Jewish Democrats attack Jane Harman primary opponent. Is there a trend here?

You don’t hear many congressional candidates campaigning on a platform that includes a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that’s what’s happening in California – and the National Jewish Democratic Council isn’t very happy with the Democratic hopeful who’s pitching that line.

Marcy Winograd’s campaign to unseat Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif) in next week’s Democratic primary has been sputtering badly, according to the LA Weekly, and she apparently hopes attacking Israel will give her dark-horse campaign some traction.

In a political universe where support for a Jewish Israel is virtually universal, Winograd says she supports a single, bi-national state.

"Not only do I think a two-state solution is unrealistic, but also fundamentally wrong, because it only reinforces heightened nationalism,” Winograd said in a recent statement. “You cannot establish a democracy in a state founded on the institutionalized superiority or exclusivity of one of religion, ethnicity or culture. I do not support the notion of an Islamic state or a Christian state any more than I support a Jewish state."

In a blog in The Hill newspaper, she said she would have joined the Gaza flotilla “had I not been in the middle of a congressional campaign, challenging Jane Harman — a hostess of AIPAC dinners in her home in Venice.”

And in case anybody missed the point about the pro-Israel lobby, she added: “As a Jewish woman of conscience, as a congressional candidate, I say, ‘Not in my name. Not in the name of my country shall this war on human rights be waged.’ It is time for congress members, living in political fear of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to wake up, rip off their muzzles, act in the best interests of our country, and to say once and for all we cannot support state-sponsored terrorism because not only is it inhumane but also a threat to international security.”

Yesterday the NJDC slammed the challenger.

"Winograd’s position on Israel stands in direct contrast to President Obama’s efforts to foster a two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” said NJDC CEO Forman. "A one state solution means the end of Israel, period. Winograd needs to know that support for a one-state solution is not acceptable to Jews, Democrats, and those who care about peace with dignity for Israelis and Palestinians."

The NJDC action came a week after its GOP counterpart, the Republican Jewish Coalition, repudiated the winner in the recent Kentucky GOP primary, libertarian/tea partier Rand Paul.

The Democrats have another problem: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who this week labeled the flotilla raid “reckless, pre-meditated violence waged against innocent people” and called for Washington to “redefine its relationship” with Israel.

So do Kucinich and Winograd mean hostility to Israel catching on in a political mainstream where it has been largely taboo for years? I don’t think so; the overwhelming majority of incumbents and challengers in both parties stick pretty close to AIPAC talking points whenever the subject of the Middle East comes up.

And Winograd looks like she’s on track for a crushing defeat, according to some polls.

This week’s Gaza flotilla incident has been a big PR hit for Israel, no doubt about it, but there’s no evidence of any impact on electoral politics, where more other factors – like campaign money and focused activism – play a more important role than the latest Middle East news sensation.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.