John Kerry On Israel: Second To Several by Rick Richman

Folks, this article was writen by Rick Richman, who writes for the Jewish Press, and it’s about John Kerry’s dubious pro-Israel voting record. Read it, and then let all your Jewish friends who are avowed Democrats to read it. Hopefully, this article will prove John Kerry has no love for Israel.

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Someone who read an abbreviated version of “Kerry, Carter and Israel” (my front-page essay in the May 5 issue of The Jewish Press) wrote that he was unconcerned about Kerry, because his pro-Israel voting record was “second to none,” he had “fought” the attempt by the first President Bush in the early 1990`s to cut loan guarantees to Israel, and he had endorsed Israel`s recent actions against the leaders of Hamas.

I was intrigued by the suggestion that Kerry`s pro-Israel record was “second to none,” so I looked it up.

The Jewish Virtual Library lists Kerry`s vote on 60 Senate bills, resolutions and other matters: “Legislative Record of Senator John Kerry on Issues of Concern to the Pro-Israel Community” (www.us-israel.org/jsource/US-Israel/kerryrecord.html).

I disregarded the 17 measures that passed with 90 or more votes (out of a possible 100), on grounds that these were not exactly profile-in-courage moments.

(That includes Kerry`s “fight” for loan guarantees to Israel, which consisted of his joining 98 other senators in 1992 in voting for Sen. Lautenberg`s resolution of support).

Then I discounted the 18 measures that garnered between 82 and 89 votes. You don`t get a “second to none” rating by simply hanging around with the 80-plus percent crowd.

I decided the best indicator of the depth of Kerry`s support would be the instances where the pro-Israel position got 60 votes or less — by definition the most controversial situations, the ones where Kerry`s vote mattered most.

There were 10 of those votes in the JVL list, and Kerry`s record there was . . . envelope please . . . six pro-Israel votes out of 10. So in the close-call category, Kerry was basically a 60-40 guy.

The JVL list notes that, in connection with the FY 2000 Foreign Aid Conference Report, Kerry opposed the pro-Israel position. In 2000, he failed to join 60 co-sponsors of the “Middle East Peace Process Support Act”, a bill calling on the president not to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. He also failed to co-sponsor the pro-Israel “Peace Through Negotiations Act,” which attracted 60 co-sponsors.

In 1993, Kerry failed to join 55 senators signing the Grassley/Lautenberg letter to the State Department, which demanded that it include Hamas in its annual report on terrorism.

Earlier this year, after the assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin, Kerry exasperated even the Forward — the paper that, two weeks before the New York primary, had dutifully reported to the Jewish community Kerry`s assertion that the reason he had named Jimmy Carter as his prospective Middle East envoy was a “staff mistake.”

The Forward repeatedly sought Kerry`s reaction to the assassination, but could not get a response. On March 30, 2004, it reported that John Kerry`s campaign last week used the excuse that the senator was on vacation in Idaho to dodge repeated requests from the Forward for a statement from him on Israel`s assassination of Hamas head Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. It is still dodging the matter.

On April 18, 2004 — nearly one month after the Yassin assassination — Kerry appeared on “Meet the Press” and was asked directly about his position:

MR. RUSSERT: Israel assassinated Hamas leader Rantisi. Do you support that assassination?

SEN. KERRY: I believe Israel has every right in the world to respond to any act of terror against it. Hamas is a terrorist, brutal organization. It has had years to make up its mind to take part in a peaceful process. They refuse to. Arafat refuses to. And I support Israel`s efforts to try to separate itself and to try to be secure. The moment Hamas says, “We`ve given up violence, we`re prepared to negotiate,” I am absolutely confident they will find an Israel that is thirsty to have that negotiation.

Notice that he did not answer the question. (If you think he did, re-read the answer and then take this short quiz: Would John Kerry (a) support or (b) oppose an Israeli assassination of Yasir Arafat?). And Kerry`s suggestion that Hamas need only say it has “given up” violence and is “prepared to negotiate” seems on a par with his statement that Israel should simply pick up where things left off at Taba and negotiate.

When you combine all this with Kerry`s untrue “staff mistake” statement to the Jewish community in February, his castigation in December of President Bush`s policy on the “peace process” as part of a foreign policy gone “radically wrong” — followed less than three months later by his announcement of “complete” support of President Bush in that area — there is legitimate cause for concern about Kerry`s steadfastness in this area. Senate votes are easy. A consistent, candid position seems to be a little harder.

In any event, it is not a “second to none” record — although Kerry is campaigning as if it were. In mid-April, campaigning in Florida, Kerry assured hisaudience, according to the Washington Post, that his record on Israel was perfect:

For 20 years, Joe [Lieberman] will tell you, I have a 100 percent record — not a 99, a 100 percent record — of sustaining the special relationship, the friendship that we have with Israel.

His actual record is more nuanced.

Rick Richman edits “Jewish Current Issues” at http://www.rrichman.blogspot.com/

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