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On June 1st, a Politico.com article about Congresswoman Donna Edwards (MD-04), "Should Edwards be shvitzing?", was published.  The article states that there are some members within her district's Jewish Community that are not pleased with her stance on Israel.  As a result, there is speculation that these constituents may try to back a primary challenger whose positions on Israel are more in line with former Congressman Al Wynn.

Yesterday, Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street announced a fundraising appeal to support Congresswoman Edwards against any pending challenger.  Within the first four hours of the appeal, there were contibutions from 270 people totaling $15,000.  Within the first 24 hours, there were over 500 donors contributing $25,000.

Donna Edwards is a true progressive democrat, working for a just peace in the Israeli/Palestinian and the Arab/Israeli conflicts.  As a result, she was one of J Street PACs first endorsed candidates in 2008, and a present target of established, "status quo" pro-Israel people.  With the continued help of progressive democrats, she can defeat any challenger.  

At the end of May, Congresswoman Edwards traveled to Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip along with Democratic Congressmen Brian Baird (WA-03) and Peter Welch (VT-AL).  While there, she met with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, Adviser to Prime Minister Ron Dermer, Sderot Mayor David Buskila, Chair of the Settler Movement's Yesha Council Danny Dayan, and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni.  She also met with Palestinian Authority government ministers in Ramallah, and Palestinian political leaders Hanan Ashrawi and Mustafa Barghouti.

According to an interview in the Washington Jewish Week following her trip:

* America, would be making a big mistake if it allows Israel to substitute "outpost closures" for full "settlement closures" throughout the country.

"It was so clear to me, when you drive through the countryside" in the West Bank "and look at the hills where you have" large Jewish settlements amid smaller Palestinian ones, "you could actually see how that would impede any lasting peace agreement with borders that actually leave room for a Palestinian state."

* Following a meeting with Danny Dayan, chair of the Yesha Council, which advocates on behalf of Israeli settlers, Edwards concluded that "natural growth," or the view that settlement expansion is a natural and necessary process, is an obstacle to a functional two-state solution.

"It will be impossible to" form a separate Palestinian state "if settlements are allowed to continue to develop."

* Of the Israeli government's apparent refusal to halt the expansion of settlement communities, Edwards said that President Barack Obama could provide a much-needed diplomatic boost. "Obama's leadership right now in this process is really critical to where we end up," she said.

* Playing political observer as the Knesset members debated a controversial bill that would make it a criminal offense to, in any form, define Israel as anything but a Jewish and democratic state, Edwards says she was appalled when that measure passed a preliminary vote.

"It was really shocking," she said. "We watched the vote happen and we watched the debate, which was really fascinating because I didn't think it would win."

The bill -- which eventually died, but would have effectively silenced those who defame the state -- epitomized for Edwards "what it means to be in the Arab minority."

"As an African American woman, I really didn't have a perception of a significant minority population in Israel, and there is," Edwards explained. "It struck me that there are issues that are raised in any country when you have to balance the interests of the majority with the minority" so that "people feel like they enjoy the full breadth of their citizenship. In Israel, this is a work in progress."

In addition to her trip, Edwards' support for a more active approach to diplomacy in the Middle East led her to sign a recent letter, supported by J Street, urging President Obama to be a key player in the push for a final peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.  She did not sign a competing "Dear Colleague" letter supported by AIPAC.  Of that letter, the Congresswoman said, "I wasn't comfortable with the language" and "(the letter) really didn't speak to my concerns about what needed to happen in the (peace) process."

Here is the fundraising letter from Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director of J Street:

Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D, MD-04), one of JStreetPAC's first endorsed candidates, is under attack from the right-wing for her views on Israel - and she needs our help right now.

Last week, Politico ran a story entitled "Should Edwards be shvitzing?," quoting three separate Jewish community officials in her district signaling "concern" about her "reservations about support for Israel that others" don't share. Now, some are "preparing to back a primary challenge to Edwards." All because she doesn't buy their hawkish views of what it means to be pro-Israel.

This is exactly how -- for decades -- established pro-Israel groups have enforced right-wing message discipline on Israel in Congress. They intimidate Members of Congress, particularly junior ones, and threaten to fund a challenge.

But not this time -- and not to our friend Donna Edwards.

Let's show that there's real support for pro-Israel, pro-peace members of Congress by helping Congresswoman Donna Edwards scare off any possible challengers.

Make sure to put a note in the comment on the contribution form that your contribution is for Donna Edwards. Your entire contribution will go directly to her campaign.

Even early in her Congressional career, she has fast become a real leader on our issues. She's supported every Congressional resolution and letter backing strong U.S. leadership to achieve a two-state solution.  She's spoken out on the need for an end to violence, an end to settlement expansion and for greater humanitarian aid for Gaza.

She's proudly refused to toe a hawkish line on Israel, while reaffirming her belief that Israel will only be secure when the US engages strongly to bring about a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

"As Americans, we have a strong interest in ensuring peace, stability, and security for Israel and the entire Middle East, and that is why I urge American diplomacy to be active and fully engaged in the region with our international partners to find a lasting solution," Congresswoman Edwards stated this January.

She's already visited Israel and the West Bank, and is one of a handful of Members of Congress to have visited Gaza this year to get a first-hand view of the situation.

The status quo may want to scare Congresswoman Edwards away from taking a leadership position on these issues within her party and in Congress. We need to send a message that this kind of intimidation doesn't fly any longer.  Thanks to you - and to JStreetPAC - Congresswoman Edwards will have the funds she needs to fight off any challengers.

Don't forget to put a comment in the contribution form that your gift is for Donna Edwards' campaign.

Thanks so much.

Jeremy Ben-Ami
Executive Director
JStreetPAC
June 9, 2009

To Support Congresswoman Donna Edwards through JStreetPAC
Go to this page and add Donna Edwards name into the "comment" section.

To recommend Congressmen Brian Baird and Peter Welch for inclusion in JStreetPACs next list of endorsed candidates
Go to this page

Originally posted to rbguy on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 07:43 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Inventing a conflict where there is none (6+ / 0-)

    There is no tension between the Jewish community and Donna Edwards. No one will run a serious primary challenge against Donna Edwards over Israel. Both sides are inventing a conflict to help their fundraising.

    "I'm going to be on you like a numerator on a denominator." -Principal Skinner

    by dufffbeer on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:02:17 PM PDT

    •  It helps to nip such challenges in the bud. (5+ / 0-)

      A weed is much more easily whacked in the early stages.

      "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

      by Geekesque on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:21:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Given that the guy who wants to challenge her (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ArthurCrandall

        is anti-choice, this isn't going anywhere.

        "i find the resemblace of DemocraticLuntz and Arken to Disney style yapping jackals to be astoundingly accurate"

        by DemocraticLuntz on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:52:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I checked this out last week and found (4+ / 0-)

          basically her problems stem from the fact she came out of left field.  Al Wynn had a history in the state legislature prior to his going to congress.  He had a long history of being very strong on issues relating to Israel.  He used to be good on constituent services.  Then he got sloppy.  He thought he had a permanent seat.  He got distracted and she damn near took him out the first time she ran.  He still didn't take her seriously.  She worked to build the coalitions and won.

          The vote cited in the Politico article was of concern to some, and her novice status meant she had to work to build rapport.  But she has been doing that and people are not rushing to dump her over one vote.

          Moreover, she is new and beat a longtime incumbent.  No one is rushing to unseat her - at least on the Democratic side.

          Yes, she has some work to do, but she is doing it and will be fine.  Going to Jstreet is exactly the sort of thing one would expect from her given her record here and in general.  

          She knows that a lot of Jews are not knee-jerk Likudniks.  She knows a lot of Jews are not happy with the way Bibi and company act.  She also knows there is legitimate concern on all sides about safety.  

          I think she will also build a good working relationship on this issue with Van Hollen(who is in the adjacent district) and will be around for a long time.

    •  Duffbear is right, actually. (0+ / 0-)

      Edwards is mostly mainstream, and supportive of Israeli policies, with small modifications.
      From here.

      ...other than the one "present" vote on a non-binding resolution, I'm hard-pressed to find anything that Edwards has said which places her out of the mainstream on Israel. Edwards certainly comes from a left-wing perspective -- Daniel Levy, a former aide to Ehud Barak and Yossi Beilin and currently a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, has been an adviser to her on the issue -- and she professes to not be an expert, but in that campaign interview she rejects a Palestinian right of return to Israel proper, says the U.S. shouldn't negotiate with Hamas unless the group gives up terror and violence, wants accountability on Palestinian aid and (pre-Obama) calls for stepped-up U.S. involvement in the Middle East. And at the town hall meeting she sponsored earlier this year on the Middle East that's mentioned in the Politico article, Edwards didn't say anything particularly controversial, defending her "present" vote but also stating thatshe "did not want to send a signal to anyone that it was appropriate to send rockets into Israel."

      The panel itself was a little lopsided to the left, with Levy and a representative from the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem turning out to be the most "right-wing" of the five and no one from the Israeli government or a mainstream pro-Israel group invited. Edwards said at the time that she wanted a moderate discussion -- and to be fair, she didn't invite anyone from a Palestinian or Arab advocacy organization either.

      "The sword of murder is not the balance of justice." Mom's Day Statement

      by Tom J on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:44:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You would think that but some in lukid are idiots (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lysias, rbguy

      From http://www.jpost.com/... comes a clown.

      In a sign of growing concern in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government over US President Barack Obama's Middle East policies, Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled proposed Israeli sanctions on the US in a letter to cabinet ministers on Sunday.

      In the 11-page letter, obtained by The Jerusalem Post from a minister on Monday, Peled recommends steps Israel can take to compensate for the shift in American policy, which he believes has become hostile to Israel.

      "Obama's ascendance represents a turning point in America's approach to the region, especially to Israel," he wrote in the letter. "The new administration believes that in order to fight terror, guarantee stability and withdraw from Iraq, a new diplomatic slant is needed involving drastic steps to pacify the Muslim world and the adoption of a more balanced approach to Israel, including intensive pressure to stop building in settlements, remove outposts and advance the formation of a Palestinian state."

      What a clown.  Helping Israel is bad according to this clown

      But in the interim, the minister suggests reconsidering military and civilian purchases from the US, selling sensitive equipment that the Washington opposes distributing internationally, and allowing other countries that compete with the US to get involved with the peace process and be given a foothold for their military forces and intelligence agencies.

      Peled said that shifting military acquisition to America's competition would make Israel less dependent on the US. For instance, he suggested buying planes from the France-based Airbus firm instead of the American Boeing.

      I am all for competition, but giving our secrets away does not an ally make.  What a clown.

      In what may be his most controversial suggestion, Peled recommends intervening in American congressional races to weaken Obama and asking American Jewish donors not to contribute to Democratic congressional candidates. He predicted that this would result in Democratic candidates pressuring Obama to become more pro-Israel.

      WHAT A MOTHER FUCKING CLOWN!  

      Peled personally gave the letter to Netanyahu at Sunday's cabinet meeting and urged him to take it seriously. But a source close to the prime minister reacted to it with scorn and stressed that none of Peled's suggestions would be implemented.

      This clown then gets slapped down hard by a guy who is trying to not alienate anyone working in his coalition!  WHAT A FUCKING CLOWN

      Then its a bunch of mixed reactions at how much damage this has done to us/israel relations but total disgust at this fool.  

      Donate to JSTREET candidates and whatever methods to get this clown Yossi Peled out of politics!  I sure am.  He wants to meddle in our elections?  I am gonna make it my goal to meddle in his career!  What a clown.

  •  I love her for holding a talk on Gaza and NOT (5+ / 0-)

    inviting aipac. she said they were too extreme and not helpful.

    "The sword of murder is not the balance of justice." Mom's Day Statement

    by Tom J on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:11:57 PM PDT

  •  Donna Edwards is pretty amazing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sofia, MBNYC, Terra Mystica, rbguy

    and I appreciate your posting this.  The only way to respond to the right wing war mongers is by supporting people who stand up to them.

    "Politics is not left, right or center ... It's about improving people's lives." -Paul Wellstone

    by maggiejean on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:16:28 PM PDT

  •  I wish she was my Representative... nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenskeeper, Terra Mystica, rbguy
  •  Donna Edwards is awesome. (5+ / 0-)

    Met her in Chicago; she's really nice, smart and approachable. Frankly, if I look at some of our AA electeds in this state, I wish she'd just move to New York.

    Dear republicans: teabagging is when the gogo-boy slaps his balls into your face. Thanks.

    by MBNYC on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:34:48 PM PDT

    •  Her liquors drunkened me in Austin into (0+ / 0-)

      making out with terrypinder.

      "i find the resemblace of DemocraticLuntz and Arken to Disney style yapping jackals to be astoundingly accurate"

      by DemocraticLuntz on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 08:54:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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