Politicians pandering to Israel


Netanyahu's Defiance of U.S. Resonates at Home
Polls Show Resistance to Settlement Freeze

By Howard Schneider
Washington Post, 2009-08-19

[An excerpt.]

Ateret Cohanim, an organization active in promoting
Jewish construction in Jerusalem’s contested neighborhoods,
this week hosted
former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate
Mike Huckabee
on a tour of projects --
including a cocktail party
at the site of a proposed Jerusalem apartment complex
that the Obama administration has singled out for criticism.
Huckabee said the trip was arranged in recent weeks
as part of a developing response
to Obama’s demands on Israel.

Members of Congress praised Netanyahu’s first months in office
on a recent tour of Israel,
and even Obama allies such as House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.)
suggested that
the onus was on the Palestinians to open talks
with or without a settlement freeze.

“There have been
some very positive things that have happened under Netanyahu,
and I think that [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas
ought to take the opportunity to engage,”
Hoyer said in an interview last week with the Jerusalem Post
while on a trip sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,
a lobbying group.
Despite the administration’s concern that
construction of Jewish housing in East Jerusalem neighborhoods
could prejudge the future boundaries
of a city that both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital,
Hoyer said
Jerusalem “is a whole,” adding:
“My view is that it will remain whole.”


Slavery in America? You bet — listen to Obama and Romney
by Michael Scheuer
non-intervention.com, 2012-03-05

[The conclusion of Scheuer’s column:]

One can only imagine that at the end of a day in which
Obama and Romney tugged their forelocks in obedience to this fifth-column,
the AIPAC big-wigs must have joined their war-mongering Neocon operatives,
retreated to Legree’s Big House restaurant,
and enjoyed a lavish meal that resembled the barbeque-picnic scene
from Gone With the Wind.
There, over cigars and bourbon,
they surely laughed heartily at the memory of
the music-less minstrel show they had just watched,
one in which two servile men masqueraded as U.S. leaders
and, in their search for lucre,
had willingly demeaned
the security, integrity, manliness, independence, and future
of the American Republic.


Cuomo Arrives in Israel, as Politicians Scramble to Book Visits of Solidarity
New York Times, 2014-08-14

JERUSALEM — It is high season for travel to the Holy Land.

Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg squeezed onto an El Al commercial flight in an everyman’s show of support. Members of Congress, eager to report back to their constituents, are carving time out of their schedules.

And on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, who has resolutely avoided anything resembling the résumé-burnishing travel of a presidential hopeful, arrived here for a state-sized state visit that included a stop at the Western Wall. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, eager to showcase the support of prominent American leaders, set aside time for a meeting and remarks from side-by-side lecterns.

[Palestinian Invitation to Cuomo Is Declined AUG. 12, 2014]

Amid the fighting in Gaza, more and more American officials are booking trips here. The visits are mutually beneficial: The Israeli government, which has suffered withering international criticism, gets special guests to help make its case. And for American politicians, nothing demonstrates solidarity like actually showing up.

The well-publicized travel is documented through Twitter posts, news releases and, in Mr. Cuomo’s case, a gaggle of traveling reporters craning their necks to hear every word.

“We know you’re going through a very difficult time, and that’s precisely why we are here,” Mr. Cuomo told Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, on his first stop after a redeye flight with leaders of the New York Legislature.

New York has the largest population of Jewish residents outside Israel, so its officeholders have ample incentive to travel here, and many of them are doing just that. But Mr. Cuomo’s trip — his first international travel since taking office as governor in 2011 — is striking, because he seemed to take a rare step toward grappling with issues beyond the statehouse stalemates in which he has otherwise immersed himself.

The trip also gave Mr. Cuomo, who more than perhaps any other potential Democratic presidential contender in 2016 has been eclipsed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the chance to one-up her.

In an interview published over the weekend, Mrs. Clinton gave such a strong defense of the Israeli government that prominent critics called her “Israel’s lawyer.” But Mr. Cuomo is going further, making political aliyah
[So much for my education.
I have no idea what "aliyah" means, aside from guessing from the context.]

with his two-day visit, and bringing with him a group of reporters holding last-minute airline tickets.


Late last month, Representative Steve Israel, a Democrat from Long Island, took the stage at an enormous rally in support of Israel in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza below the United Nations and offered a declaration.

“I am traveling to Israel,” he told the crowd, “because not only do we stand up for Israel in New York, we stand up for Israel in Israel.”

Mr. Israel ended up traveling there as part of a planned delegation of nine members of Congress. But the timing of the trip, which was organized by a nonprofit group affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, proved fortuitous.

On Monday, fresh off his trip, Mr. Israel briefed the Democratic caucus via conference call about his experience. Afterward, he said he received several emails from fellow members “asking how they can get over there.”

In a deeply polarized Congress where fraternizing across the aisle is uncommon, showing support for Israel has become a rare issue upon which Democrats and Republicans can agree.

“It’s couscous diplomacy,” Mr. Israel said, adding that his delegation, composed of four Democrats and three Republicans, ate every meal together on their trip.

Another congressman from Long Island, Peter T. King, a Republican, is planning to travel to Israel later this month for a two-day visit.

Representative King was invited by Malcolm I. Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who said members of Congress had been reaching out to him.

“This morning I was called about another trip involving members of Congress,” Mr. Hoenlein said. “Very often it’s people calling us and saying, ‘Is there a trip going that I can join?' ”

One of the more influential non-Jewish organizations, Christians United for Israel, itself organized a trip to Israel on Aug. 4 for 51 pastors — one from each state and the District of Columbia — who visited Mount Herzl, where they read the biographies of some of the fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

“There were a lot of wet eyes,” the group’s executive director, David Brog, said. He added that he had been approached by the team of Rick Santorum, the former senator and Republican presidential candidate, about a possible trip.

Even progressive Jewish groups who have been more measured in their support for the war, and have expressed wariness at the lack of recognition for the high numbers of Palestinian casualties, have organized trips.

Two weeks ago, J Street, which was established as a more liberal alternative to Aipac, sent an “emergency mission” of 15 members of its executive board and student leaders to show support to Israel “and all victims who are suffering from this horrible crisis.”

Perhaps no state has seen more politicians flocking to Israel than New York, where at times it has seemed as if the campaign trail leads through Jerusalem.

“I said that if and when I won the primary, the first thing I was going to do was take a trip to Israel,” said Kathleen M. Rice, a Democratic district attorney on Long Island who is seeking to represent a congressional district with a large Jewish population.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

Ms. Rice traveled there last month. “I felt that there was no better time to publicly show my support for Israel than while her people are under attack,” she said.

The Manhattan borough president, Gale Brewer, will visit Israel on Sunday, and at her own expense, at the behest of the West Side’s Council of Jewish Organizations. She said Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, was also expected to go.

Dov Hikind, a state assemblyman whose Brooklyn district includes heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods like Borough Park, also traveled to Israel last month. He immediately headed south and checked into a hotel in Beersheba, not far from Gaza.

“The first thing they gave me were instructions on how to run for cover,” Assemblyman Hikind said.

Indeed, at breakfast at the hotel one morning, a siren suddenly blared, instructing Mr. Hikind and his breakfast companions to do just that.

“It’s something I will never forget the rest of my life,” he said. “You’re running and hiding and you think, ‘Where’s that missile going to fall?' ”

Mr. Cuomo’s trip, with a delegation that also includes his brother-in-law Kenneth Cole, the designer, and the newspaper publisher Mortimer B. Zuckerman, was less fraught with danger, at least on Wednesday, when much of the day was slated for meetings with dignitaries in Jerusalem. The Cuomo contingent landed around midday local time at Ben Gurion Airport.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Cuomo, dressed casually in chinos and a striped shirt with an extra button left unfastened, left his space in business class and took a lap around the coach section of the El Al flight carrying his delegation to Tel Aviv, posing for pictures and chatting with passengers.

Mimi Staub, a native New Yorker who now lives in Boca Raton, Fla., was on her way to attend her great-grandson’s bar mitzvah in Jerusalem. She asked Mr. Cuomo how his father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, was doing.

A few minutes later, as flight attendants served dinner, Ms. Staub offered a pragmatic take on the governor’s visit.

“He wants the Jewish vote,” she said.
“It’s nice to know he’s on Israel’s side,
because there are too many people who aren’t,
[Really? Like who?]
but it’s about politics.”


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