Tuesday, June 2, 2009

AIPAC Targets Donna Edwards for Embracing a Sane Foreign Policy

In a Politico story filled with plenty of veiled primary threats and ridiculous distortions, we find out that the warmongers in the Jewish community are not very pleased with Donna Edwards' sane approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) knocked off incumbent Al Wynn in a 2008 primary by tapping into liberal resentment of the Democratic congressman and portraying him as a tool of K Street who had lost touch with his suburban Maryland constituents.

But after just a year on the job, Edwards herself is facing grumbling from within her own party, not to mention the possibility of a primary opponent with support from an alienated constituency: the suburban Washington-area Jewish community.

“The relationship between the Jewish community and Donna Edwards got off to a rocky start,” said Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. “I would be lying if I told you there wasn’t concern.”

So what got them off to such a "rocky start"?

At issue is Edwards’ support for Israel. Jewish leaders say tensions began to rise in January, when the House voted on a nonbinding resolution “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza” and condemning Hamas for its attacks on the Jewish state.

The resolution, introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), passed 390-5 with overwhelming bipartisan support. But Edwards balked at supporting the measure, joining 21 other members who voted “present.”

At the time, Edwards said the “House voted on the wrong resolution at the wrong time” and that she chose not to back the resolution because Congress ought to instead support the United Nations’ call for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East.

Agreeing with the rest of the world that killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians isn't a great way to achieve peace? The nerve.

Her explanation did little to quell the controversy, and in the weeks after Jewish leaders complained that an Edwards-sponsored forum on the Israel-Palestine conflict failed to include a hawkish, pro-Israel voice and that the first-term congresswoman was unresponsive to requests to organize a meeting with suburban Washington Jewish leaders to discuss the vote.

“The fact that she did not vote in favor [of the resolution] is cause for concern,” said Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of the B’nai Tzedek synagogue in Potomac, Md. “It certainly raises questions for our community.”

“It appears from that vote that she has reservations about support for Israel that others don’t,” said Rabbi Ari Sunshine of the B’nai Shalom synagogue of Olney, Md.

Her forum failed to include a "hawkish, pro-Israel voice"? It may not have included a warmongering nut job, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean there wasn't a "pro-Israel" voice represented. Great unbiased reporting, Politico!

And she has reservations about blindly supporting a country's military actions that have a direct impact on our national security? The horror!

Bring on the threats of a primary challenge:

There are already signs that the Jewish community is preparing to back a primary challenge to Edwards. Last month, Maryland Del. Herman Taylor attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington — in no small part, he said, to gauge support for a run against Edwards.

“I have a lot of friends in the Jewish community,” Taylor told POLITICO. “There seems to be a lot of people not completely thrilled with her lack of support for Israel.”

“I do think there are people who would like to back a pro-Israel candidate against Donna Edwards,” said Larry Fishbein, the president and publisher of the Washington Jewish Week newspaper. “She is certainly opening the door to another candidate who would be more receptive to the Jewish vote.”

Since he's asking AIPAC for help and throwing around the "pro-Israel" term without definition, let's just rewrite those two paragraphs so that there a bit more accurate.:

“I have a lot of friends in the warmongering faction of the Jewish community,” Taylor told POLITICO. “There seems to be a lot of people not completely thrilled with her lack of support for endless war.”

“I do think there are people who would like to back a pro-carpet bombing candidate against Donna Edwards,” said Larry Fishbein, the president and publisher of the Washington Jewish Week newspaper. “She is certainly opening the door to another candidate who would be more receptive to warmongering lobbyists with tons of money.”

Much better. And speaking of lobbyist money, you know who really loved Israel? Al Wynn!

Jewish leaders complain that Edwards is emerging as a far less reliable ally to Israel than Wynn, who during his time in office was a staunch supporter of the annual U.S. aid package to Israel. In 2005, he called on Egypt to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement that “Israel must be wiped off the map.” During his 2008 campaign against Edwards, Wynn received $24,500 from the pro-Israel lobby, according to contribution records compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

“He was very receptive to the Jewish concerns, very responsive to the Jewish community,” said Weinblatt.

I'm glad they put it all in one paragraph in case you were wondering why Mr. bought and paid for Al Wynn just loved Israel so much. The man would be on the House floor defending Ahmadinejad if he had a lobby that could raise him $30,000.

Oh yeah, one more time, this has NOTHING to do with being responsive to Jewish concerns or the Jewish community. LITERALLY NOTHING. This is about your feelings on pointless violence, and the long term safety of Israel, Palestine and the United States. Trying to make this seem like an angry group of constituents is an insult to everyone's intelligence. Donna Edwards is being attacked because she had the courage to speak out against the most powerful lobby in the United States. They frame their attacks this way because because Politico would be less likely to write a story titled "AIPAC attacks Donna Edwards for Opposing the Indescriminate Killing of Civilians with US Taxpayer money."

While several years ago the article would have ended there, one of the last paragraphs gives you hope that someday AIPAC's grip of our foreign policy debate will be broken:
“We consider her to be extremely pro-Israel,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street, a pro-Israel organization that endorsed Edwards in her 2008 race and favors a dovish approach to the Middle East conflict. “She is very interested in finding a way to bring peace to Israel through diplomacy.”
While J Street is still in it's infancy, their existance is massively important for many reasons, starting with simple press quotes like this. As the rest of this article shows, we have a long way to go before this changes in a major way, but growing organizations like J Street is a big start.

Oh yeah, and if you have time, or a little money, support Donna Edwards. I volunteered for her in 2008, I'll work for her again in 2010, and you won't be dissapointed with the awesome member of congress you get in return.


  1. Her forum failed to include a "hawkish, pro-Israel voice"? It may not have included a warmongering nut job, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean there wasn't a "pro-Israel" voice represented. Great unbiased reporting, Politico!the key qualifyer here is "Jewish leaders complained," which is likely paraphrasing but is attributed to the people the writer interviewed for this story and not the writer his or herself. even though I love the "interview-10-to-20-people-who-feel-one-way-about-the-issue-then-tack-on-one-opposing-voice-at-the-end-of-the-article" approach to journalism. but still, the writer here is absolved.

  2. any politician who doesn't support the 'build a throne out of palestinian skulls' amendment should be considered insufficiently hawkish

  3. @DCJonesy I see your point after reading it over a few times, but I still think they did a terrible job of making that clear. But then again, you're a journalism major so I feel comfortable deferring to your judgment on these things.

    Also, is there a journalistic term for "interview-10-to-20-people-who-feel-one-way-about-the-issue-then-tack-on-one-opposing-voice-at-the-end-of-the-article"?

    @JN: Remember the AIPAC lobbyist who said he could get 75 senators to sign his napkin? I bet you could get 1/3 of the house to co-sponsor your skull amendment.

  4. i think the technical term for it is "crappy journalism." but in most cases, as long as you have that one voice that represents the other side of an issue, you can usually get away with it. this does just enough to fall in line with the rules, albeit just barely.

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