Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2012, Page 30

Election Watch

In Redistricting Race, Howard Berman (D-CA) Pulling Out All the Stops for Israel

By Janet McMahon


Pro-Israel PAC Contributions to 2012 Congressional Candidates (175KB PDF)

The effects of the 2010 census are being felt in many congressional races this year, as states which gained or lost population had to reconfigure their congressional districts accordingly. This has resulted more than once in newly created districts where two incumbents battle for a single available seat.

Such was the case in Ohio, where Democratic incumbents and frequent congressional allies Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur—both members of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,'s 2010 Congressional Hall of Fame—vied to represent the state's new 9th congressional district, redrawn to include more of Kaptur's former district than Kucinich's. Thus, while Kucinich raised $965,670 to Kaptur's $370,360, it is Kaptur, the number two Democrat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, who won the March 6 primary. That Kucinich's voice and conscience will not be heard in the 113th Congress is a loss for all Americans. We fervently hope and trust that he will not depart the national stage, but instead heed popular demand and return to perform in a new role.

Meanwhile, in California's new 30th congressional district, Rep. Howard "Even-before-I-was-a-Democrat-I-was-a-Zionist" Berman is running against fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman. (Or, as the Jewish Journal banner reads, "Two Jews, One District.") Sherman was a member of our 2010 Congressional Hall of Shame; Berman barely missed the cut by casting only four instead of five negative votes.

Formerly chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Berman is now its ranking Democrat. While Kaptur emphasized her ability to bring home the bacon to her Ohio constituents, Berman continues to bring home the bacon to a foreign country—courtesy of the American taxpayer. In March alone he introduced legislation allowing the Obama administration to give more Iron Dome missile systems to Israel should it request more than the three it already has, and extend again the $3.8 billion balance from Israel's 2003 loan guarantee program, despite the State Department's recommendation that the program be terminated. Both bills were co-sponsored by current committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the rabidly anti-U.N., pro-Israel legislator of Cuban Jewish descent. Who says there's no bipartisanship in Congress?

Not content with these generous gifts to Israel, Berman also introduced a bill to make Israelis eligible for E-2 U.S. work visas. As Israeli activist Uri Avnery commented: "All we have to do now is to buy a small business in America—say a little delicatessen shop in a corner of Brooklyn, for half the price of an apartment in Jerusalem—to automatically become American residents, and eventually citizens."

While Berman, being Jewish, is eligible to automatically become an Israeli citizen, Israel will not extend that courtesy to the more than 98 percent of Americans—and millions of indigenous Palestinians—who are not Jewish. So much for reciprocity between allies.

At a Feb. 21 debate sponsored by the Jewish Journal, Berman and Sherman both claimed to be the stronger backer of sanctions against Iran, while Republican candidate Mark Reed "dismissed the sanctions so far as ineffective and seemed more inclined toward the option of military action by the United States," according to the paper.

Dennis Kucinich, the people of California's 30th congressional district need you!

Janet McMahon is managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.