It's the latest midterm election game. The right is betting that American voters want to play. So, the "Emergency Committee for Israel" is taking it out for a spin. Joe Sestak is the first target, because he dared to speak the truth, even though there is no evidence whatsoever that he's anything but a staunch supporter of Israel. But in the "who is more pro Israel?" game, neoconservative right wingers like Bill Kristol will decide the standard.
Leading conservatives will launch a new pro-Israel group this week with a scathing attack on Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, the first shot in what they say will be a confrontational campaign against the Obama administration's Mideast policy and the Democrats who support it. - New conservative group will oppose Obama Mideast policy
I've been warning this was coming for months, though the right is just getting started, because the ultimate target will be Pres. Obama once 2012 skirmishes begin. Listen to right-wing radio, which will tee off on this one with gusto.
The name says it all: "Emergency Committee for Israel," implying that Israel is in dire danger from Democrats, focusing on Rep. Joe Sestak who is running for Senate, and who had the audacity to stand up and speak his mind on the Israel Gaza flotilla disaster.
From Politico's Ben Smith:
The Emergency Committee for Israel's leadership unites two major strands of support for the Jewish state: The hawkish, neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, many of whom are Jewish; and conservative Evangelical Christians who have become increasingly outspoken in their support for Israel. The new group's board includes Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol and Gary Bauer, the former Republican presidential candidate who leads the group American Values, as well as Rachel Abrams, a conservative writer and activist. Former McCain aide Michael Goldfarb is an adviser to the group.
"We're the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community," said Kristol.
The new committee declined to disclose its funding - as a 501(c)4 advocacy organization, it isn't required to - but said it had raised enough to air its first ad, starting this week, on Fox and CNN and during a Philadelphia Phillies game. The ad attacks Sestak for signing a letter criticizing Israel's blockade of Gaza while not signing a defense of Israel circulated by the group AIPAC, and for appearing at a fundraiser for the Council on American Islamic Relations, which it describes as an "anti-Israel organization the FBI called a 'front-group for Hamas'."
It's the first salvo in what will be a wide, angry and vitriolic argument over Pres. Obama's Middle East policy.
The first time I wrote a long essay entitled, "Who is More Pro Israel?" it was simply about politicians trying to one up each other in front of AIPAC. The premise was about the jockeying to prove who was a better friend to Israel, even as both parties have shown unyielding fealty to our Middle East friend.
Fealty and friendship, however, doesn't mean the U.S. should ignore what the Netanyahu government has done on settlements, and certainly not on the Gaza flotilla disaster.
But now Bill Kristol has finally come out and confirmed what I've been writing for months. We're now in a march into the fight over who belongs in the "pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community."
Where this leaves U.S. diplomacy, the two-state push, not to mention Democrats going forward is likely nowhere but in lockstep with the right. Because it's a cinch no politician wants to be on the target list from Kristol's group.
I'm hoping someone has the guts to take them on, because what Kristol's group is doing is swiftboating Sestak on Israel. I've done a lot of work on swiftboating, along with friends James Boyce and Dave Johnson, so I know it when I see it. But I'm not holding my breath.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst and writer out of Washington, D.C.