July 18, 2012 | 5:25 am
A couple of days ago I wrote about the Israel-related record of AZ-09 House candidate Kyrsten Sinema (What Congress candidate Sinema’s emails reveal about her Israel position). It painted candidate Sinema as one who doesn’t have a “gut feeling” support for Israel: “She doesn’t have it. If one wants a candidate that is instinctively pro-Israel, Sinema is probably not the one – at least not in the sense most people understand what ‘pro-Israel’ means”. Sinema, understandably, thought this assessment of her views didn’t stand up to scrutiny – and sent us a detailed response.
In her response, she deals with claims made by her opponent, fellow Democratic hopeful Andrei Cherny, and those of the story I posted on Sunday.
We are happy to publish this response in full. Here’s Sinema:
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your story. I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.
When my opponent ran for office in California, he claimed that his entirely pro-choice opponent was actually anti-choice. The attack was clearly false and called “really dirty politics” by the local chapter of the National Association of Women, yet Mr. Cherny continues to defend the ugly tactics he used then. Unfortunately, he is attempting the exact same type of smears here in Arizona by falsely accusing me of failing to support Israel.
The truth is that I have a proven record of support for Israel and will be a strong voice for Israel in Congress.
For example, in 2008, I worked with George Weisz of Arizona’s AIPAC to craft a bill in the Arizona legislature that requires our state’s retirement systems to divest from companies that do business with Iran’s oil sector. The bill passed unanimously and was signed by Governor Napolitano.
I have donated money to AIPAC. I have attended AIPAC events in Arizona as far back as 2004. I have traveled to Israel, which was one of the most positive and educational experiences of my life.
When Mr. Cherny alleges that I have a ten year track record of taking positions at odds with American policy, what he means is that I was a principled opponent of George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I stand by my positions that invading Iraq and Afghanistan were mistakes because there were far more prudent options available. I believe history has proven that I was correct. Yet, as a result of his attacks on me, it is reasonable to conclude that Mr. Cherny agrees with how the Bush administration conducted itself in Iraq and Afghanistan. I didn’t agree with President Bush ten years ago, and I certainly don’t now.
It is an unfortunate fact that some of the people who also opposed the wars made remarks that were critical of Israel. However, I did not make those remarks. In fact, I disagreed with them then, I continue to disagree with them. Yet, Mr. Cherny has chosen to put their words in my mouth, which is both inaccurate and dishonest. I have given hundreds and hundreds of interviews and speeches. None of them were critical of Israel. That’s why my opponent keeps pointing to remarks made by other people and pretending that they were speaking for me.
I speak for myself. I support Israel. I support a two-state solution.
In response to two specific items in your piece, in 2006, I placed an ad in the local “Muslim yellow pages” put together by Marwan Ahmad. When I learned that Mr. Ahmad had omitted information about Israel and questioned Israel’s right to exist, I rescinded my support. Governor Napolitano, who had also placed an ad in the directory, did the exact same thing. Yet, I highly doubt that Mr. Cherny will accuse the Secretary of Homeland Security of being “dangerous” to Israel.
Regarding my position paper on Israel, it is available on my website. When a gentleman emailed me to ask me about whether I support a “demilitarized Palestine,” I took the time to look into his concern and let him know that I stand by my position paper.
I have learned that if democracy is going to function, it is important for leaders to work with people who are different from themselves, or with whom they may disagree on some issues. I worked in a very conservative legislature in Arizona, and was able to pass legislation because I was willing to work with conservatives, even when our ideological viewpoints were very, very different. I sought common ground and worked to deliver results in the areas where we could agree, something that doesn’t happen very much in Washington these days.
In this campaign for Congress, there will be differences of opinion on how to address the many issues that our nation faces in the years to come, and it’s true that Mr. Cherny and I disagree on some of those issues. However, Israel isn’t one of them. It’s unfortunate that he has decided to create differences where none exist, because the United States’ relationship with Israel should be more than a political punch line used to score cheap political points.
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