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The Facts on Joe Sestak's Record: Wrong on Israel - Wrong for the Senate

Joe_SestakThe Facts on Joe Sestak's Record:Wrong on Israel - Wrong for the Senate

FACT: Joe Sestak signed the controversial letter calling on President Obama to pressure Israel to relax security measures affecting Hamas-controlled Gaza.

  • Joe Sestak was one of the "Gaza 54" - 54 Democrat House members who signed a letter (the McDermott-Ellison letter) to President Obama calling on him to pressure Israel to relax their security measures into and out of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
  • "Ellison, McCollum and Oberstar urge Obama to lift Gaza blockade," Minnesota Independent, 1/26/09
  • These security measures were implemented to counter the threat from terrorism originating from the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip.
    "Gaza Crossings: Choked Passages to Frustration," New York Times, 3/4/06
  • Sestak's public comments on this action portrayed the humanitarian issues facing Gaza residents as Israel's fault, letting Hamas off the hook.
    "Sestak Under the Gun After Signing on to letter," Philadelphia Exponent, 2/4/10,
  • A leading pro-Israel Democrat, Eliot Engel (D-NY) lamented that the members who signed the letter were "misinformed" and influenced by "extreme fringe elements." Engel accused Sestak and the others of having diverged from the pro-Israel "mainstream of the party."
    "Congressman Engel interview: Worry about Iran, don't worry about the fringe," Rosner's Domain [blog], Jerusalem Post, 2/16/10,

FACT: Sestak was endorsed and funded by J Street's political action committee.

  • J Street has been controversial since its inception, in part because of the role played in its creation and funding by supporters with a demonstrated record of hostility to Israel, including George Soros.
    "New 'Pro Israel, Pro Peace' Political Group Launches," Mother Jones, 4/15/08,
  • The Jerusalem Post reported that J Street's Finance committee, a cohort of donors who have contributed at least $10,000 to the group - includes a number who also contribute to organizations hostile to Israel.
  • Lebanese-American businessman Richard Abdoo, is also a board member of Amideast and a former board member of the Arab American Institute,
  • Genevieve Lynch, is also a member of the National Iranian American Council board.
  • Smaller donors included several leaders of Muslim student groups, Saudi- and Iranian-born Americans, and Palestinian- and Arab-American businessmen who also give to Arab-American PACs

"Muslims, Arabs among J Street donors," Jerusalem Post, 8/14/09,

  • In October, more than a dozen Members of Congress - including both Democratic Senators from New York and every Republican save one, rescinded their initial agreement to serve on the host committee for J Street's first conference.
    "Gillibrand, Schumer, drop out of J Street conference," Ben Smith's blog, Politico, 10/15/09, "When Pro-Israel Is Not Very Pro-Israel," Weekly Standard, 11/9/09,

FACT: Sestak rarely supports the measures identified as top priorities by mainstream supporters of the US-Israel relationship.

  • This year, Sestak did not sign Hoyer-Cantor letter reaffirming US-Israel friendship even though more than three-quarters of the House did.
    Signatories to Hoyer-Cantor Letter Reaffirming the U.S.-Israel Alliance, AIPAC
  • Sestak did not cosponsor the Iran sanctions bill that passed the House of Representatives even though 343 out of 435 House members did.
    H.R. 2194:, Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2009, GOVTRACK
  • Last year, Sestak did not sign a letter urging President Obama to press Arab nations to take steps to demonstrate commitment to peace with Israel even though 328 of his colleagues did.
    Signatories to Hoyer-Cantor Letter Reaffirming the U.S.-Israel Alliance, AIPAC
  • In 2007, Sestak voted for an amendment to constrain the President's ability to respond to the threat from Iran, even though pro-Israel activists warned that, in the words of Rep. Shelley Berkeley (D-NV), "This is not the time to be tying our hands on Iran."
    House of Represenatives, Roll Call Vote #364, 5/16/07,

FACT: Sestak gave the keynote speech at a fundraiser for CAIR, a group deemed a supporter of terrorism even by leading Democrats like Senators Schumer and Durbin.

  • In 2007, Sestak gave the keynote address at a banquet and fundraiser for the Philadelphia Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
  • In response to concerns about the group, Sestak said CAIR was a "legitimate organization" doing "good work."
    "Sestak Scheduled Speech to Muslim Group Causes Uproar," Politico, 3/19/07,
  • Also in 2007, Senator Boxer took the rare step of rescinding an official award to a constituent upon learning that the individual was an official in the CAIR organization.
    "Boxer, Muslim group say skirmish resolved," Associated Press, 1/24/07,
  • Earlier, Senator Schumer described CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, as an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism" and "intimate links with Hamas."
  • Also earlier, Durbin described CAIR as "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect."
    "CAIR Islamists Fooling the Establishment" by Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha, Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2006,


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