulias because he desires equal peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians, there is something inhumanely and terribly wrong.
When a neophyte candidate for Congress like Mark Reed takes his own President to task and shows fealty to a foreign leader over his own, there is something terribly wrong.
When the United States consistently sides with Israel to the detriment of American citizens and America's standing in the world, there is something terribly wrong.
It's time to right this wrong. Holding office in America is not for the purpose of serving Israel. It's for the purpose of serving America, the American people, and America's honor in the world.