In the recent Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) attack against former Congressman David Bonior they paint him as an extreme anti-Israel zealot and decry his role in Senator Barack Obama’s campaign as an anti-Israel adviser. While the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) does not agree with every position that Bonior has taken in his 35 years of public service, this hysterical distortion of both Bonior’s record and his role in the campaign is outrageous.
Bonior served as former Senator John Edwards’s Campaign Manager and Obama picked him to be his representative at the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee. In neither of these roles was Bonior a Middle East or foreign policy adviser nor did Bonior have any affect on either campaign’s policies toward Israel.
Bonior has a mixed record on the US-Israel relationship, but the RJC statement that he “opposed US aid to Israel and supported arms sales to Arab states” is inaccurate. Bonior’s voting record shows that he supported foreign aid and voted against arm sales. He supported twenty-seven out of thirty-three foreign aid bills, where Israel was the largest recipient, from 1990 to when he left congress in 2002 and voted against the cutting of aid to Israel in 1999 (Campbell Amendment). Moreover, he opposed the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia in 1992 (1). Lastly, in Bonior’s four years as Democratic Majority Whip and seven years as the Minority Whip, he did not use his considerable power to lead efforts to work against the US-Israel relationship.
A look at Senator John McCain’s voting record illustrates just how ludicrous the RJC attacks on Bonior are. For example, in 1991, McCain did not sign the letter opposing arms sales to Saudi Arabia nor did he sign the letter urging then Secretary of State James Baker to keep Syria on the State Department terrorism list (2). Moreover, in 2001 and 1993 McCain voted against foreign aid (3). Of course, the NJDC does not make the claim that McCain is anti-Israel, but by the RJC standards McCain could be attacked as anti-Israel for his problematic votes.
The Republican’s and RJC’s ‘guilt by association’ tactic that they use when they try to connect Bonior to Obama on Israel issues is unfair and misleading. NJDC believes that candidates should be measured by their voting records and public statements. However, by RJC’s standards McCain has a lot to answer for. Using their standards, not ours, we think McCain ought to explain his following, albeit incomplete, list of associations:
• James Baker, President George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State
• Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser
• Charlie Black, former Chair of BKSH & Associates and McCain’s Chief Strategist
• Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and McCain’s Chief Economic Adviser
• John Hagee, Founder and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church
• Rod Parsley, a televangelist and Senior Pastor of World Harvest Church
• Clayton Williams, Texas Politician
Enough is enough. Stop this ‘guilt by association game’ and these fear and smear tactics.
(1) In 1992, Bonior signed the Levine/Weber letter to President Bush opposing sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia.
(2) In 1991, McCain did not sign the Metzenbaum/Packwood letter to President Bush opposing the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia. In the same year, McCain also did not sign the Grassley/Lautenber letter urging Secretary Baker to keep Syria on the State Department terrorism list.
(3) In 2001, McCain was one of 27 Senators to vote against the Foreign Aid Appropriations Bill. In 1993, McCain was one of 38 Senators to vote against the 1992-1993 Foreign Aid Appropriations Authorization.