At a time when Israel faces near universal condemnation for the May 30th killings of eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish American aboard the Gaza bound Mavi Marmara, and worldwide rebuke for its continued blockade of Gaza and ongoing expansion into Jerusalem and the West Bank, American midterm candidates still pandered for pro-Israel money and votes during this 2010 midterm election.
Cognizant of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) financial support for American politicians who legislate on Israel's behalf, allegiance to Israel played a role in several of this year's races.
Some candidates employed the "you don't support Israel enough" tack against opponents. Republican Pat Toomey, victorious in the Pennsylvania Senate race, used this tactic against his Democratic challenger, Congressman Joe Sestak.
In the three-way California Republican Senate primary between Tom Campbell, Chuck DeVore and Carly Fiorina, Campbell was challenged by several camps, including the Weekly Standard, on his Israel allegiance. Fiorina went on to win that primary, but lost in the general to incumbent Democrat, Senator Barbara Boxer.
In California's 36th Congressional District, a hotly fought Israel-centric primary was waged between pro-Israel incumbent and blue dog Democrat, Jane Harman, and Marcy Winograd, her progressive Democrat opponent who's been a vocal critic of Israel's human rights abuses. Harman and Winograd are both Jewish.
The Harman/Winograd battle reached a hyperbolic crescendo, when at Harman's request, her longtime colleague, Henry Waxman (CA-30), powerful Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and die-hard Israel/AIPAC loyalist, sent a letter to Harman's Jewish constituents that vilified Winograd's criticism of Israel as "repugnant in the extreme." Waxman's letter caused such a stir that many issues relevant to 36th district constituents went unaddressed because of the heated focus on Israel.
Winograd ultimately lost to Harman, but not before Henry Waxman was questioned by The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim about his loyalty to America. In that conversation, Waxman declared his primary loyalty was to the United States.
In Illinois, a Republican versus Democrat smack-down for the Senate seat previously held by President Obama, was particularly raucous. Republican Congressman Mark Kirk of the 10th District of Illinois, who'd been deemed "Israel's best friend in Congress" by the Jew, Jews, Jewish blog, loudly touted his pro-Israel credentials. In fact, the five-term Congressman, himself not Jewish, went so far as to have Kirk For Congress scrawled in Hebrew on his Senate campaign site, along with his many accomplishments on behalf of Israel. Considering that Jews in Illinois speak English and don't live in Hebrew speaking enclaves, the use of Hebrew on candidate Kirk's website is perhaps a bit extreme.
Kirk's opponent, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, who's middle east policy supports Israeli and Palestinian equality, was harshly targeted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for donating to the Committee For A Just Peace In Israel And Palestine; a peace and justice organization that lists the following as its mission and goals:
The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine is a diverse, community-based group dedicated to organizing local activities and educational events that advance the cause of peace and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis. We support efforts for resolution of this conflict that combine vision with pragmatism. At this point in time, we have adopted, as the most hopeful path toward evolution of a just peace, the following organizational principles:
- Support for equal rights and access to resources for all inhabitants of the region, based on principles of social, economic, environmental, and political justice.
- Support for peace and justice activities in Israel, Palestine, and the U.S.
- An end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, in accordance with international law and U.N. resolutions.
- An end to U.S. policies that sustain the occupation.
- International support for an equitable and just negotiation process.
- A resolution to the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with international law and human rights principles.