Is Tammy Baldwin Anti-Israel?
"Thompson called Baldwin's explanation (about Iran sanction votes) 'the lamest excuse I've ever heard' and then went on to call her 'anti-Jewish.'.....'she's anti-Israel' he clarified."(1)
Calling Baldwin, who was raised by her Jewish maternal grandfather UW Prof. David Green, "anti-Jewish" is bizarre, especially since Thompson himself was lambasted in 2007 for saying that "earning money was a Jewish tradition." But is he right in calling his Democratic opponent "anti-Israel?"
The Milwaukee Jewish Community Relations Council tried to arrange a debate between the senate candidates, but their schedules conflicted, so each candidate was questioned separately at the Jewish Community Center (JCC). Thompson appeared October 7 and Baldwin October 14. I wish that they had appeared together if only so that Tommy could have made that nasty charge right to her face, if he would have dared to.
Tammy Baldwin, who represents the Madison area in Congress, told the JCC audience that she is a strong supporter of Israel's security. She voted against some sanctions on Iran when he she hoped that the Ahmadinejad government would fall, but now supports crippling trade and financial sanctions. Baldwin favors the "Two State Solution", which entails the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. She wants the Arab state to be "de-militarized", which could be a hard sell for Palestinian leaders. The Congresswoman estimated that she voted for about $35 billion in both economic and military aid to Israel in her 14 years in the House.
So why do Thompson (and some Jews) says she is "anti-Israel?" Every year or so resolutions are introduced in the House that express the "sense of Congress" about various foreign policy issues, including the Middle East. Besides voting against the Iran sanctions some years ago, she voted against some pro-Israel resolutions and abstained on some others. In my view, she cast some ultra-liberal votes as the representative of an ultra-liberal constituency in Madison. Now that she is running statewide, she has modified her views to appeal to a broader constituency. ( Mitt Romney did likewise when he switched from running in Massachusetts to running nationwide for President.) In other words, she is a politician.
If your criterion is that casting even one vote against a pro-Israel resolution makes a member of Congress "anti-Israel", no matter how the congressperson voted on aid to Israel or other bills, then Baldwin is in that category. But I would reserve that term for members of Congress like ex-Rep. Cynthia McKinney or Rep. Ron Paul, who consistently speak and vote against Israel's interests.
If it were fair to label Tammy Baldwin "anti-Israel," I doubt that Senator Herb Kohl, a former leader of the Wisconsin Israel Bond Committee and of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, would have asked her to run for his seat.
Gerald S Glazer
(1) Dan Bice in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 15, 2012, page 2A (No Quarter Column)