Israel has”ceased to exist as a campaign issue” at the moment in this year’s presidential contest, but that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.
In fact, writing in Haaretz, Bradley Burston notes Israel’s influence on the election could be one military strike, one peace deal or one terrorist strike away.
He outlines a half dozen ways, most of which are not good news, in which Israel could once again become a central U.S. election issue.
In a separate article, Burston breaks down the Democratic and Republican party platforms on Israel.
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who bucked the Democratic Party and endorsed President Bush over Democrat John Kerry in 2004, has no regrets about that decision. Kerry did not fully understood the need to support Israel at the time, he says.
“That is not an issue in this election,” Koch writes in a statement today. “Both parties and their candidates have made clear, before and during this election campaign their understanding of the need to support Israel and oppose acts of terrorism waged against it by Hamas and other Muslim supporters of terrorism.”
For him, it comes down to who will “best protect and defend America.”
The answer, according to Koch, is that “the country is safer in the hands of Barack Obama, leader of the Democratic Party and protector of the philosophy of that party.”
Besides issues such as civil rights, health care, taxation and abortion rights, Koch writes that “Frankly, it would scare me if [GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin] were to succeed John McCain in the presidency.”
Here’s Koch’s full statement:
In a position paper released to JTA today, Hillary Clinton affirms her belief in Israel’s right to exist with an undivided Jersalem as its capital.
Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota is among a congressional delegation visiting Israel this week with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The eighteen-member group, which is almost all freshmen, also includes Jewish congressmen Paul Hodes, John Yarmuth and Steve Cohen.
My colleague Nathan Guttman is in Israel now and will have a story up this week about all the politicking going on in the Holy Land.
It is particularly interesting to watch Ellison trying to balance his Jewish and Muslim constituencies. He still seems to be figuring out how to keep his foot out of his mouth.
When the three leading Democratic presidential contenders got together for a faith and politics forum this past Monday night, it was Illinois Senator Barack Obama who once again fielded a bonus round question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Asked whether the Palestinians are being treated morally, fairly, and justly by the Israelis, Obama told the audience at George Washington University: “There have been times when there’s no doubt that Palestinians have been placed in situations that we wouldn’t want our own families to be placed in.”
“I believe the Israelis want peace and they want security,” he said. “They’ve got bombs flying into their territories right now,” said Obama. “And we would expect them to act appropriately in defending themselves.”
That exchange reminds me of one of Obama’s questions during the first Democratic debate back in April.
After being asked to name “America’s three most important allies around the world” – he skipped Israel, but gave shout-outs to the European Union and Nato – Obama was stuck with this follow-up:
Brian Williams: Senator, thanks. I’ll give you a follow-up. I didn’t hear you mention Israel, and I ask because there is a quote attributed to your name. You said recently, [to Democratic activists in Muscatine, Iowa] “No one is suffering more than the Palestinian people.” Do you stand by that remark?
So between April and June, “Palestinian suffering” has turned into, in Obama-speak, “situations that we wouldn’t want our own families to be placed in.”
It’s worth noting that just as Obama’s earlier comments about Palestinian suffering cast a shadow over that first Democratic debate, Monday’s forum on faith came with a storm cloud sent by the Catholic League.
Earlier in the day, the league questioned Obama’s ties to several preachers who have allegedly denounced Zionism or have ties to the Nation of Islam.
Fred Thompson says it’s time to let Israel take care of business.
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