August 31, 2005

Democrats Must Condemn Anti-Israel Statements of Cindy Sheehan and the Anti-War Left

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a link to the Republican Jewish Coalition's news release about the Democrat's "blame Israel" mentality. The press release was in response to the Democrat's failure to criticize or condemn some anti-Israeli statements made by Cindy Sheehan. The RJC stated, in pertinent part, the following:

[Cindy Sheehan] has been heralded by Democrats such as Joe Trippi, campaign manager for Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean’s campaign for President, Michael Moore, and organizations such as Democrats.com, MoveOn.org, True Majority, and Democracy for America.While Democrats are busy making Cindy Sheehan their spokesman and avatar of their views, we see her as yet another example of how critics of Israel within the Democratic Party have taken control of the party's agenda. If Cindy Sheehan’s ideas are what the Democrats have to offer, then more and more American Jews will continue to see that there is no place for them in the Democratic Party.

In response to that post, I received a comment from Joe Trippi stating that the RJC was wrong - he was a supporter of Israel and "have been blogging about Disengagement for months." (evidently, in reference to Israel's disengagement from Gaza). Joe Trippi posted a rebuttal to the RJC's press release on his blog (see here) to deny the allegation that he and other Democrats were anti-Israel. He focuses on his support for a "two-state solution" and Sharon's disengagement from Gaza. I certainly have not read enough of the body of his work to know whether or not that is necessarily true, so I will take his statement at face value.
My question for Joe Trippi and the Democrats: does Israel have the right to defend itself against Palestinian terrorism? Or, do you believe that such efforts merely add to the "cycle of violence" in the Middle East? Do you believe that there is a difference between Israel's targeting of terrorists and Palestinian suicide bombers killing innocent Israeli civillians? Do you believe that Israel is the party that must continuously make further concessions to the Palestinians when the Palestinians have not upheld their end of the bargain - renouncing and ending terrorism? Do you believe in holding the Palestinians accountable? If you truly support Israel's right to exist (even alongside a Palestinian state), then you cannot engage in moral equivalence or otherwise deny Israel the right to defend its citizens. I have read nothing yet from Joe Trippi that would make be believe that he comes up on the wrong side of these questions. Unfortunately, it is a question that I truly believe that the Democratic Party, as a whole, must address.
However, this brings us to the other side of the problem. The Democrats have tolerated anti-Israel remarks from members of their party and groups that they have affiliated with. With respect to the Democrat's support of the anti-Israel views of Cindy Sheehan and her supporters, Joe Trippi asserts:

Fourth — No one has made Cindy Sheehan a spokesperson for the Democratic Party. She speaks for herself and she speaks to a nation.

Fifth — I do not agree with everything Cindy Sheehan says — but that misses the point.

True enough. The statements were made by Cindy Sheehan. No political party should be ultimately responsible for the statements of its members (Republicans would surely agree - e.g., Trent Lott). However, where is the condemnation of her statements? Merely stating that Cindy Sheehan's views are not the views of the Democratic party (or that she is not a spokesperson of the Democratic Party) is not the same as rejecting her statements regarding Israel.

It is a real problem that (a) the Democrats associate with people and groups that have very vile anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views (e.g., Cindy Sheehan, James Moran, Cynthia McKinney, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, International ANSWER, International Solidarity Movement, Code Pink, Crawford House), and (b) do not loudly condemn anti-Israeli propaganda among such individuals and groups. Unfortunately, the Democrats appear to be too concerned with not upsetting the radical left to do so.
Other Democrats either e-mailed me or posted comments on this blog stating that we should be careful not to criticize Cindy Sheehan because the authenticity of the statements was questionable. Ms. Sheehan had tried to disclaim the statements, which were purportedly written in an e-mail from her AOL account. Even Democrats like Susan Estrich aren't buying that explanation:

Did an ABC staffer insert the following lines in an email sent by celebrity antiwar mother Cindy Sheehan? ''Am I emotional? Yes, my firstborn was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel." That is what Sheehan is claiming. If you don't believe that explanation -- if you don't believe an ABC staffer set about to put anti-Semitic words into Cindy Sheehan's mouth -- then your hero, my liberal friends, is a raging, ignorant anti-Semite. Sorry, but what are you doing hanging with that crowd?....

But I will not stand silent and see anti-Semitism masked as opposition to Israel and Israel blamed for George Bush's mistakes, if that's what they are. She did say this, apparently: "What they're saying, too, is like, it's OK for Israel to have nuclear weapons. But Iran or Syria better not get nuclear weapons. ... It's OK for Israel to occupy Palestine ... for the United States to occupy Iraq, but it's not OK for Syria to be in Lebanon. They're a bunch of (expletive) hypocrites." Anyone who cannot tell the difference, in any terms, between Israel on the one hand and Syria and Iran on the other is not someone who, as my grandmother would put it, is "good for the Jews" -- or for the country, I'd like to add.

If they want to keep their support fromJewish voters, the Democrats must learn to unequivocably condemn each and every anti-Israel statement from people, like Cindy Sheehan or Code Pink, regardless of whether the Democrats find common ground with them (such as the opposition to the Iraq war). Moreover, the Democrats should not associate themselves with such people.
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