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US Lawmakers Stand Up Against Obama for Israel

U.S. lawmakers have sent a flurry of letters and statements to the White House complaining about the Obama administration’s rebuke of Israel.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 3/18/2010, 12:20 PM / Last Update: 3/18/2010, 12:29 PM

Flash 90

U.S. Congressional lawmakers have flooded the White House and the media with letters and news releases complaining about the Obama administration’s unprecedented scolding of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. This, following an Israeli announcement last week that a routine housing project was proceeding apace in eastern Jerusalem.

Politicians from across the political spectrum called on President Barack Obama and his aides to tone down their attacks on Israel and start using a more even-handed approach when dealing with the Palestinian Authority.

Many pointed out the lopsided double standard used by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joseph Biden in harshly condemning Israel’s routine announcement of a zoning approval for new housing in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in northwestern (mistakenly called east by most of the media) Jerusalem – a three-year-old project.  

Their criticism was delivered as the PA government dedicated a public square to the memory of a brutal murderer who in 1979 led the worst terrorist attack in Israel’s history, slaughtering 37 innocent civilians, including children.

Neither Biden nor Clinton came out with any public statement condemning the PA’s decision to go ahead with the ceremony naming a public square in the terrorist’s honor, nor the PA decision to follow up with a public study day in her memory two days later.

In a letter dated Wednesday, March 17, ten members of Congress told the president, “While your Administration clamors over the announcement of a proposed residential development years away from completion, Iran continues to develop its nuclear weapons capability and Hamas and Hizbullah rearm and reenergize. Remarks made by your Cabinet and advisors embolden Israel’s enemies – who are wholly committed to destroying the Jewish State – and undermine the critical relationship we have with our strongest ally for democracy and peace in the Middle East.”

Senator: Move US Embassy to Jerusalem
“It’s hard to see how spending a weekend condemning Israel for a zoning decision in its capital city amounts to a positive step towards peace,” U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) said dryly in a separate statement. “Rather than launching verbal attacks on our staunch ally and friend, it would be far more worthwhile for this Administration to expend the effort planning for the transfer of our embassy to Jerusalem and tackling the growing Iranian nuclear threat.”

U.S. Representative John Boozman (R-AR) went further, saying, “The Administration has lost focus on what has been the cornerstone of our foreign policy in the Middle East. We have an unbreakable bond with Israel, but the Administration is systematically eroding that relationship. The lack of clear objective and strategy by the Administration challenges and poses a security threat both in the Middle East as well as to our national security.”

In Obama's own party, U.S. Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV)  sent out a particularly scathing statement about the Administration’s “irresponsible overreaction” to Israel’s Interior Ministry’s awkward timing of its zoning announcement, which Obama advisor David Axelrod termed an “insult” and an “affront.”  Berkley noted, “No doubt the administration’s overwrought rhetoric is designed to try to appease Palestinian politicians and convince them the U.S. is an honest partner in the peace process by seizing every available opportunity to criticize the actions of our ally Israel."

“That strategy also includes ignoring the myriad provocations by Palestinian leaders that make pursuing peace such a long and arduous process,” Berkley pointed out. “Where, I ask, was the Administration’s outrage over the arrest and month-long incarceration by Hamas of a British journalist who was investigating arms-smuggling into Gaza? Where was the outrage when the Palestinian Authority this week named a town square after a woman who helped carry out a massive terror attack against Israel? It has been the PA who has refused to participate in talks for over a year, not the government of Israel. Yet once again, no concern was lodged by the Administration. And, all the while, Hamas restocks its terror arsenal and fires rockets into Israel.”

Shelley added that the U.S. should be pursuing a process of fairness, “not a policy of constant appeasement and reinforcement of the Palestinians’ failings as legitimate partners in the peace process.”

The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) published a complete list of the politicians who issued statements in support of Israel.

U.S. Senate

Republicans

Arizona - John McCain (R-AZ)

Kansas - Sam Brownback (R-KS)

Nebraska - Mike Johanns (R-NE)

Independent

Connecticut - Joe Lieberman (I-CT)

Democrats

Maryland - Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)

New York - Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Pennsylvania - Arlen Specter (D-PA)

U.S. House of Representatives

Republicans

Arizona - John Boozman (R-AR)

California - Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)

David Dreier (R-CA)

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

Florida -  Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

              Connie Mack (R-FL)

              Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

Georgia - Tom Price (R-GA)

Ohio -     Jim Jordan (R-OH)

              John Boehner (R-OH)

Illinois -  Mark Kirk (R-IL)

Indiana - Dan Burton (R-IN)

             Mike Pence (R-IN)

             Mark Souder (R-IN)

Kansas -  Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)

Oregon -  Greg Walden (R-OR)

Michigan - Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)

Texas -   John Carter (R-TX)

              Pete Sessions (R-TX)

Virginia -  Eric Cantor (R-VA)

Washington - Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

Democrats

California –  Howard L. Berman (D-CA)

Florida -      Ron Klein (D-FL)

Illinois -       Mike Quigley (D-IL)

Michigan -   Gary Peters (D-MI)

New Jersey - John Adler (D-NJ)

                    Robert Andrews (D-NJ)

                    Steve Rothman (D-NJ)

New York -    Gary Ackerman (D-NY)

                    Eliot Engel (D-NY)

                    Steve Israel (D-NY)

                    Nita Lowey (D-NY)

                    Kevin McCarthy (D-NY)

                    Anthony Weiner (D-NY)

Nevada - Shelley Berkley (D-NV)

Pennsylvania - Chris Carney (D-PA)