Daily Israel Report

November Election: Meet NYC Candidate Susan Kone

In an interview with INN, NYC Congressional candidate Susan Kone talks about challenging Washington politics.
By Fern Sidman, INN NY Correspondent
First Publish: 8/17/2010, 8:08 PM / Last Update: 10/28/2010, 8:28 PM

Susan Kone

As candidates throughout the nation gear up for what promises to be heated battles in the upcoming November mid-term elections, our regional candidates, some hitherto unknown to the public, are setting the stage to challenge the agenda of the Obama administration. Susan Kone, an attorney from Manhattan is the GOP candidate for the 8th congressional district which covers parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan's upper west side. She is taking on the incumbent Jerrold Nadler (D) who has held this seat since 1992. Ms. Kone describes herself as a "grassroots candidate" who gives voice to the frustrations of New Yorkers who staunchly oppose the policies emanating from the current administration. Israel National News sat down with Ms. Kone to discuss her policy positions.

Fern Sidman (FS): Can you tell our readership in the Jewish community about your background? 

Susan Kone (SK): My family immigrated to this country from Russia and Eastern Europe around 1900. I was given the Hebrew name Sarah Leah and named after my great uncle Sol who was killed saving children in Germany during World War II.  When my grandmother passed, away she asked me to always honor his memory and bequeathed to me his Purple Heart which to this day remains my most cherished possession.

I worked throughout high school and graduated as valedictorian which enabled me to attend Dartmouth College. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude with high honors in government and then I attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Law on a partial scholarship. I practiced as an attorney for 10 years and for the last several years have run my own small business in the district. I am not a professional politician but I am a professional. I have real world experience - not Washington experience. I earn my living by finding people jobs and helping businesses to grow and thrive; by bringing people together with creative, common sense solutions.

FS: Will You be debating Mr. Nadler?
 
SK: I have proposed a series of debates between Mr. Nadler and me so that his insensitivity gets replaced with insights—open discussions.  I believe the people of the 8th Congressional District want Mr. Nadler to agree to debate any and all issues, candidate-to-candidate, in free, fair forums, open to the press and public. Unfortunately, Mr. Nadler has stonewalled my invitation. This is yet another example of his insensitivity to the feelings and views of the vast majority of his constituents. It is in our community’s interest to have an open discussion of the many pressing issues that confront us so that each citizen can make the most informed decision as possible on November 2. However, given his abysmal record on the issues - including jobs, the economy, taxes healthcare and Israel - he knows that it is not in his political interest to debate and so he has opted out. This is a primary reasons I am running against Mr. Nadler - unfortunately, somewhere along the line it became all about him and not about us.
 
Mr. Nadler has been insensitive to the feelings of those of us in the community - including the families of the victims of September 11 and the brave first responders - who oppose the proposed mosque at Ground Zero as a poor and insensitive choice of location. He has called them “shameful”, “hateful” and “divisive” and had labeled their “hurt speech” as “hate speech”. He has also been insensitive to the lack of jobs; increasing tax and regulatory burdens, declining incomes; future-threatening gargantuan deficit, increase in poverty;  increases in healthcare costs and decline in quality and availability;  and this Adminstration’s poor treatment of Israel and our other democratic allies.
 
I am calling on him once again to replace his insensitivity with insight and to agree to debate me prior to November 2. As Mr. Nadler has been “ducking the debate”, I am launching ads and releasing numerous press releases this week to bring to the attention of voters critical facts they must know which I would have brought to their attention in a debate. .
 
FS: You recently launched an ad campaign entitled “Think Jerrold Nadler is Pro-Israel -- Think Again?” What were you getting at here and what was the purpose of the campaign? 
 
SK: One of the largest and most diverse Jewish communities in the world reside in New York’s Eighth Congressional District.  I believe that my race against Mr. Nadler is a referendum on President Obama’s policies toward Israel. Mr. Nadler was the primary surrogate of the Administration who misled the Jewish Community that this Administration would be a strong friend to Israel. He has continued to abide this Administration’s mistreatment of, and insensitivity, to Israel. 
 
Not long ago, Former Democratic New York City Mayor Ed Koch was right on point when he asked insightfully: “Where are the voices of Jewish Congressmen to protest Obama’s hostility to Israel? “ My campaign centers on the fact that while Mr. Nadler was extremely vocal in defending  the taxpayers’ continued funding of ACORN and the right of developers to build a Mosque near Ground Zero, for almost two years, he has stood silent while Barack Obama has pursued the most anti-Israel policies of any President in U.S. History. He stood silent as Prime Minister Netanyahu was humiliated at the White House.   He stood silent as we continue to legitimize and appease the holocaust-denying, genocide preaching,  human rights abusing regime in Tehran. He stood silent as this Adminstration singled out Israel’s purported nuclear program for inspection without mentioning Iran’s. He stood he stood silent as the President of the United States used the harshest possible diplomatic language against Israel over its the issuance of  routine zoning permits in its capital city of Jerusalem while ignoring, on that same day, Fatah naming a square in its capital city of Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi who murdered 37 Israelis and Americans in cold blooded terror attack. He stood silent as the Administration rejoined and legitimized the so-called Human Rights Council of the United Nations which  has been silent on repression from regimes from Havana to Caracas to Pyongyang and Tehran-- while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel.
 
We also wonder why Mr. Nadler, through his personal PAC, Jerry PAC,  helped finance the campaign of Loretta Sanchez of California who signed the infamous J-Street sponsored pro-Gaza “Letter of 54” demanding that Israel ease pressure on  the terrorist group Hamas which controls Gaza and had been incessantly launching rockets targeting Israeli civilian populations for months on end.
 
FS: What other issues are you bringing to the attention of voters?
 
SK: We launched another campaign entitled “Why Jerry Nadler is Bad For Your Health”. [see attached Press Release] and will soon be issuing another release on the detrimental impact that the “Nadler Approach” has had on jobs and the economy. We will also be releasing some additional facts regarding the proposed mosque near Ground Zero.
 
FS: Can you win?
 
SK: Yes I can! One need only look at the justified discontent in this country with entrenched politicians such as Mr. Nadler to know that we can persevere. No one thought Scott Brown could win the “Kennedy Seat” in Massachusetts - so do not deny that Susan Kone can win the so-called “Nadler Seat” in New York. 

As we campaign on the streets everyday the energy is palpable - the momentum is clearly on our side. We have had studies done which indicate we are within a winnable margin. I need people to believe in our country -- to believe in our people  -- and to believe we can achieve an historic victory on November 2. I would urge your readers to make certain they get out and vote -- this election is critical -- the stakes are way too high to stay on the sidelines.FS:   Why did you decide, at this juncture, to enter the political arena and run for the Congressional seat in the 8th district?

FS: What are your positions on "big government" as actualized by the Obama administration and what measures would you be taking in Congress to impede the "tax and spend" legislation that has been passed such as government bailouts?

SK: Due to the uncertainty posed by selective government takeovers and the excessive and uncertain tax and regulatory environment, businesses and investors are sitting on the sidelines rather than taking risks; and are relocating to more business friendly venues. We will not create jobs or revive our economy in this climate. This has to change. I believe to achieve prosperity and create opportunity we must tap what has always been our greatest resource - the innovation and ingenuity of our people. In order to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit, we need to stimulate the private sector, not the public sector.  We need to stop strangling our citizens and our businesses with over taxation and red tape. I would lower taxes and make the tax code simpler. I would do away with the alternative minimum tax, the Death Tax and other taxes which would increase the burden on many of the residents in our district. We need consumer spending, not government spending. I would make elimination of the federal deficit a top priority. I would also create incentives to make capital available to small businesses.

FS: Do you believe that the universal health care bill is unconstitutional and if so, would you lead the charge to have it repealed? 

SK: I certainly would lead the charge to have the "Obamacare" bill repealed. While I am not a constitutional lawyer I do believe that many valid constitutional issues are being raised throughout the country. Many of my neighbors are very concerned about this new reform. They wonder whether it will affect their choice of doctor or their access to medical services. I have spoken to many medical professionals in the district who believe that the newly enacted legislation dealt "a crushing blow to American freedom and medical excellence" and will result in higher costs, poorer quality care and less availability of care, overall. I believe that to improve our healthcare system we need more competition, not more bureaucracy. Our system could be improved in a 20-page bill, not a 2000 plus page government takeover of our healthcare industry.  Some say that is the way it is done in Washington. I say it can be done differently. If I am elected to Congress, I will lead the charge to try to “do things differently.“  We need clarity, transparency and accountability.

I shared the frustration and anger of many Americans about the insensitive manner in which this monumental piece of legislation was rammed through without giving us ample time or opportunity to express our views. I am concerned for the senior citizens who worked their entire lives to pay into the system and are now being shortchanged. We are not being well served when Mr. Nadler voted for this legislation. Particularly disturbing was Speaker Pelosi’s comment that, “you have to pass the bill before you know what is in it”.  I can only imagine the tens of thousands of pages of regulations that will be promulgated by unelected bureaucrats who will gain unprecedented control over our healthcare decisions. I do not believe this is the “representative democracy” or “liberty” that our founding fathers had envisioned.

FS: Concerning US foreign policy on the Middle East, what is your opinion of the Obama administration's agenda as it pertains to relations with Israel?

SK: In general, I believe that we must approach our relations with others with moral clarity and from a position of strength. We need to support our allies and be tough on our enemies. The Obama administration does not appear to subscribe to this philosophy and its insensitive treatment of Israel is but one example. It was insensitive to treat Prime Minister Netanyahu in a recent visit to the White House like a persona non grata - a nebech or a nobody. I also share the views of many in the Jewish community who are quite concerned about the incessant pressure that the administration is placing on Israel to relinquish parts of Jerusalem to a future Palestinian state.

Concerning the insensitivity issues, as it became clear that this outraged some Jewish voters and Jewish campaign contributors, suddenly President Obama underwent a "foxhole conversion" with the November elections pending. He invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House and proclaims that the “bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable.”  Where was Mr. Nadler when that bond was cracking, when Israel and its prime minister—our allies—were treated insensitively?

FS: On the subject of Iran, it appears that UN economic sanctions have proved ineffective as a deterrent to the nuclear threat that Iran represents to Israel. What legislation would you propose to confront this imminent crisis?

SK: A nuclear armed Iran poses a significant threat not only to Israel but to the entire Middle East, Europe and the United States. I hope and pray that the sanctions that have been recently enacted have an impact but certainly no option should be off the table. Preventing the world's most dangerous regime from acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons should be out top priority. I think it was naive and dangerous to think that Iran’s nefarious objectives were going to be thwarted diplomatically and to let the clock tick while pursuing that strategy. Iran is the most prominent and dangerous exporter of terrorism throughout the globe -- and one of the most flagrant abusers of the human rights of its people.

The current fundamentalist regime denies its citizens freedom of speech, press and assembly. It engages in tortures, sexual abuses and executes its political opposition including children; stones and denigrates women and persecutes gays and other minorities. It is a regime that is inciting the insurgency in Iraq, supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and promoting the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. It is closely aligning itself with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez near our southern border and is effectively expanding its influence throughout the globe. The  symbolic head - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad— the Hitler wanabee of the 21st century is a Holocaust denier who  boasts of his desire to annihilate both the State of Israel and the United States.

FS: As you know, many Jews are concerned with the rampant rise in global anti-Semitism and the fact that the demonization of Israel has become legitimized in the academic, political and religious arena. Do you think the Republication party is addressing these issues strongly enough and what would you do within your own party to give visibility to these issues?

SK: I am extremely concerned with the rampant rise in global anti-Semitism and this would be a primary focus of my tenure as congresswoman. In its current form, anti-Semitism is most often cloaked as anti-Zionism and manifested in the demonization of Israel. It is critical that we learn from the very difficult lessons of our past. There are profoundly disturbing parallels between the 1930s and today. The challenge we face is even greater given both a greater capacity for the proliferation of misinformation and a greater capacity for mass destruction. It  is important that we all stand committed to never let evil wreak havoc and destruction again.

I recently visited Sderot and saw firsthand the shells of the rockets that had been deliberately launched on Israel’s civilian population incessantly for months. The Goldstone Report unfairly chastised Israel for exercising her legitimate right of self-defense in their attempts to disarm those firing the rockets while, at the same time, exercising the utmost caution to avoid civilian casualties. While most Republicans supported a resolution which strongly condemned this report, I was particularly disturbed by the alarmingly high number of Democrats who either voted against the resolution, or voted present or just not voting at all.