Jewish Journal


July 18, 2012

House hopeful Sinema responds to criticism: I will be a strong voice for Israel in ‎Congress



Kyrsten Sinema (Photo: Courtesy of Kyrsten Sinema for Congress)

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. ‎

Sincerely, ‎

Kyrsten Sinema

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