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www.aljazeerah.info 

John Kerry: More Pro-Israeli Than Bush?

By Barbara Ferguson

Arab News

 

NEW YORK, 6 August 2004 — The US presidential elections are just three months away, and both President Bush and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry are vying for the Jewish vote.

Kerry has not only announced his pro-Israel position, but also released a paper for the Jewish community mid-June, entitled: “John Kerry: Strengthening Israel’s Security and Bolstering the US-Israel Special Relationship.”

“John Kerry has been at the forefront of the fight for Israel’s security during his 19 years in the US Senate,” it says. “His pro-Israel voting record is second to none.”

The document attempts to portray his pro-Israel credentials as being as strong as, if not stronger than, Bush’s. The document says, for instance, “Israel’s cause must be America’s cause.”

Kerry expressed support for Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Gaza, saying that after a final settlement Palestinians must settle outside Israel, and backed the Israeli plan to annex some West Bank settlements, as Bush does. The paper also reaffirmed Kerry’s support for Israel’s Spring 2002 offensive against Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

The document pledged that a Kerry administration would work to strengthen Israel’s economy by helping jump-start the high-tech sector and investing further in Israeli-made homeland security technologies.

The policy paper is Kerry’s attempt to alleviate concerns of pro-Israel voters still upset over Kerry’s comments during the primaries, in which he criticized the Israeli construction of the wall in the West Bank.

In October 2003, Kerry told members of the Arab-American Institute, a month after he had announced his candidacy: “I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government’s decision to build a barrier off the ‘Green Line,’ cutting deeply into Palestinian areas. We do not need another barrier to peace.” He said the barrier was a “provocative and counterproductive measure” that was not in Israel’s interest.

Now Kerry has reversed his position on the West Bank barrier, which was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice. “The security fence is a legitimate act of self-defense erected in response to the wave of attacks against Israeli citizens. John Kerry believes the security fence is not a matter for the International Court of Justice.”

Pro-Israel groups have been quick to say that Kerry’s apparent capitulation over the wall is a victory for Israel. The website of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful Washington-based lobbying group, described Kerry as expressing “support for the security fence that Israel is erecting along the West Bank.”

A leaked draft of the Democratic Party platform and recent statements by Kerry note that a Democratic White House would continue the Bush administration’s enthusiastic support for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The Forward, a Jewish paper based in New York, recently mentioned Kerry’s criticism of Bush’s record on fighting anti-Semitism and the war on terror. It referred to points by Kerry that were distributed by his senior adviser on Middle East and Jewish affairs, Jay Footlik.

Kerry said: “I believe that I can run a far more effective war on terror and do better by Israel...because I think the sweetheart relationship between this administration and Saudi Arabia and the lack of willingness of this administration to hold Arab countries accountable for their newspaper articles, for their anti-Semitism, for their conspiracy theories, to stop the funding that goes to Hezbollah, to Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, to Hamas, has not made the world safer and has not protected Israel.”

As for Sen. John Edward, the vice presidential hopeful, Forward says he “scored high marks among pro-Israel Democrats...Lionel Kaplan, a former AIPAC president, said he is ‘very happy’ with Kerry’s choice, which he said, ‘reinforces’ the Massachusetts senator’s ‘outstanding record’ on Israel.

AIPAC gave its official seal of approval, and its spokesman Andrew Schwartz said Edwards always has been a ‘strong supporter of the US-Israel relationship’ and that Edwards traveled to Israel in 2001 on a trip organized in part by an AIPAC-linked group,” the paper said.

 

 



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