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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Tuesday, February 25, 2003


Dean's foreign policy: what about Israel/Palestine?

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, February 25, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Michael Tomasky here, filling in for Eric Alterman (author of What Liberal Media?) praises Dean's stance on foreign policy at Altercation blog:

Howard Dean says it wonderfully in a major foreign-policy speech he delivered in Iowa on Monday. He comes as close as I’ve heard any Democrat come to laying out some of the above; he even takes a punch at Colin Powell for the “sketchiness” of his evidence.

Dean is far and away the most serious of the Democratic candidates to this point. Of course, he benefits from the dynamic of being behind and needing to win press notices, so he has to say attention-getting things that will differentiate him from the pack. If he gains ground, will he then trim his sails and speak more cautiously? We can’t know, but we know right now that he’s the only one saying virtually all the things a Democrat ought to say. My ticket right now is Dean-Clark, as in General Wesley, profiled by moi in the current American Prospect but the story is strangely un-linkable.

However, a reader of Alterman's has some critique of Dean regarding his (lack of?) stance on the Israel/Palestinian issue. They write:

Dean recently told the Jewish newspaper, FORWARD, that when it comes to Israel, “I stand with AIPAC.” And he hired a former President of AIPAC, Steve Grossman, as his finance director. That means that he essentially shares the worldview of those who support this war. And it means that he will join AIPAC in in blocking any moves toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

AIPAC is a hawkish group which does not support negotiations as a means of resolving the conflict in Israel/Palestine. Dean's hardline on the matter is not surprising, but he certainly hasn't gone out of his way to address the issue. Personally speaking, I think AIPAC is wrong, but this isn't about my beliefes, it's about Dean. Can anyone find documentation in speeches or other media about what Dean's opinions are regarding Israel/Palestine? Given that there is no mention ofthe conflict on his campaign website, it's important that we find out. Whether or not one agrees or disagrees, knowing where he stands is important.

UPDATE: David of the NYC group clarifies the role of AIPAC:

I think it is probably unfair (and potentially harmful to Dean) to characterize AIPAC simply as "a hawkish group which does not support negotiations as a means of resolving the conflict in Israel/Palestine." AIPAC's history is a somewhat more complicated. During the `90s, under the leadership of Steve Grossman (the man who is now Dean's finance director), AIPAC supported Oslo. But, both before & after Grossman, AIPAC's leadership has definitely been more hawkish and wary of peace negotiations. (As an aside, it's worth noting that even though the vast majority of Israelis support a two-state solution, most now also are reluctant to re-engage in negotiations with the present Palestinian leadership.)

This piece in the American Prospect is critical of AIPAC, but I think it does shed light on the organization's evolution over the years. And even though AIPAC's leadership may stand to the right of many American Jews, many of the rank-and-file members do not. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to say both that you support AIPAC and that you support peace negotiations and/or the creation of an independent Palestinian state.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.