As the president of NORPAC, I have been asked why we have chosen to support the challenger Scott Sipprelle running against incumbent Cong. Rush Holt to represent the12th District of New Jersey.
The reason is straightforward: We believe that Sipprelle will be an active and effective supporter of the United States-Israel relationship, while Holt has been a serious disappointment on that score. Now, when both Israel and the United States face unprecedented threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others, it is critical that we make every effort to ensure maximum support in Congress for Israel and its relationship with the United States.
Although we generally support incumbents, NORPAC in recent years has been involved in the campaigns of opponents of certain sitting members of Congress. We successfully worked to defeat Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard, who were both aggressively hateful toward Israel.
We are fortunate that most of Congress agrees, as do the vast majority of Americans, that being a staunch supporter of Israel is the proper role for our nation. Congress has consistently been there to assist the White House when it has diverted from its mandate by the American people to support the Jewish state. The role of representatives and senators to encourage and sometimes demand that the U.S. executive power do everything it can to ensure Israel’s welfare and survival cannot be overstated.
Even someone like myself who was deeply involved in the McCain campaign is immensely proud that America could transition, in my lifetime, from a country of Jim Crow laws of segregation and quotas for Jews to a nation that would elect a black president. This presidency represents the hopes and aspirations of a nation that would be free of racial hatred and prejudice. That is why it is indescribably painful to hear this administration dictate where Jews may and may not live in Israel – why it is such a missed opportunity for this administration not to demand an end to the schooling of genocide to Palestinian children as a prerequisite to funding. Policies intended to end prejudice are expectations of any administration, but this president has a greater responsibility to be centered where history has given him the opportunity to lead. The Obama administration has had other early missteps on U.S.-Israel relations, such as its threat to abandon the longstanding U.S. policy of vetoing U.N. resolutions that are patently unfair and anti-Israel. It is due to pushback from members of Congress like Steve Rothman, Robert Menendez, Harry Reid, and others that the administration is retrenching and looking to improve U.S.-Israel relations and re-establish America’s historic role as Israel’s most steadfast friend. This is why the makeup of Congress is so vital.
Our expectations for every member of Congress, especially Rush Holt, a congressman with a large pro-Israel constituency, are that he or she would be an active supporter of U.S.-Israel relations with sympathy for Israel, surrounded by terrible adversaries sworn to her destruction.
Unfortunately, Rush Holt has lost sight of his voters’ wishes when it comes to Israel. Rush Holt votes with the leadership of his party 99 percent of the time. Yet he managed to buck the party by signing on to a letter to pressure Israel on Gaza. For a diligent congressman who has missed fewer than 100 votes out of thousands, he chose to miss signing on to the House resolution rejecting the biased anti-Israel Goldstone Report.
His instinct during the second intifada was to publicly criticize Israel for building a defensive perimeter. After Israel absorbed 10,000 rockets and mortars shot by Hamas at civilian targets, Holt equated Israel’s defensive military action with Hamas’s unprovoked missile attacks.
Rush Holt lacks the requisite credentials to enjoy the support of those in the community who advocate strong U.S.-Israel relations.
It is this state of affairs that compelled NORPAC to promote a qualified opposing candidate when the opportunity presented itself.
Scott Sipprelle, a successful businessman, is new to the political scene, but he has clearly stated his belief in holding U.S.-Israel relations as a priority. After our personal meetings and a review of his background, we are confident his service will be a credit to our nation.