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October 08, 2004



It is odd, very odd. But sorta premature to label it "political suicide," methinks.

Could be an oversight, could be a judgement that other issues in a given exchange merit more attention, could be that their polling shows limited defections to Bush by Jewish voters, thus no need to tend that account. If it's the latter, a truly amazing example of inertia being the greatest force in nature. Some prominent, politicaly-connected life-long Dems inside the Beltway are appalled at their party and candidate and quietly in Bush's corner, and of course there's a swath of "Roger Simon" Dems for Bush out there -- but could party ID, habit, and presumably a few domestic issues really suffice to hold Bush's Jewish vote to insignificant levels? If Bush doesn't surpass Reagan's Jewish vote performance, it'll be one of the more amazing factoids of this election. Or, alternatively, confirmation that strong support of Israel is now taken for granted and doesn't earn a Repub any points.


I think Kerry purposely omitted Israel. He's going after the much bigger Arab-American vote.

Did no one notice he didn't answer the question about Iran? Read the question. Now where's the answer? We'll be tougher is not an answer. But maybe that's the best Kerry can really do. We'll be faster, smarter, and tougher.


Iran sponsors terrorism and has missiles capable of hitting Israel and southern Europe.

LOL. Not only he abandoned Israel but - worse - he abandoned southern Europe! There are many more people living in southern Europe than in Israel. Many more Americans vacation in southern Europe than in Israel. That's a much more terrible gaffe. Terrible, terrible gaffe. And he didn't scream anywhere near as loud as his opponent - another terrible mistake. This is devastating.


I don't find Kerry's Israel error surprising at all, as it is very likely being left unaddressed in order to reflect one of Kerry's primary constituencies, the MoveOn.org crowd. As a libertarian protestant in flyover USA attending grad school, I have a good amount of contact with the active MoveOn undergrad folks in local groups and online discussion forums. I've been increasingly perplexed at emerging extreme anti-semitism present in these groups.

At first I dismissed it as the paranoia of the tin-foil types that tend to dominate the Michael Moore crowd (they usually engage me on my dislike of components of the Patriot Act which many libertarians are somewhat wary of and immediately descend into bizarre grand conspiracies only lacking a few black helicopters and a trilateral commission for completeness). Lacking pro-palistinian organizers locally, I've discounted an influence from this perspective (in fact, as the university I attend has been the leading institution for Afghani studies, the middle-eastern attitude has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive of the current administration's policy. There are too many first-hand accounts of families and lives improved by the removal of the Taliban for any Michael Moore myths to obtain traction here).

Still, to hear nearly every MoveOn group dialog proceed into "the truth is the Jews control Bush" causes me great concern, having spent considerable time in Germany in my youth, having read Hitler's Willing Executioners and studied the role of everyday Germans in the contribution to genocide. Americans need to be aware that the same dynamic is taking root, even here in flyover country. (Note: MoveOn funder George Soros is a puzzle himself; as a European Jew, he has openly blamed anti-semitism on Israel and said the Bush and Israeli administrations have caused it - it would seem his self-loathing may be getting out of control in his organization). While it may be that Soros has created his own expendible Brownshirts army that has attracted socially instable elements from all spectrums, they certainly demand close attention and visible opposition from the public in order to prevent them from believing their hatred of minorities is welcome in our country.


Had an interesting discussion with a Kerry supporter, who is Jewish, as I am. She correctly recognized that my preference for Bush is partially based on his unwavering support of Israel. When I asked whether she was bothered by Kerry's repeated failure to stand up for Israel, she replied that while Bush did indeed support Israel, he was willing to "sell American Jews down the river," by which she meant--I'm sure--his opposition to abortion. Does anyone actually KNOW what percentage of American Jews are Bush supporters? Does concern for Israel outweigh the traditional Jewish liberalism?



You're incredible. I don't recall Southern Europe ever being threathened by Iran. Israel on the other hand ...
It goes deeper with you than ignorance, doesn't it. I guess it's understandable - you are a true MoveOn(er).


Bush doesn't support Israel, he supports Israeli wingnuts. Soros didn't blame the raise of anti-semitism on Israel, he blaimed it on Israeli wingnuts, likudniks.

Israel is not Sharon, America is not Bush. There are 6 million people in Israel and 300 million people in the US, while Sharon and Bush are just a couple of wingnuts who make their countries look bad.

That's all there is to it, folks.


Tom, respectfully - what's the matter, why are trying to ban me from posting comments? You don't want your blog to be an echo-chamber, do you? And I think I've been polite, certainly more polite than many of your regular folks here.

If that's still not enough, I'll be happy to comply with your rules, just tell me what I'm doing wrong.



Bush and Sharon do have something in common, luckily for their constituants. They have both reduced the number of attcks on their citizens and they have gone out and had terrorists killed. To protect and defend is a what leaders are supposed to do.


At least he didn't say Israel's supporters lived in a fantasy land. Unlike Red Sox fans.


did they really reduce the number of attcks on their citizens? Seems to me it's exactly the opposite: each of them has had a record number of attacks on their citizens on their watch.

They did, indeed, send their people out and killed a lot of people - probably a few terrorists among them too - but they bred a record number of new terrorists like never before.

Seems like a horrendous failure to me.

But that's not the point. The point is that there are many different ways to support Israel. Mr. Soros thinks that your/Bush way is wrong and counterproductive. That's all.

Cecil Turner

"If that's still not enough, I'll be happy to comply with your rules, just tell me what I'm doing wrong."

Well, the short answer is that you're driving away intelligent commenters. Mostly on your side (since few people want to be associated with your remarks), but also on the other (since few of us want to spend our lives arguing with content-free statements like: "Bush doesn't support Israel, he supports Israeli wingnuts").

"You don't want your blog to be an echo-chamber, do you?"

No, in fact quite the contrary . . . we need more reasoned lefty comments. And IMHO, you aren't helping. (And since the very reasonable TM apparently reached the same conclusion independently, I'd suggest there might be some validity to it.)


abb1 - I am hoping you will take the hint and leave. I don't want these discussions to be an echo-chamber, but your comments are so consistently daft that I am wondering whehter sensible lefties stay away, rather than join in on something that might look vaguely like "your side".

Sort of a Gresham's Law of debate.

So my hope is you will beat it, and give someone else a chance.


but they bred a record number of new terrorists like never before

This is the most pathetic lament that keeps on rising like marsh gas from the decayed brain droppings of the MoveOn crowd. You breed terrorists by opposing them. Whereas, if you just huddle up in a dark corner and beg them not to harm you, everything will be OK.

It's exactly backwards, of course. What a bunch of passive aggressive wimps.


Which is pretty much why I don't respond to abb1's posts anymore. They're not statements of fact, they're trollbait. Perhaps others have been impolite to abb1 because it has been preemptively rude.


OK, fair enough Tom.

All you have to do is ask. Blocking IPs seems kinda totalitarian for the freedom-lovin' folk like you. And I can change my IP any time I want.


Have fun, folks.


I just don't get it. Why are we in Iraq? Israel? NO! Its for all of the Western World!! Which Islam Hates!! OK, OK fair enough.

So Kerry plays along. Its not Israel, its Western Civilization that is at risk.

But then the whines start: "What about Israel? He's weak on Israel! He didn't mention the special risk to Israel!"

Geez guys, what do you want! If we Americans say we are doing this for Israel and Israel is special you say we are anti-semites. If we FAIL to mention we are doing it for Israel or discuss the special risk to Israel and our special duty to protect Israel, then you claim we are anti-semites.

My god, are you all Woody-Allen-neurotic? What is it with this truly insane and contradictory oversensitivity? What in God's name do you expect from Americans? We're damned by Jews if we do and we're damned by Jews if we don't.

I am beginning to suspect there is absolutely no logic to it--that the sole purpose of this nonsensical psychic whipsawing is to see how insane you can make good-hearted Christians in their own country. Like the neurotic girlfriend who sulks because you don't do it THIS way, and then when you do, sulks because you didn't do it THAT way.

My goodness, don't you really think Aliyah makes sense? You wouldn't have to deal with us non-Jews and get yourself worked up. You would have racial purity, complete control and no one to tell you you have to share. You could diddle with the zoning laws and restrictive covenants to your hearts' content to guarantee that you stay on top.

And perhaps most importantly from a psychic point of view, you could drop the pretense of universalism and join an avowedly racialist party like One Nation or Yisrael B'Aliyah like so many other American Jews do when they move to Israel. You would be free at last. Wouldn't that be wonderful? For all of us?


I don't understand the logical leap from "Bush supports Israel" to "American Jews should support Bush". I think that many people WAY overestimate how much American Jews care about Israel. For most, it's not their home, it wasn't their parent's home, they've never been there, and they don't know anyone there. Even among those who do have at least one of those relations, well: My wife's family is Catholic and my grandmother is from France - should I vote for John Kerry?


I had a post on Kerry's Jewish problem way back here - it does look like Bush is finding an uncomfortable level of support amongst what is normally a strong Democratic group.

Loathe though I am to put the Democratic Party on the couch, my guess is that Kerry is trying to straddle a division between proper progessives (who hate the Zionist oppressor), and conventional libs, who have the same feeling about Israel that they do about the US - love the US/Israel, hate Bush/Sharon.

So maybe for Kerry, silence is golden.

Cecil Turner

"Iran sponsors terrorism and has missiles capable of hitting Israel and southern Europe. Iran will have nuclear weapons in two to three years time . . . "

The threat to Israel shouldn't be the primary issue here. Iran has far more military capacity than Israel, but fighting a missile war pits their weakness against Israeli strength, and is a certain loser.

The terrorism avenue is far more troubling, but if we're talking nukes, the most likely vector is a container detonated in a harbor. And once the freighter is at sea, it's about as easy to pull into New York as Haifa (with perhaps a greater chance of success). The candidates' answers should have focused on US security, and both did.

"In the event that U.N. sanctions don't stop this threat, what will you do as president?"

Neither gave a good answer, but Kerry derailed the conversation with the idiotic: "If he'd let the inspectors do their job . . ." And Bush appropriately called him on it. Then both focused on the step before UN sanctions (Kerry, "We've got to join with the British and the French, with the Germans"; Bush, "We've been doing that.") Kerry came closest to an answer: "And if we have to get tough with Iran, believe me, we will get tough." But it was totally unbelievable. Bush doesn't need to claim he'd be tough, and perhaps was wise not to threaten another war.

Bush's "unpopular" meme was a good point, Israel was a good example, and Kerry missed an opportunity. But on the second go-'round, "support Israel" may well have been a sharp political answer, but in my opinion would have missed the point.


A good read on the roots of Kerry's embedded anti-Jewish perspective (combined with his continentalist philosophy, which is reinforced by his loathing of eastern Europeans, identification with French/German continentals, etc.) is in James Bennett's 2003 UPI article: http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20030412-013135-5601r

It'll help explain why the Aussies didn't go the way of the Spanish as well, and also help American Jews straddling the fence on this election recognize that a vote for Kerry is probably a vote for a sequal to the holocaust. Read it!

Cecil Turner

And Here's a good one from Victor Davis Hanson that makes the point Bush should have (victory in Iraq makes engaging Iran possible):

So there is an opportunity for a political dynamic to emerge that terrifies al Qaeda: an oil-rich democratic Iraqi state, near a similarly consensual Turkey and Afghanistan, with nuclear India, Russia, and Pakistan -- all hostile to Islamic fascists -- nearby.
He got a little carried away toward the end, though. (In particular, "sustained US bombing" is not a viable sequel to being asked to leave Iraq.)


Look, we're reading way too much into this. I'm Jewish, and I'm also somewhere between libertarian and Republican on the political spectrum. My support for Israel has nothing to do directly with being Jewish, because I'm not religious (at all). I'm American--not Israeli--and American I shall always remain. I support Israel because I support their democracy, and the fact that they include Jews, Christians, Muslims, Arabs and others as citizens. That is the fundamental reason Israel has always been a U.S. ally.

So back to the debate question. Iranian leaders have explicitly said that they would like to use Tel Aviv as a test site for a nuclear weapon, and now they could deliver one by missile. So the real question is--all accusations of Zionism aside--is that scenario acceptable to a U.S. President? If not, what would you do to prevent it? (Or would you simply respond forcefully if it happened?)


Maybe the question to ask is who are the people the President relies on to develope the policies of this administration. What previous and or current affiliations do these people have. The following list is probably a good start.

Elliott Abrams (PNAC)
Richard Armitage (PNAC)
John David Ashcroft
William J. Bennett (PNAC)
Jeffrey Bergner (PNAC)
John Bolton (PNAC)
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Eliot A. Cohen
Paula J. Dobriansky (PNAC)
John Doolittle
Douglas Jay Feith
David Frum
Francis Fukuyama (PNAC)
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Newt Gingrich
Bruce P. Jackson
Michael Johns
Robert Kagan (PNAC)
Zalmay Khalilzad (PNAC)
Jeane Kirkpatrick
Henry Kissinger
Charles Krauthammer
Irving Kristol
William Kristol (PNAC)
Michael Arthur Ledeen
Jay Lefkowitz
I. Lewis Scooter Libby
Richard N. Perle (PNAC)
Daniel Pipes
Norman Podhoretz
Howard Raines
Peter W. Rodman (PNAC)
Karl Rove
Donald H. Rumsfeld (PNAC)
Gary J. Schmitt
William Schneider, Jr. (PNAC)
Harlan Ullman
Vin Weber (PNAC)
Paul Dundes Wolfowitz (PNAC)
R. James Woolsey, Jr. (PNAC)
David Wurmser
Meyrav Wurmser
Robert B. Zoellick

Cecil Turner

"Iranian leaders have explicitly said that they would like to use Tel Aviv as a test site for a nuclear weapon, and now they could deliver one by missile."

Israel has far more, and better delivery systems as well. Unless they are completely irrational, the Iranian missile threat isn't credible. They are also the world's "most active" terror sponsor, and several terror groups have threatened WMD use on America. I'm not sure what support Israel needs on this particular issue, and I'd suggest self-interest is at least as strong.

Elf: I think Cheney, Powell, and Rice would be a better start. And I'm not sure why you think copying a NeoCon list would be persuasive.


Two things:

I guess we shouldn't be too suprised by Kerry not really mentioning Israel, as Israel apparently wasn't mentioned once in any major speeches at the Democratic Nat'l Conention either.

Second, een despite this, the democrats know they've got at least 60-75% of the Jewish vote in the bag already--as it's still taboo in many circles within the Jewish community to be a republican. However, times are changing and the Democratic party of the older members of the community is a far cry from the current one.


Iran has had a strategic goal for many years. Would recommend reading Bodansky's book on Bin Laden from 1998. Some of his claims in retrospect are off the mark, but I find his analysis of Iran to be quite interesting especially when you look at Sudan.

Cecil: That list is out there for anyone to see you are correct. But may I ask why you would add Powell?

The Kid

I’m not Jewish, was raised Roman Catholic (am now atheist), but agree with XSpyder’s attitude towards Israel and that country’s commitment to liberty, the rule of law, and survival.

I think Cecil Turner suggested that you look first within the administration rather than without (i.e., at the neocon list) because Bush’s foreign policy has several influences. In other words it’s incorrect to look at those on the neocon list and suppose that whatever the neocon ideology is drives the administration.

Here’s something to ponder: could it be that Bush is a problem-solver at heart – a pragmatist – and just didn’t like the mess in the Middle East that he’d inherited? His gut told him that Arafat was part of the problem, so he and his foreign policy team decided to isolate the billionaire despot – Rice, Powell, and even Rumsfeld played a roll in that. And they went after Saddam because the UN had been screwing around with Iraq for a decade, and the UNSC members were ready to remove sanctions – it was time to move.

I think it’s more helpful to view Bush as a pragmatist, a Jacksonian, and a guy who learned a lot while pursuing his MBA; he listens to his team, listens to outsiders, but relies on his gut for the direction to move out in. That explains more than the neocon label does.

Cecil Turner

"Would recommend reading Bodansky's book on Bin Laden from 1998."

I'll apologize in advance for a baseless accusation, but just after the departure of one pseudonymous comment-hijacker (who specializes in cryptic tangents in slightly clipped language), another appears. Color me suspicious. On point, if you believe this bit by Bodansky, at least the Iraq War makes sense:

Iraq's Saddam Hussein's defense against an imminent attack by the U.S. will be a strong offense -- including terrorist operations coordinated with Yasser Arafat and Osama bin Laden, writes a top terrorism expert in a new book.

Yossef Bodansky, author of "The High Cost of Peace," says joint preparations by Hussein, Arafat and al-Qaida for a new wave of anti-U.S. terror began last spring.

"But may I ask why you would add Powell?"

Why should the President's senior foreign policy advisor (and senior cabinet member after the Vice President) be added to the list of policy developers? Whether you're abb1 or not, if you really have to ask that question, I'm not terribly interested in continuing. Cheers.


I support Hindu India and Jewish Israel.
I support a not-particularly-religious Australia.
The common thread is democracy.

To me, not mentioning these particular countries does not mean an abandonment of them by either candidate. There may be strategic reasons for not doing so.

But I suspect much of the American Left is Pro-Palestenian/anti-Israeli. It's just another reason, IMO, not to support the modern Democratic Party. (And the list provided above by 'elf' only furthers that view.)

M. Simon


My mom is an old line Jewish Democrat and just can't bring herself to even contemplate voting Republican.

She really liked Lieberman. I explain that I did too and Lieberman's policies were in line (except for social issues) with Bush's policies.

It drives her nuts.

M. Simon


The heads of the Iranian government have already said that they are willing to undergo the destruction of Iran in exchange for the destruction of Israel.

They might be serious.

Do we want to put them to the test?


The New Republic reported on some polling that showed that us chosen people still supported the democrats. I don't think you can really makes gaffes of omission, as this post suggests. Besides, Edwards' vaguely cringeworthy anecdote may have been enoough to assure KE04's support for Israel, though it's argument- that proximity to a suicide bombing makes you a qualified VP-
was totally nonsensical.

Cecil Turner

"Do we want to put them to the test?"

What do you suggest? If they're truly irrational, you aren't likely to talk them out of it. If they're not, what threat do we have that Israel doesn't? (Double nuclear probation?)

In any event, I think we're arguing a moot point. A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the US because of their terror ties. And if we decide to "get tough with Iran," that should be the primary motivation. Supporting a democratic ally is well and good, but secondary. (And probably wouldn't justify a preemptive war, especially in light of their own perfectly adequate deterrent force.)

M. Simon


I think that a nuclear weapon lobbed at Israel would be a very bad thing for the US no matter if Israel was an enemy or ally.

In any case you are correct.

As long as Bush is in office it is a moot point.

About Kerry I'm not so sure.

Selling/giving nuclear fuel to Iran is a very bad idea.

Cecil Turner

"Selling/giving nuclear fuel to Iran is a very bad idea."

No argument (on that or the missile issue). And it joins a list of idiotic foreign policy statements from the tall senator.

But I think overemphasis on Israel when framing policy discussions can be a PR problem, both in the Mideast, and among the sizable chunk of the US polity who'd agree with Jack's statement above. And those perceptions can lead to truly regrettable distractions like Zinni's: "Somehow, the neocons captured the president. They captured the vice president."


Absolutely it's political suicide. No way can John Kerry ever aspire to Likud Party leadership now.

I was more concerned that he had no answer at all to the Iran question on Friday. I understand the need to keep repeating one's scripted talking points lest voters only hear them 20 instead of 25 times in the same evening. But Iran is a fairly large country, and I just think it looks bad for a Presidential candidate to look as if he has nothing at all to say about an important subject like this.

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