In this upcoming presidential race, each of the two major political parties is doing its best to present its candidate as more pro-Israel than the other.
That’s why we’re perplexed by the decisions of the Democrats and Republicans to showcase at their conventions men who are decidedly anti-Israel.
At the just-completed Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., former New Hampshire Governor and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu placed Gov. Mitt Romney’s name into nomination.
And this week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., former President Jimmy Carter will speak by video as an elder party statesman.
Talk about vetting processes gone haywire!
Sununu, who currently acts as an advisor to Romney, was the only governor in 1987 that refused to condemn the 1977 notorious United Nations resolution equating Zionism with racism. At the time, he cited a campaign promise not to issue any proclamations while in office.
But in 1991, Sununu, then-White House chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush, became embroiled in a scandal for billing thousands of dollars worth of private travel expenses to the taxpayer’s. New York Times columnist William Safire wrote an essay on June 27 of that year, “Sununu blames the Jews,” in which he traced leaks back to Sununu that pro-Israel sources — namely, Safire himself — were behind the attacks on him, and were doing so because he was an Arab-American critical of Israel.
“Mr. Sununu’s scapegoating to save his neck is giving anti-Semitism a bad name,” Safire wrote.
Carter’s anti-Israel activities and rhetoric are well known. The author of “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” — a title that made use of the “A” word in connection with the Jewish state fashionable if not downright respectable — Carter has consistently attacked Israel for housing construction in east Jerusalem, its war with Hamas and construction of the security barrier to name a few instances, while going easy on Palestinian atrocities.
This week, Carter again attacked Israel; this time, in the context of the Haifa district court ruling that the State of Israel was not responsible for the 2003 death of Rachel Corrie, the U.S. peace activist who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer while protesting Palestinian home demolition in the Gazan town of Rafah.
“The killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable,” Carter said. “The court’s decision confirms a climate of impunity, which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory.”
(But the evidence in the Corrie case can be read more than one way. See Shraga Simmons’ column.)
Clearly, both parties can select whomever they wish to speak at their conventions, which in modern times have become little more than glorified pep rallies for their national tickets.
And let us be clear, both candidates — President Obama and Gov. Romney — are pro-Israel, even if they differ on the details. To paint one or the other as anti-Israel is a misread of their positions.
But for both political parties to loudly tout their candidates’ Israel credentials, while simultaneously giving their podiums to anti-Israel spokesmen, gives their messages a tin-sounding note. It makes us wonder on what other issues they are playing both sides of the political fence. This November, let the voters beware.