This morning, a small army of elected officials and Jewish advocates amassed on Second Avenue, not far from the United Nations, to press their case that Israel is completely justified in its forceful reaction to the rocket attacks against it. In New York City, of course, support for Israel is an almost universally acknowledged political principle with very few deviations. Indeed, so many elected officials crowded together that they had trouble squeezing into the allotted area.
Naturally, all four of the likely Democratic candidates for mayor were present and more than eager to burnish their foreign policy credentials in light of the burgeoning international controversy. In order to profess their unyielding belief in the righteousness of Israel’s military response in Gaza, each pol described personally visiting the Jewish State, three of them to the exact same small town. We decided to simply transcribe their remarks in the order that they spoke.
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In one of the more memorable exchanges of tonight’s final presidential debate, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney clashed while discussing the focus of our military. After Mr. Romney attacked Mr. Obama over the size of the U.S. Navy and Air Force, Mr. Obama accused his Republican rival of being uneducated about “how our military works,” quipping, “The question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships.”
At a town hall last night in Bed-Stuy, congressional candidates Hakeem Jeffries and Charles Barron gave their pitches and took questions, striking familiar themes: Mr. Jeffries portrayed himself as a serious legislator while Mr. Barron proclaimed his ability to help lead a national movement to change the country.
As the two competitors spoke at different times in different rooms, they never interacted or had the opportunity to have a fiery back-and-forth, as already happened on Inside City Hall. However, both candidates did take identical questions on foreign policy, “especially related around Africa and the Caribbean,” and their responses showed an interesting yet unsurprising divergence.
“This is a very diverse district and so there are going to be different parts of the district that have significant foreign policy interests,” Mr. Jeffries noted, adding that Africa was dear to the heart of many residents in places like Bed-Stuy, the Caribbean was important to Canarsie and Flatlands, and, unprompted, stressed the importance of Israel as well.
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The various candidates for an open Queens congressional race are rushing to demonstrate unwavering support for Israel, and one of them, Democratic Assemblyman Rory Lancman, is hustling to try and make that argument the hardest.
For example, earlier today, Mr. Lancman held a press conference calling on the U.S. Department of State to change its policies and allow its passports to recognize the country of Israel as a birthplace for citizens born in Jerusalem
“Israel is a key part of this race. A big part of a Congress Member’s responsibility is to help shape foreign policy for this country,” Mr. Lancman told The Politicker after the event. ”Where one stands on Israel, what one’s record on Israel has been, and what one’s vision is for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, I think is going to be a big part of the primary and a big part of the general election.”
Councilman Dan Halloran has an interesting dilemma.
On one hand, he declared his campaign for congress with a laser-like focus on strengthening the United States’ relationship with Israel and the Democratic-leaning Queens district’s Jewish voters. On the other hand, he’s a prominent local supporter of Ron Paul, who opposes foreign intervention.
Mr. Paul’s beliefs, of course, are hardly consistent with what pro-Israel American politicians typically advocate. For example, he has said Israel should be left to its own devices if Iran attacks it.
Announcing his campaign for an open eastern Queens Congressional seat this afternoon, Democratic Assemblyman Rory Lancman started laying the groundwork for his campaign’s messaging. In addition to the standard political stance of fighting for middle class families, Mr. Lancman heavily emphasized issues of counterterrorism and safety, likely an attempt to appeal to foreign-policy minded Jewish voters in the district.
Even the campaign signs being waved by the crowd resembled the Israeli flag.
“As an Assemblyman, I wrote the law that protects authors and journalists, who expose terrorists,” he noted early on in his speech.
Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman outlined his foreign policy ideas in a speech today at Southern New Hampshire University. Mr. Huntsman wants to pull back from Afghanistan, but he’s ready to get a lot more involved in Iran.