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Steve Sheffey

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Dold Sinks to New Low

Posted: 11/08/2013 4:01 pm

The cardinal principle of pro-Israel advocacy is that support for Israel must be bipartisan; concerns about Israel should never be mischaracterized for political gain. Ex-Congressman Robert Dold (R-IL) violated that rule this week in the lowest way possible: By lying about current Illinois 10th district Congressman Brad Schneider's (D-IL) views on Iran.

On November 5, Dold sent an email to his supporters claiming that Brad was about to introduce a bill that would delay sanctions by 120 days, citing an article in the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal fact-checked the article and within hours issued a correction that completely undercuts Dold's false depiction of Brad's position:

Correction: A bill sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D., Ill.) urging congressional study of U.S. policy on Iran does not propose a pause in sanctions. An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the bill.

If Dold had read or understood the bill -- there was a link to it in the other article his email cited -- he would have realized that the bill simply sets up a study panel to review, assess, and make recommendations regarding Iran. Nothing in the bill prevents Congress or the president from imposing sanctions or taking any other action against Iran immediately or at any time.

The truth about Brad Schneider: I've been involved in pro-Israel politics for over 25 years, and in all those years I've seen few members of Congress as deeply committed to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship as Brad Schneider. Brad recognizes that the safety and security of Israel is a vital interest of the United States and that a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat not only to Israel, but also to the world -- the proof of his commitment is in his record.

Brad has been in office less than a year, and in that time he has urged Iraq to stop the illicit flow of Iranian arms to Syria; co-sponsored and helped introduce the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, which adds the toughest sanctions ever against Iran; cosponsored the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act; urged the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity; and helped introduce the Visa Waiver for Israel Act. All in less than a year.

Most recently, Brad co-authored a letter signed by 78 freshman members of Congress stating that "Until Iran fundamentally changes course, the United States must continue to toughen sanctions." As if that wasn't enough, Brad also issued a statement opposing any delay in implementing tougher sanctions on Iran. Brad has never wavered from his commitment to stop Iran or from his belief that we must impose the toughest possible sanctions against Iran without delay.

Dold's conduct is reprehensible and inexcusable. This is classic swiftboating: a cynical, dishonest attempt by Dold to distort Rep. Schneider's consistently outstanding record on Israel and Iran to win Jewish voters who otherwise would not vote Republican.

Dold should be ashamed of himself, and so should the supporters of Dold in the Jewish community who are spreading these lies. We have fewer Jews in Congress now than at any time since 1972. For Robert Dold to attack Brad Schneider on Iran with so much at stake for Israel and the world is unfathomable and marks a new low even in these divisive times.

Dold was good on Israel when he was in office, but to prefer Dold over Brad on Israel makes no sense. Brad visited Israel over a dozen times before running for Congress; Dold visited Israel for the first time only after winning the Republican primary in 2010. Brad speaks the language and he's spent his entire adult life advocating for Israel. Few in Congress have stronger attachments to Israel than Brad.

When both candidates are good on Israel, Israel should not be an issue. We should focus instead on significant differences between the candidates. I used to think Dold was good on Israel. If you had asked me last week, I would have told you to vote for Dold if you are pro-Israel and if you like the Republican agenda, and to vote for Brad if you are pro-Israel and you are an independent or a Democrat.

But not this week. Dold's craven attempt to divide our community by turning Israel into a wedge issue and his attempts to manipulate our legitimate fears and concerns about Iran show that he puts partisan gain above a strong US-Israel relationship.

Strong bipartisan support is the foundation of the U.S.-Israel relationship. By attempting to create the illusion of disagreement on Middle East policy in a crass attempt to appeal to pro-Israel voters, Dold is succeeding only in showing the pro-Israel community how little he understands that the perception, as well as the reality, of strong bipartisan support is vital to the stability of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Had Dold not made Israel an issue, he would have lost based on his record on other issues, which led The Hill to characterize him as one of "Boehner's loyal soldiers" shortly after Dold's defeat in 2012. Dold's attempt to distort Brad Schneider's record on Israel and Iran is yet another reason that Illinois 10th district voters will reject him again in 2014.

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