Capuano supports Israel’s right to self-defense, sort of

By | October 13, 2009

Several years ago, I wrote to Congressman Michael Capuano asking why he didn’t sign an ad published by the CJP which many other politicians signed, attesting to Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist attacks.  A friend has pointed out that I was remiss in not posting Capuano’s response, which seems somewhat more significant now than it was then, since Capuano is now running for the Senate.

A member of Capuano’s staff responded in an email message which read as follows:

Congressman Capuano has referred your email message to me. You ask why he did not sign the CJP ad in the Globe and Herald. As I recall, we had a rather short time to review the text and no opportunity to contribute to its drafting.

I hope you know that he did vote, that same week, in favor of H. Res. 921, in defense of Israel’s right, as a sovereign democratic state, to take appropriate action to defend itself. He also wrote a letter of support, which I attach and which was posted on JCRC website.

Please feel free to call if you have further questions.

I am not terribly impressed with the claim that there wasn’t enough time for Capuano to review the text.  There was enough time for every other member of the Massachusetts delegation to review it and decide to sign.

Furthermore, I cannot at this time find Capuano’s letter posted on the JCRC Web site, although I did find a reference to it in minutes of a JCRC Board meeting.  Also, in the letter that Capuano wrote, he does not actually state explicitly that he supports Israel’s right to defend itself.  His letter, dated July 16, 2006, reads:

Dear Friends,

I regret that I cannot be present at your rally in support of Israel and peace.  I honored the vision and courage of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when, last year, he withdrew Israeli settlers from Gaza.  I admired, too, the wisdom and courage of Prime Minister Ehud Barak when he withdrew Israeli troops from south Lebanon.  I share your outrage and your anguish that terrorists, seeking to make a mockery of those brave actions, have attacked Israel from the very lands it relinquished in search of peace.

I mourn with you the loss of life among all the suffering peoples of the region.  I have long believed that only the United States exercises, or could exercise, sufficient influence in the region to broker a lasting peace.  I share with you a profound desire to see Israel living in peace with its neighbors, and I, with other Members of Congress, will be urging the President and the Secretary of State to work to that end.

This letter goes to great lengths to avoid taking a position in support of Israel’s right to self-defense.  It trivializes attacks against Israel by claiming that their motive is “to make a mockery” of Israeli efforts to achieve peace, rather than their real motive, which is to destroy Israel.  It draws a noxious moral equivalency between the suffering of Israelis from terror attacks and the suffering of Palestinians from Israel’s efforts to defend itself.  I could go on, but you get the point.

Aside from all this a letter posted on a Web site is far, far less prominent than a full-page ad published in both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald.

I am at a loss to explain why someone who appears to have gone to great lengths to avoid taking a public stand in favor of Israel’s right to self-defense, would then vote in favor of H. Res. 921, which does exactly that in rather strong terms.  My best guess is that, again, a vote in favor of a House Resolution is far less prominent than a full-page ad in the two biggest Boston newspapers.

It seems that Capuano is willing to support Israel’s right to self-defense only if he doesn’t have to be terribly public about it.

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One thought on “Capuano supports Israel’s right to self-defense, sort of

  1. Nate

    I wish people could just say what they mean when talking about Israel. No one with half a brain disagrees that a country should be able to defend itself against terrorist attack. The argument is whether or not one calls Hezbollah terrorists. So let’s say why we mean, even if every politician in the world cannot or will not.


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