Seven questions for Jersey politicians on Israel

Seven questions for Jersey politicians on Israel

Mazal tov.

William and Kate have a baby. America goes wild.

I’ve always been mystified with America’s fixation with royalty. This republic was founded because our fathers found their sovereign so revolting that they kicked him out 237 years ago.

America has no king. All are equal. This a meritocracy. Everything has to be earned.

Truth regardless of consequences I was intrigued at a recent fundraiser for my dear friend Mayor Cory Booker of Newark when a member of the Jewish community introduced him, saying, “I’m speaking to you under the halachic guidelines for addressing a king.” He was serious. As the fundraiser went on, not a single substantive question about Israel or Middle East policy was asked. Because Cory – whom I brought to the Jewish community 20 years ago, taught the Torah, and whom I wholeheartedly endorse for Senate – is one of the finest friends the American Jewish community has produced, he was given a pass on policy toward Israel.

This is unfair to both the candidate and the pro-Israel community. Cory is a serious candidate, who has visited Israel three times. He has strong opinions on Israel and would no doubt find the idea of simply being asked questions about the parashah of the week – which we study regularly – to be an inadequate substitute for serious and substantive discussion on Israel.

The same is true of another stalwart friend of the Jewish community, Chris Christie. His support for yeshivas does not presuppose a position on Israel, which he should be asked to state plainly and clearly.

Now that I am being attacked by some in the media for making Cory “too Jewish,” it is important to clarify that friendship with the Jewish community and stalwart support for Israel are different things.

With Israel facing existential threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, and with pandemonium in Egypt, every candidate who wants the support of the Jewish community should answer core questions:

1. Do you support Israel’s right to a preemptive strike against Iran?

2. Do you believe the United States should strike Iran if it does not stop enriching uranium? What is your red line?

3. Will you insist on the United States moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

4. If you support a two-state solution, will you insist that a Palestinian state remain demilitarized and that terrorist organizations like Hamas not control its government?

5. Do you support Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas in Gaza?

6. Will you link American financial support of the United Nations to an end to biased resolutions against Israel?

7. Will you link American financial support of countries like Egypt to an end to any participation in the deligitimization of Israel through government organs?

Even our closest friends and allies must answer these question. Their position on Israel must be clear.

One of the reasons I ran for Congress last year was my opponent Bill Pascrell’s record on Israel. He was one of the few members of Congress to sign the Gaza 54 letter, condemning Israel for “collective punishment” against the Palestinians, and he supported Imam Mohammed Qatanani of Paterson despite Homeland Security’s efforts to deport the cleric for lying about his Hamas membership.

Neither Aipac nor Norpac asked Pascrell tough questions on Israel. They endorsed him as a friendly incumbent because of his record of voting for Israel aid. The message to Pascrell was that he could receive pro-Israel support – even against a rabbi – based on a low bar. So it should not have been surprising that on May 19, in an astonishing act, Pascrell participated in raising a Palestinian flag atop Paterson City Hall. I wonder whether the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, its unwillingness to rein in terrorism, its treatment of women, and its continued anti-Semitic school curriculum earned it the right to fly its flag there.

Last week, Samantha Power invited me to her Senate confirmation hearings as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. I have been a strong advocate for her within the pro-Israel community. The Washington Post and Foreign Policy Magazine said I had “kosher’ed her” for her nomination. That is a stretch. I supported her because Samantha had the humility and courage to repudiate previous statements about Israel and has emerged as one of Israel’s most vocal public supporters. “The United States has no greater friend in the world than the state of Israel,” she said in her opening remarks.

Next week I will be taking “America’s Doctor” Mehmet Oz on his first trip to Israel. Oz is Muslim and of Turkish extraction. He said, “My family and I are visiting Israel, the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, in an effort to better understand the source of the universal Jewish values that have so positively impacted on the world and the place from which they stem. I speak for many in Turkey who treasure our long friendship with Israel and remain optimistic that there is a path for reconciliation based on our shared values.”

If we can obtain such positive pro-Israel remarks from someone who is not running for anything, should we not expect at least as much from those who seek our votes?