DEMS: WE LOVE ISRAEL MORE THAN THE GOP DOES. I've been mulling over Matt's post from yesterday, and find myself in agitated agreement, especially after yesterday's media blitz of Democratic opposition to today's scheduled address by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki before a joint session of Congress.
As Matt noted, the Dems appear to be seeking short-term political advantage by using condemnation of Maliki to posture as more pro-Israel and more patriotic than their Republican counterparts.
At yesterday's press conference convened by the Senate's Democratic leadership, Minority Leader Harry Reid said that Maliki -- who has condemned "Israeli aggression" in the current conflict with Hezbollah, and has yet to distance himself from anti-Semitic comments made by the speaker of Iraq's parliament -- did not deserve an honor that had been bestowed on the likes of Lech Walesa. The same line was repeated later in the day on several news shows by Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. (This was a terrible disappointment, since Schakowsky is one of the best congressional Democrats -- see Ezra's health care post from yesterday.)
Conveniently forgotten is Walesa's own anti-Semitic comments, which I don't recall any U.S. leader ever having condemned.
According to the U.K.'s Institute for Jewish Policy Research:
In the spring of 2000, former president Lech Walesa expressed disapproval over President [Aleksander] Kwasniewski's participation in the 'national pilgrimage' to the Vatican. During an interview broadcast on public radio, Walesa said that Kwasniewski's visit to Rome was inappropriate due to his alleged Jewish origins. Walesa, known for his controversial statements, was widely criticized in the [European] media. In a speech in Bialystok in July 2000, during his presidential election campaign, Walesa said he was sorry that he himself was not Jewish as then he 'would probably be richer'.
And like Maliki, Walesa also refused to distance himself from blatantly anti-Semitic remarks made by an ally -- in his case, Rev. Henry Jankowski who, in a Mass attended by Walesa, accused Jews of the "satanic greed" he alleged had led to communism and World War II.
None of this excuses the accusations made by the Iraqi Speaker of Parliament that Jews were the source of beheadings and violence in Iraq, or Maliki's apparent refusal to condemn those remarks. But the selective memory at work on the part of Democrats does smack of the opportunism that is most unhelpful when there are real lives, both in Israel and Lebanon, at stake.
And given the profound level of violence still pervading Iraq, a Shiite-majority country, would you really expect Maliki to survive if he supported Israel's response to Hezbollah, a Shiite organization?
--Adele M. Stan