Let's forget about 50 years or even 2000 years of Arab-Israeli conflict with arguments for each side raging back and forth.
Let's just look at the history of the last 3 years. In 2005 Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza.Militarily... plus 8000 residents, all out. The Gazans had a land of their own. How did they respond? By firing thousands of rockets targeted at Israeli civilians.
Imagine living in Texas or Arizona and having rockets fired at by Mexico. No American government would tolerate that. And if they didn't take action they would be violating the most important function of government-keeping the people safe.
Israel has endured this for 3 years (actually 8 going back to 2001, but I'm dealing only with the post withdrawal period). That they even waited this long to act is a testament to how much they have tried to avoid this. I rest my case
I think the main problem here was when Spitzer picked Senate Democratic Leader David Patterson as his candidate for Lt. Governor. Patterson had been focused on making inroads in the State Senate, but pretty much abandoned his efforts after joining the Spitzer team. It is pretty hard for a team to perform properly when they have no leader.
AIPAC does not set their own agenda. AIPAC represents the duly elected government of Israel, regardless of which party happens to be in power at that time. During the 1990's when the official Israeli government policy was in favor of the Oslo process, AIPAC supported it as well.
Without getting into a whole discussion on the Middle East situation, the current breakdown is directly linked to the PA and Yasser Arafat walking away from negotiations after Camp David and beginning the intifada, as well as the corruption within Fatah which led to the election of the current Hamas government.
The progressive community would do well to follow the lead of Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York whose progressive bonafides are unmatched, yet he is still a strong and vigorous supporter of Israel.
I have never met a single Democrat who was 'anti-Israel.'
How about the Rev. Al Sharpton, whom Ned Lamont foolishly let stand right behind him at his victory party. Or perhaps soon to be former Rep. Cynthia McKinney. Or have we forgotten former President Jimmy Carter who has publicly stated that Israel is the prime obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Look it hurts me to say it but the fact is that my party, the Democratic Party is not as supportive of Israel as the Republican Party.
The point is not that Hezbollah started first. It is that every country has the right to be free of aggression. You can argue over Israel's conduct of this war, and there are lots of legitimate questions on that, but the fact is that according to opinion polls in Israel about 80% of the population backs the Government on this one. Imagine living here in New York, and having missiles being fired at us from Canada. Which American government, Democrat or Republican would not respond.
I know Israel is far from perfect and they have made many mistakes. But during the Clinton years you had the Arabs showing a moderate face. It was only after Camp David,( which President Clinton himself blames Arafat for its failure) and which coincided with the end of the Clinton administration, that the Palestinians turned to terror.
I'm not accusing anyone here of not being pro- Israel. I just think there is some real naiveté going on here.
I am really disappointed by this entire thread. I am a proud progressive Democrat who has been a reader and occasional poster at MYDD, since the 2002 midterm elections, when I followed Jerome's forecasts. I have worked for Democratic candidates for over 30 years, and was recently employed by one of the most progressive members of the New York City Council. I am also a proud orthodox Jew and was very troubled when large numbers of my fellow orthodox voted for Bush in 2004. So troubled in fact that I am working with a few other like minded orthodox to try to stem the tide of orthodox jews migrating to the GOP.
Having said this, it is threads like this that make our job so difficult. This plays right into the RJC talking points that Democrats do not support Israel. There is no contradiction between being a progressive democrat, even on Iraq and other foreign policy issues, and being robustly pro Israel. Again I use myself as an example. I have been opposed to the Iraq misadventure from the very beginning.I was also a staunch supporter of the Oslo process during the entire 1990's, as was most of the established American Jewish Community. During the Camp David summit of July 2000, I prayed daily for its success.
However the events of the past 6 years have completely turned me. Arafat spurned Barak's offer of a Palestinian State at Camp David, and instead of continuing negotiations in good faith, leashed waves of suicide bombers that killed youngsters waiting to get into a disco, families having lunch at a Pizza Parlor, worshippers returning from prayers at the Western Wall, holiday guests enjoying a Passover Seder and hundreds more. There is no need to go into an entire history lesson of the last six years. Suffice it to say that even New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who has been accused by many critics of being anti-Israel gets it now. To paraphrase him, Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, and got a Hezbollah state within a state at their borders, getting armed to the teeth by Syria and Iran. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and instead of the Palestinians showing the world they could actually conduct their own affairs, build industries and schools, they decided to launch Quassam rockets at Israeli civilians. It goes on and on.
Hezbollah's aggression started this conflict, and Israel has every right to defend herself by all legitimate means and try to destroy the Hezbollah infrastructure. This has nothing to do with AIPAC. This is just clear minded thinking.I was in Washington a few weeks ago and I heard Chuck Schumer give a speech in which he said. "I disagree with George Bush on most things, but on Israel he gets it right". I know it may be heresy to say this on this site, but I agree with him, even though I know that on almost every other issue, Bush has been a disaster for this country and has set us back on a course which will take years to recover from, if we hopefully get a Democratic President in 2008.
And as to Bolton. I opposed him vehemently last time, and thought Bush pushing him through as a recess appointment was a sinister move. But I am leaning towards supporting him now. The UN has traditionally been a bastion of Israel bashing, and Bolton has shown himself to be a true friend of Israel. My apologies for going on so long, but I had to get this out. I agree with my friends here in the Mydd community about 95% of the time but we may have to agree to disagree on this one.
The 10 "orthodox rabbis" that you refer to are part of a radical group called "Neturei Karta", or watchers of the city.The groups numbers worldwide are probably about 2-300, and they are ostracized by the entire jewish community including the bulk of the ultra-orthodox, even those who nominally oppose Zionism.
There are many orthodox who happen to oppose Zionism, but Neturei Karta has met and comported with some of the worlds most notorious characters. Moshe Hirsch of Jerusalem, who calls himself the "Palestinian Minister of Jewish Affairs",was a regular visitor of Yasser Arafat, even pre-Oslo. Members of the group also recently traveled to Iran to meet top government officials, whose president has denied the Holocaust and called for Israel to be wiped off the map.
By you sympathizing with this group, you have fallen right into their hands. This is exactly why they attend these gatherings (while also violating the Sabbath yesterday, I must add), to have folks believe they are some peace loving group. They are nothing but traiterous, Hamas and Hezbollah supporters.
There is a very distinct line between protesting Israeli policies, and standing in solidarity with enemies sworn to Israel's destruction. Neturei Karta regularly does both. (See their website below) http://www.nkusa.org/
The problem is this idiotic war in Iraq was always the wrong war. I have heard Congressman Jerry Nadler say many times that an Iran with nuclear weapons is a true threat to the United States.They are religious fanatics who would just as soon blow themselves up along with the US and Israel. Saddam, on the other hand, was never a threat. He was just a thug like a few dozen other such sorts who was more concerned with his own survival than anything else.
But unfortunately because of the ill advised Iraq misadventure, too many Americans are losing their stomach for what would be a proper war.In addition there are two other obstacles.1)our troops are too tied up in Iraq and 2)the Bush administration cannot be trusted to conduct even a legitimate war, as they messed up in Afghanistan which was a legitimate effort to get Osama yet they let him go at Tora Bora.
I appeal to my friends here in the blogosphere and the progressive community. Don't be so quick to ever rule out military action to protect our interests. It just has to be a real threat and conducted by an administration that has America's goals, not the goals of the right-wing community.
This one is a real shame because as you indicated we have a huge registration edge here.Two years ago Fossella was opposed by Frank Barbaro an ultra-leftist candidate running in a conservative leaning district and still managed to get over 40%.There is no question that a mainstream Democrat can give Fossella a real run.
The best candidate would have been State Senator Diane Savino. She represents both the Brooklyn and Staten Island portions of the district and has strong labor ties. But she was first elected 2 years ago, is up for re-election this year and it would have been a lot to ask for her to give up a safe seat to run in what would be a very difficult race.
What's really too bad is that there are two City Councilmen, Michael McMahon and Vincent Gentile, who would both be attractive candidates, yet this week both decided against running. See
Neither one was up for re-election this year, having both been re-elected in 2005, so they could have easily ran and still would have had a seat to return to had they fallen short. Now it appears that the candidate will be attorney Stephen Harrison. While Harrison is bright and hard working, and would make a fine congressman, he has never been elected to office,and has virtually zero name recognition especially in Staten Island.There seems to be almost no scenario for him to beat Fossella.
If come next November the Democrats come up a bit short in their bid to take back the House, this is one seat that they will look back and rue a lost opportunity.
Scott Stringer won this race mainly because he garnered most of the establishment and labor support. Eva Moskowitz has burned plenty of bridges because of her abrasive personality, and more so because of hearings she held as Chair of the Council Education Committee that took on Randi Weingarten and the UFT over elements in the teachers contract, that was widely perceived as political grandstanding.
The feeling is that even if somehow Freddy ends up below 40%, in order for Anthony to possibly win he would have to bloody the party,cause major racial strains,and basically hand the election to Bloomberg in November. And the consensus is that when the absentee ballots are counted Ferrer will be over 40% anyhow. Weiner surged late and absentee ballots are filled out earlier.
As of now the conventional wisdom has been that with Taft so ethically challenged, the seat was there for the picking in 2006. This may not be the case anymore. If Taft resigns, come November 2006, he may be already forgotten. Look what happened in Connecticut. Rowland was an albatross around the Republican party there. When he resigned and went to jail, Jody Rell became Governor. Her approval ratings are better than 70% and if she decides to run (which looks incrasingly likely) she will be a slam dunk. I fear a similar thing may happen in Ohio.
It is crucial to elect Democratic governors in Ohio and Florida in 2006, and then get them re-elected in 2010. At the same time make sure there is a Democratic succesor to Rendell in Pennsylvania. Unless we see a real "wave" election in one of the next few cycles on the scale of a 1974, 1980, 1986, or 1994. it is unrealistic to expect the House to change hands before the next round of redistricting. And Democratic governors in those states will make sure that even if the state legislatures are controlled by Republicans, they will not be able to run roughshod and create a redistricting plan without a gubernatorial veto.
Another potential place to gain seats is here in New York where the Democrats have a real chance to retake the Senate by the end of the decade. That, togther with the presumed governorship of Elliot Spitzer and Democratic control of the Assembly will assure control over redistricting. Even though New York will most likely lose 1 to 2 seats we should make sure that they are Republican ones.