The Philadelphia Jewish Voice

November 2006

Special Dossier: Decision 5767
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NJDC national campaign calling on Jewish Republicans to stop using Israel as a political football. The ad asks Jewish voters, "Israel or Partisan Politics?" For more than 50 years, the pro-Israel community has worked to achieve a bipartisan consensus of support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Special Dossier: Decision 5767


GOP Slanders Dems With 'Anti-Israel' Ads

-- Rep. Howard Berman

That the Republican Jewish Coalition is deliberately distorting the facts is bad enough. But it is even worse when it is done as part of a reckless strategy to politicize support for Israel --- a strategy that will have negative long-term consequences for the vital American-Israeli relationship.

President Bush, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and many other Republicans have certainly been reliable friends of Israel. But they have been no better friends than the great majority of Democratic leaders --- including former president Bill Clinton, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi --- all of whom are unwavering supporters of the Jewish state.

Democrats have a long and proud tradition of supporting Israel. It was a Democratic president, Harry Truman, who recognized Israel just minutes after David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the founding of the Jewish state.

When Democrats controlled Congress, we passed legislation prohibiting American contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization until it recognized Israel's right to exist, approved massive increases in aid for Israel, blocked certain arms sales to Israel's enemies in the Middle East and took other steps to enhance Israel's security.

As members of the minority, Democrats have played an integral role in legislative efforts to cut off funding for Hamas and stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Both of those legislative efforts have, unfortunately, been blocked by the Bush administration.

I'm not even going to make the case --- and there is a strong case to be made --- that a number of Bush administration actions and blunders in the international sphere have hurt America's credibility and have therefore weakened America's effectiveness in its support for Israel.

The Republican Jewish Coalition chose to feature former president Jimmy Carter in its political ads, but notwithstanding his comments to the contrary, he is an outlier on this issue and does not represent the mainstream of Democrats. Even more ludicrous is the notion that Cindy Sheehan speaks for any meaningful number of Democrats on the subject of Israel. If Democrats wanted to sink to the Republican Jewish Coalition's level, we could just as easily trot out statements made by a number of prominent Republicans and claim that the GOP is therefore hostile to Israel.

In the increasingly polarized American political system, support for Israel is one of the few issues that remains truly bipartisan. This gives Israel confidence that no matter which party occupies the White House or controls the House and Senate, the United States will always be committed to Israel's security and right to exist free from terrorism. The Republican Jewish Coalition is making a conscious effort to destroy that bipartisan consensus in the pursuit of illusory short-term political gains. But it is not acting on behalf of Israel when it sets one party against the other. This cheap ploy will inject uncertainty into the American-Israeli relationship --- and ultimately make Israel less secure.

If Republican leaders really care about Israel's well-being, then they should renounce the Republican Jewish Coalition's dangerous campaign and devote their energies to strengthening the longstanding bipartisan consensus on supporting Israel.

Howard Berman represents California's 28th Congressional District. He is a member of the House International Relations Committee. This article originally appeared in the Forward, the national Jewish newspaper.
Mike Fitzpatrick
Mike Fitzpatrick.

Local Candidates Swiftboated

-- David Goldenberg

On Wednesday, October 4, 2006, embattled Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) attacked his Democratic opponent Patrick Murphy's support for Israel with an outrageous disregard for the truth that reveals much more about Fitzpatrick's desperation than it does Murphy's pro-Israel positions.

"Patrick Murphy's position on Iran and Israel are unassailable. He understands the treat Iran poses to the United States, Israel, and entire world community, and he stands by Israel in its right to defend itself and it's people," said National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Executive Director Ira Forman. "Murphy's strong support for Israel and commitment to furthering the U.S.-Israel relationship is not only appreciated in the Jewish community, it is applauded,"

Murphy has called for the international community to seek a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian threat before pursuing a military option that he very explicitly keeps on the table. He demands that the United Nations Security Council take decisive action against the growing an Iranian nuclear program and advocates the use of every resource available to stop Iran's burgeoning threat to world security. 

"By suggesting that Patrick Murphy's view is wrong, Fitzpatrick has apparently decided that he understands the interests of the United States and Israel better than the U.S. State Department, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), or Israel, all of which have advocated for a peaceful resolution to the growing crisis posed by Iran," Forman continued. "Murphy rightly keeps the military option on the table. However, his experience in uniform leads him to seek first to resolve this situation without war. Fitzpatrick is one of far too many Republicans who seek to politicize the U.S.-Israel relationship, and I am confident that the Jewish community will see through his deceitful efforts to paint Captain Murphy as weak on the security of either the U.S. or Israel."

Patrick Murphy: Friend of Israel
Patrick Murphy

Congressman Fitzpatrick held a press conference to blatantly lie about Patrick Murphy's position on Israel and the Middle East. 

?These are outlandish statements on behalf of Mike Fitzpatrick," said Patrick Murphy. ?I have never expressed anything other than unwavering support for Israel. I would like to remind Congressman Fitzpatrick that in May we both took an honesty pledge from the Bucks County Courier Times, stating that we would run honest campaigns," Murphy continued. ?This is a blatant lie and an attack on my commitment to Israel and my military service to our country. As a veteran I believe we should always be reluctant warriors and try diplomacy first. But I support Israel's right to preemptively defend herself from a nuclear armed Iran if diplomacy were to fail. For Mike Fitzpatrick to say otherwise is a scare tactic and a lie." 

"Israel has not only the right to defend itself, but the obligation to defend itself." (WBCB 1490AM Debate, 8/19/06)

"We need to make sure that Israel understands that the United States of America is their ally. That Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, and we need to be clear to the people in the state of Israel that they have no greater friend than the United States of America, that we understand their plight." (Doylestown Intelligencer Debate, 9/24/06)

"Israel has every right to defend itself against these heinous acts of terrorism by Hezbollah. Hezbollah's disregard for the lives of Israeli civilians, and their refusal to return two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, show Hezbollah is not interested in acting as a fair partner within the region. As an Iraq War veteran, I understand the importance of having a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, and Israel is that shining light. Today, we must stand with Israel, a true friend and ally in the Middle East." ("Patrick Murphy Statement on the Growing Conflict Between Israel and Hezbollah", 7/18/06)