The Emergency Committee for Israel’s Leadership is today running a TV spot in Columbus, Ohio which sharply criticizes Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D). The 30 second ad states:
Most members of Congress are friends of Israel. That’s why a huge majority, 88 percent, refused to sign a letter accusing Israel of collective punishment when Israel was defending her citizens from the terrorist group Hamas. But Mary Jo Kilroy signed that anti-Israel letter. A fellow Democratic congressman called Kilroy misinformed… Ask her why she joined an assault on Israel.
The Congresswoman’s campaign responded by saying when is the Emergency Committee “going to start running ads against Prime Minister Netanyahu and calling him anti-Israel for easing the blockade in accordance with the spirit of the letter.” The focus of the ad is a letter sent last January by 54 Democratic congressmen calling on Israel to lift the Gaza blockade. It was organized by two left wing organizations, J Street and Peace Now. Both groups have consistently defined Israel’s self-defense measures as gross human rights violations.
The Board members of the Emergency Committee for Israel’s Leadership are primarily Republicans and many of them can be described as “neo-conservatives.” The Committee defines its mission as:
We will educate votes about the anti-Israel record of members like Mary Jo Kilroy who either vote against Israel, sign letters condemning Israel, or work to undermine the US-Israel relationship in any other way, because nothing can do more to advance the cause of peace, democracy and human rights in the Middle East than a strong US-Israel relationship.
The letter co-signed by the 54 lawmakers expresses “concern for Israel’s security, for the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, and for the urgency of reaching a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . We write to you [Obama] with great concern about the ongoing crisis in Gaza.” Former diplomat Lenny Ben-David says that was not the reason for the letter:
They argue that first they are concerned for “Israel’s security,” but the text of the letter indicates Israel’s security is of little concern. More than 90 percent of the letter deals with the “collective punishment of the Palestinian residents” of Gaza and easing their plight. This accusation of Israel’s “collection punishment” helps explain why J Street failed to condemn the Goldstone Report. This is not a letter from “pro-Israel” sources, but from “pro-Gaza” sources. And in the case of Hamas-occupied Gaza, the two are mutually exclusive.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a well known supporter of Israel, refused to sign the letter. He said J Street takes “positions in Washington I have difficulty with. They over-emphasize what they feel Israel is not doing, rather than putting the blame squarely where I think it belongs – the Palestinian attitude of denying Israel the right to exist as a Jewish state.” Another strong reaction to the letter came from blogger Timothy Birdnow:
The entire “Free Gaza” movement is a Hamas propaganda project that allows it to demand that Israel open its borders, without actually using the P word, for peace, since Hamas doesn’t even believe in phony peace negotiations. So Pro-Hamas activists talk only about ‘The People of Gaza’, deemphasize Hamas and emphasize the supposed ‘suffering’ within Gaza.
But the call for Israel to open its borders is nothing more than a way of making it easier for terrorists to strike. The letter buries its real agenda in paragraphs of prose about how everyone will be better off, except somehow Hamas, if Israel complies with their demand… that Israel ease the movement of people in and out of Gaza. This of course is a fancy way of saying, ‘Let my Suicide Bombers go’. None of this is up till now is shocking.
But what Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) accomplished was to convince 53 other Democratic congressmen to join him in this venture. It is not particularly surprising to find the House’s most radical anti-Israel voices signing their names onto Ellison’s letter. It would be inconceivable if a letter aiding Hamas did not carry the signatures of Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA) or Jim McDermott (D-WA), who helped Ellison spearhead the whole campaign. It is essentially inconceivable that any letter circulated in Congress opposing Israel would not get their signature.