Watch Joe Biden deliver last night’s opening speech at the National Jewish Democratic Council’s Washington Conference.
Jewish politicians known for their support of Israel lashed out against the Republican Jewish Committee this morning, accusing it of dividing America’s Jewish community for the sake of politics.
During a panel discussion titled “Israel: Bipartisan Consensus or Partisan Wedge Issue” at a conference hosted by the National Jewish Democratic Council in Washington DC, House Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), and former Representative Mel Levine (D-CA) criticized the RJC’s anti-Obama campaign as “BS,” emphasizing that historically Democrats have been the most staunchly and consistently pro-Israel party.
“You cannot denigrate and destroy our community in the interest of getting someone elected and that’s exactly what they [the RJC] are doing,” said Berkley, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from pro-Israel PACs since entering the House in 1999. Stressing the role of Republicans in pushing for the Palestinian elections that brought Hamas to power as well as the “insanity” of their insistence on selling 20 billion dollars worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, Berkley said she found the RJC’s negative campaign “personally insulting.”
Levine, a former AIPAC board member who served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the RJC’s campaign “dishonest and harmful,” saying he had never before seen anything like the “outrageous slanders” it was spreading in the Jewish community. “The RJC is interested in tearing apart someone for purely partisan reasons,” added Levine, who claimed that in the 1980s he and other Democrats “went about trying to strengthen Republican support for Israel.”
All three panelists emphasized that support for Israel means supporting it’s democratically elected government and not intervening in the country’s domestic policy. “As Americans, it is not up to us to tell Israel what to do,” said Sherman. If you’re trying to pressure Israel to dismantle settlements, certainly the RJC will say that’s anti-Israel. Support for Israel as an American is to support the democratic government of Israel.”
Despite the shared outlook on Israel, there was little hope for reconciliation or cooperation between Jewish Democrats and Jewish Republicans. “They have made the decision that they’re willing to do anything to destroy Barack Obama’s reputation in the Jewish community,” Levine lamented. “I don’t believe that they’re willing to engage civilly. They don’t care what the facts are. They’re just out there to do whatever they can to destroy Obama.”