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Kristof to Democrats: Talk About Israel!

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Message Charles Lenchner

One of the most courageous and talented journalists in America today is Nicholas Kristof. He has traveled from the brothels of Cambodia (to rescue child-prostitutes) to the refugee camps of Darfur (to report on genocide) often at great personal risk. On March 18, 2007 he took what may be seen as his greatest professional risk. Namely, he took on the Israel Lobby in his column Talking About Israel.

Read it with a deep sigh of relief, because Kristof is a powerful ally to Palestinians and Israelis seeking peace. This is in part a result of his deep and widely respected humanism. But it’s also because over the past few years, his concern for Darfurian victims of genocide in the Sudan was championed by an impressive array of American Jewish leaders. Select quotes include these gems:

“There is no serious political debate among either Democrats or Republicans…” regarding Israel.

“American politicians have learned to muzzle themselves.”

“American politicians just don’t get it.”

“Hard-line Israeli policies have profoundly harmed that country’s long-term security….”

“… [S]ecurity for Israel will emerge only from a peace agreement.…”

“…[L]et’s be better friends—and stop biting our tongues.”

Never mind that these views are practically the consensus among journalists, diplomats, scholars and most American Jews; what matters is that our political elites behave as though they were the captive of a small yet powerful special interest group. An interest group that shrewdly manipulates reasonable concerns regarding terrorism, Israel’s survival and anti-Semitism to silence, smear and defame any opposition.

Democratic Party activists are gearing up for a wonderfully open primary race. While no one expects über-war supporter and AIPAC cheerleader Hillary Clinton to evolve - nor would anyone believe it - there is still room for pressuring other worthy candidates, such as John Edwards and Barak Obama. Some of us have been thinking about such a campaign for some time, but now it’s official. Thank you, Nicholas Kristoff, for kicking it off. Let’s hold our leaders - esp. the Democratic nominees for the Presidency - accountable on the Israel debate.

Join us in saying thank you to Nicholas Kristoff and demanding a real conversation on US policy towards Israel.

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Charles Lenchner grew up in Israel and was a refusenik during the first Intifada. He lives in Brooklyn.
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