This story in Politico shows the ways in which any US politician who dares even question Israeli government policy faces a challenge from the Zionist lobby:
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) knocked off incumbent Al Wynn in a 2008 primary by tapping into liberal resentment of the Democratic congressman and portraying him as a tool of K Street who had lost touch with his suburban Maryland constituents.
But after just a year on the job, Edwards herself is facing grumbling from within her own party, not to mention the possibility of a primary opponent with support from an alienated constituency: the suburban Washington-area Jewish community.
“The relationship between the Jewish community and Donna Edwards got off to a rocky start,” said Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. “I would be lying if I told you there wasn’t concern.”
At issue is Edwards’ support for Israel. Jewish leaders say tensions began to rise in January, when the House voted on a nonbinding resolution “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza” and condemning Hamas for its attacks on the Jewish state.
The resolution, introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), passed 390-5 with overwhelming bipartisan support. But Edwards balked at supporting the measure, joining 21 other members who voted “present.”
At the time, Edwards said the “House voted on the wrong resolution at the wrong time” and that she chose not to back the resolution because Congress ought to instead support the United Nations’ call for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East.
Her explanation did little to quell the controversy, and in the weeks after Jewish leaders complained that an Edwards-sponsored forum on the Israel-Palestine conflict failed to include a hawkish, pro-Israel voice and that the first-term congresswoman was unresponsive to requests to organize a meeting with suburban Washington Jewish leaders to discuss the vote.
“The fact that she did not vote in favor [of the resolution] is cause for concern,” said Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of the B’nai Tzedek synagogue in Potomac, Md. “It certainly raises questions for our community.”
Obama can say all he wants about the Middle East while in the region, but he needs to speak more clearly to Jewish leaders, too. Their general inability to understand how criticism doesn’t equal disloyalty has a long way to run. Their insecurity is futile and utterly unneccessary.