The California Senate Race And Israel

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

Tom Campbell, who has zipped into the lead in early polls, is quite another story. During his time in the House, Campbell was one of the few Republicans with a consistent anti-Israel voting record. In 1999, he introduced an amendment to cut foreign aid to Israel. This amendment, titled the Campbell Amendment, was defeated overwhelmingly on the House floor by a vote of 13-414. In 1999, Campbell was one of just 24 House members to vote against a resolution expressing congressional opposition to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. In 1997, Rep. Tom Campbell authored an amendment (also titled the Campbell Amendment) to cut foreign aid to Israel. The resolution failed 9-32 in committee. In 1990, Campbell was one of just 34 House members to vote against a resolution expressing support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  The resolution passed the House 378-34. But Campbell has taken positions on more than just aid that have raised concerns about his views on Israel. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2000, Campbell, in his losing race against Dianne Feinstein, “told numerous crowds–including Jewish groups–that he believes Palestinians are entitled to a homeland and that Jerusalem can be the capital of more than one nation.”

Philip Klein at American Spectator

Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard:

In 1999, Rep. Tom Campbell introduced an amendment to cut foreign aid to Israel.  This amendment, titled the “Campbell Amendment,” was defeated overwhelmingly on the House floor by a vote of 13-413.

In 1999, Campbell was one of just 24 House members to vote against a resolution expressing Congressional opposition to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

In 1997, Rep. Tom Campbell authored an amendment (again, titled the “Campbell Amendment”) to cut foreign aid to Israel.  The resolution failed 9-32 in committee.  This amendment was particularly offensive to the pro-Israel community because it came at the same time that Israel had agreed to a complete phase out of economic aid over a 8-year period.   This was not sufficient for Campbell and his amendment called for an additional cut beyond what had been agreed to.

In 1990, Campbell was one of just 34 House members to vote against a resolution expressing support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  The resolution passed the House 378-34.

He was a consistent opponent of the Foreign Aid bill which has Israel and Egypt as the largest recipients.

He rarely signed pro-Israel letters as a member of Congress.

Additionally, Tom Campbell endorsed the work of Ms. Allison Weir, who leads an anti-Israel organization called “If Americans Knew.”  This organization calls on the United States to cut financial and diplomatic support for Israel.  Campbell said the following about Ms. Weir’s work at If Americans Knew: “Ms. Weir presents a powerful, well documented view of the Middle East today. She is intelligent, careful, and critical. American policy makers would benefit greatly from hearing her first-hand observations and attempting to answer the questions she poses.”

If Campbell wins the Republican primary, a huge window will open for the incumbent, Barbara Boxer, who will be able to point to her record of supporting Israel in contrast to Campbell’s hostility toward one of America’s closest allies.

More Philip Klein at American Spectator:

Last week, I wrote a post on the anti-Israel voting record of Tom Campbell, a Republican candidate for the California Senate seat currently held by Barbara Boxer. Some readers thought I was being unfair. But today I see, via Jennifer Rubin, that during his 2000 race for the Senate, Campbell received campaign contributions from Sami Al-Arian, the former University of South Florida professor who pled guilty to conspiring to help associates of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. (As I noted below, Al-Arian has resurfaced in the news because Obama’s  new envoy to the Muslim world is on record defending him prior to his guilty plea).

I double-checked the Federal Election Commission database, and was able to confirm that on May 2, 2000, Al-Arian made two donations totaling $1,300 to Campbell’s Senate campaign. At the time he made the contributions, as he admits in his plea agreement, Al-Arian was engaged in “Conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist…”

In defense of Campbell, one could argue that the donations were made prior to Al-Arian’s guilty plea. But with that said Al-Arian was already under investigation by the government in 2000 and his publicly radical views were known. Also, it’s kind of random for an Islamic radical in Florida to contribute to a Republican Senate campaign in California. The only other political donations listed from Al-Arian were made to Democrats: David Bonior, Jim Davis, and Cynthia McKinney — none of them fans of Israel, and in McKinney’s case, a 9/11 truther. So where does Campbell fit into this picture, and why would Al-Arian want to contribute to him?

More Rubin:

Campbell then responded and shockingly revealed “not only that Al-Arian donated money to his campaign, but that he visited Al-Arian’s brother-in-law (himself associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad) in prison.” And if that were not enough, he confirms “that when Al-Arian was fired from the University of South Florida (after controversy generated by a Bill O’Reilly report on Al-Arian’s terrorist ties), he sent a letter to the school protesting the action.”

At least we know where Campbell stands on these issues and for whom he chooses to go to bat. Campbell’s opponents have yet to comment on any of this, but if Campbell should make it through the primary, one thing is certain: Sen. Barbara Boxer will certainly beat him over the head with this.

And even more Rubin:

One of his Senate opponents, Carly Fiorina, has now issued a statement raising not only Al-Arian but Tom Campbell’s record on Israel:

“I am deeply troubled by these reports. I think the people of California deserve to know more about Tom Campbell’s association not only with Sami Al-Arian but also his association with other people of questionable record. What is clear is that Tom Campbell and I couldn’t disagree more when it comes to policy regarding our nation’s relationship with Israel. I am an unwavering supporter of Israel and believe strongly that the United States should continue to support and defend the country.”

(Campbell’s previous response on Al-Arian is here.)

It seems that that California Republicans will face a stark choice on foreign policy, Israel, and the war against Islamic fundamentalists, in addition to domestic issues. One can only imagine that Sen. Barbara Boxer must be looking on with extreme interest. If her opponent is Campbell, she surely will have an energized pro-Israel base (Jewish and non-Jewish) of support (financial and otherwise) in the general election.

Jon Ward at The Daily Caller:

Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell hit back Monday at primary opponent Carly Fiorina for saying that he does not support Israel, calling her accusations “desperate” and “bizarre.”

“Carly Fiorina’s latest attack suggesting that I am anti-Israel and pro-jihadist is desperate and irresponsible,” Campbell said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller.

Fiorina, the 55-year old former Hewlett Packard chief executive, said Sunday night that she was “deeply troubled” by recent “reports” about Campbell’s associations with Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian immigrant to the U.S. who was arrested in 2003 for working with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and later pled guilty to providing material support to the group.

Even President Obama’s recently appointed envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference has come under scrutiny for his remarks in the past defending Al-Arian. The envoy, Rashad Hussain, said Friday that his past comments about Al-Arian were “ill-conceived.”

Recent reporting by conservative outlets Commentary Magazine and The American Spectator have focused attention in recent days on Campbell’s receipt of a campaign donation from Al-Arian and his arguments against his firing from the University of South Florida.

“I think the people of California deserve to know more about Tom Campbell’s association not only with Sami Al-Arian but also his association with other people of questionable record,” Fiorina told Commentary Magazine.

“What is clear is that Tom Campbell and I couldn’t disagree more when it comes to policy regarding our nation’s relationship with Israel,” she said. “I am an unwavering supporter of Israel and believe strongly that the United States should continue to support and defend the country.”

Campbell, a 57-year-old former congressman who has led Fiorina and fellow Republican Chuck Devore in polling since switching from the governor’s race to the Senate race in January, hit back Monday, saying that Fiorina was distorting his record and past associations.

“In Congress, I always voted in favor of providing military aid to Israel, and have always supported Israel’s right to defend itself — including taking military action against Iran to prevent its development of nuclear arms,” Campbell said.

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–>David Frum at FrumForum:

The criticism of Campbell’s terrorism-and-Israel record rests on 5 main claims:

1)    It’s claimed that Campbell twice voted to cut aid to Israel during his time in Congress.

2)    It’s claimed that Campbell voted against Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

3)    It’s claimed that Campbell made fund-raising appearances before radical Islamic groups.

4)    It’s claimed that Campbell employed on his staff a California Muslim with ties to radical groups.

5)    It’s claimed that Campbell wrote a letter in support of a deportable alien with ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Let’s take each in turn.

On 1: These claims turn on a relatively small amount of money, $30 million, less than 1% of Israel’s aid package. As part of the Wye River round of peace talks, President Clinton proposed a $700 million increase in Israel’s economic aid. To embarrass Clinton, congressional Republicans proposed to increase that aid by an additional $30 million. But Congress in those years was operating under pay-go rules that required every spending increase to be matched by a spending cut somewhere else. (Good rule.) So it was proposed to take the extra extra money for Israel out of the allotment for aid to Africa. Campbell happened to be a senior member of the Africa subcommittee of the House International Affairs Committee. He objected to the transfer on the grounds that it was unnecessary for Israel and injurious to important African projects.

It’s important to note – as stated in Campbell’s reply above – Campbell has always supported Israel’s military requests in full. His qualms about economic aid are shared by many Israeli free-market economists who worry that this money may harm Israeli export industries by contributing to the over-valuation of the shekel.

On 2: The Jerusalem vote occurred in 1990. It was introduced by a Democratic member of Congress to embarrass the George H.W. Bush administration. While agreeing in principle that Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel’s capital, Campbell acceded to the administration’s request and voted No on this one measure.

On 3: Campbell did indeed speak to Muslim-American groups in the late 1990s. So did Gov. George W. Bush whom nobody would accuse of lack of friendship for Israel – and for the same reason: party strategists had identified Muslim Americans as potential Republican voters. As Ronald Reagan used to say when he was criticized for accepting support from odd groups: “I’m not supporting their agenda. I’m asking them to support mine.”

On 4: The person in question – Suhail Khan – would become a White House colleague of mine in 2001-2002, where he worked in the Office of Public Liaison. I heard many of the same rumors about him then that are being circulated today. I looked into them as searchingly as I could and never found any foundation for them.

Yes it’s true that some dubious characters visited the White House complex in 2001, both before and after the 9/11 attacks. But it’s ridiculous to think that Khan invited them. Khan might meet them at the gate, but the invitations came from a much higher pay grade.

By the way: Suhail Khan now serves on the board of directors of the American Conservative Union. If he’s a jihadist mole, he has also deceived John Bolton, Tom DeLay, Becky Norton Dunlap, and Allen Roth, among others.

As to Allegation 5:

Campbell’s libertarian sympathies were exploited by some very bad actors.

In 1996, Congress had amended the immigration laws to allow for the deportation of aliens based on secret information of terrorist activities.

The trouble was that for many of the worst such aliens, there was nowhere to deport them to. They ended up languishing in American jails indefinitely.

The family of one such alien appealed to Campbell for help, and he was persuaded to take up the cause.

It was in time publicly confirmed that the alien in question, Mazen al-Najjar, was very, very implicated in Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as was his brother-in-law, Sami al-Arian. A deal was eventually struck to send Najjar to Lebanon. After a complex set of criminal proceedings, al-Arian is now awaiting trial on contempt charges.

Campbell has acknowledged that he was wrong and apologized for his mistake. But he did not make this mistake alone.

Candidate George W. Bush for example posed for a photograph with Sami al-Arian in the spring of 2000. Al Arian visited the White House after Bush’s election. When al-Arian’s son was barred from the White House by the Secret Service, the deputy director of the Secret Service was ordered to telephone the young man to apologize.

Bush met with another Islamic extremist, Abdel Rahman al-Amoudi in 2000: Amoudi is now serving a 23 year prison sentence.

During campaign 2000, Bush publicly demanded the repeal of the secret evidence law. He restated his pledge during one of his debates with Al Gore.

The people responsible for these much more serious mistakes have never expressed remorse. Yet they continue to play a respected part in the conservative world. Yet the one person in the affair who has said he was wrong – he’s the one who is supposedly unacceptable? How does that make sense?

Especially since he is the candidate with the clearest and most detailed pro-Israel platform in the California Senate race?

Daniel Larison:

Philip Klein normally has a rather flexible definition of what passes for being “anti-Israel.” As I recall, when J Street held their first conference, he declared that they were an “anti-Israel” organization. So when he asserted earlier this month that California Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell had an “anti-Israel voting record” I was pretty skeptical. As it turns out, Klein and the others who have embarked on this get-Campbell campaign are amazingly wrong about Campbell and his record. This isn’t some disagreement over emphasis or interpretation of ambiguous statements or actions. The critics have been simply wrong. While it is rather amusing to see foreign policy hawks attempting to tear down one of their own out of sheer ignorance and overreaction, the entire episode over the last week and a half does tell us some more important things about the state of the GOP and conservative movement and about the California Senate race itself.

To take the second point first, we can see that Campbell’s opponents are flailing about in desperation and will employ any claim to attack him, no matter how much misrepresentation it might involve. Since he entered the race, Campbell has enjoyed a comfortable lead in the polls over Fiorina and DeVore, and of the three he has the best polling numbers against Boxer. DeVore was the one to get the ball rolling in attacking Campbell on this point, but he remains a distant third and is mainly running a protest candidacy with little chance of prevailing over the other two. Except for the mostly negative and mocking attention she was able to garner with her weird “demon sheep” ad, Fiorina has not been able to gain much traction, and so she has started trying to exploit Campbell’s tenuous, limited connection with the Al-Arian case. Like her tenure at HP, Fiorina’s campaign has not been going well. What we learn from this is that Campbell’s opponents seem unusually unscrupulous and/or sloppy, and it also tells us that hard-line hawkish policy views are must-haves even within the California GOP primary electorate.

The campaign to cast Campbell as “anti-Israel” started in the camps of his primary competitors, but it was then picked up by some conservative blogs and took on something of a life of its own. Obviously, the unfounded attack was aimed at destroying Campbell’s candidacy within the GOP. This would have had the effect of eliminating or crippling the candidate with the best, albeit still remote, chance of defeating Boxer. Some of the people carrying out the campaign attacking Campbell claimed that they wanted to prevent the GOP from nominating someone with such a grave liability, when the liability, so called, never existed.

What they managed to do instead was to demonstrate their own knee-jerk fanaticism on this question of what is required to be “pro-Israel,” and it shows how ready some movement conservatives are to turn against even those Republican candidates who are reliable hawks when there is the slightest hint of deviation from their own hard line. As it turned out, the “hints” in Campbell’s case were misleading and meaningless. Campbell is safe from continued attacks because he is actually a dangerous and aggressive hawk himself, exemplified by his support for Israeli military action against Iran, but if someone as genuinely hawkish as Campbell can be targeted even temporarily with a smear campaign for being “anti-Israel” there is not going to be much chance for candidates who hold skeptical, realist or non-interventionist views within the Republican electorate. As for Campbell, he will be sure not to risk taking any positions that might be misinterpreted in the future. Of course, the reinforcement of the party line is the point of the exercise, so unfortunately it scarcely matters that some of the enforcers have shredded their credibility in the process.

UPDATE: Philip Klein at AmSpec

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary

David Frum at FrumForum on Klein and Rubin

Jim Antle at AmSpec on Larison

Larison responds to Antle

UPDATE #2: Jim Antle at AmSpec responds to Larison

Larison responds to Antle

Pejman Yousefzadeh at New Ledger with an interview with Campbell

UPDATE #3: Jacob Heilbrunn at National Interest

UPDATE #4: Tim Mak at FrumForum

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Filed under Israel/Palestine, Political Figures

2 responses to “The California Senate Race And Israel

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