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A Letter To A Friend in Boulder (part of Progressive Dems) Concerning Congressional Hopeful Joan Fitz-Gerald’s Middle East Positions (slightly edited from an email sent out)

February 21, 2008

First thanks for the email and thanks to xyz for getting you in touch with me.

I participated in a `Progressive Dems’ caucas training about a month ago and presented their resolution on Iraq to my caucaus. It passed

Concerning Joan Fitz Gerald…

On domestic issues I have come to appreciate her and many of her positions. She is a solid liberal who has earned her spurs on public education, labor, civil rights, and done so consistently from what I can tell. The more I compare her policies with those of Jared Polis the more I have come to believe that on most issues, her approach is more consistent and generally humane.

I don’t much trust Polis despite his position on Iraq and just see him as someone who is trying to turn his millions into political power. That is common enough and there is, I suppose, nothing wrong with it, it just rubs me the wrong way to see someone who thinks he can buy his way to office. Admittedly, he’s certainly not unique in trying this approach. Besides he refuses to define himself on issues, suggesting that this is an old way of doing politics. What is the new way? Just figure out where public opinion is for his funders and potential voting base?

With Joan…I have been critical of her foreign policy statements concerning the Middle East for some time. On that issue – either for questions of principle or convenience – she has been long in bed with AIPAC. Three short examples:

1. – accepting AIPAC paid trips to Israel where one sees only one side of the conflict
2. – her sickening position in support of Israel during the Lebanon War
3. – lending her name to the campaign to go to war with Iran (an op ed in the Rocky September 16, 2007) in support of economic sanctions against Iran buying into the inaccurate and worn out charges that exaggerate the `Iranian threat’ all out of proportions. it triggered a campaign to get the state pension fund PERA to divest from companies doing business with Iran. (by the way, Leroy Moore, Carolyn Bninski, Ron Forthofer among others, could easily give her valuable advice on Middle East policy. She seems not to listen to such voices).

She is not alone in being more liberal on domestic issues and being awful on Middle East questions (sorry I cannot be kinder in my description – but Ken Gordon, Andrew Romanoff and Diana De Gette, Ken Salazar have essentially the same approach), aligning herself with Bush Administration policies. It seems to be rather common among the state’s liberal Dems. The thinking comes out of two streams:

– the positions of the Democratic Leadership Council
– pressure from Denver’s mainstream Jewish Community (AIPAC-ADL) which has influence in Democratic Party politics on the issue.

I have criticized her sharply for these and have heard (can’t confirm) she is aware of my comments.

I do believe that she has – to her surprise – taken some hits for her Middle East positions and is beginning to get a tad uncomfortable – but not yet enough to change her approach much. Allthough I can’t prove it, I think that part of the reason for Ken Gordon’s defeat in the Secretary of State race came from following more or less the same path, especially during the Lebanon War. Fitz Gerald is probably aware of this (Indeed Gordon and Fitz seem to have been a team – rolled out at key moments to genuflect to AIPAC policies) (By the way I don’t think AIPAC `all powerful’ – far from it – but in Colorado politics, on this issue, they have clout)

In any case, how to deal with her and that whole band of DLC brothers and sisters on the Middle East.?

I really don’t know. but here is what i suggest…

I recommend at this point getting her support for broad principles…that include
a. that it is in the US interest to resolve the israeli-palestinian conflict with a two state solution as soon as possible. Some recognition – there has been none – of the long suffering of the Palestinian people and criticism of the Israeli Occupation of the 1967 Territories is essential.
b. that the solution must include final status talks on jerusalem, settlements, refugees taking into consideration both israel’s security needs (within its 1967 borders) and palestinian aspirations for a state of their own
c. that no solution to this conflict will be achieved unless the US stops trying to split the Palestinian movement. the US – and Israel need to include Hamas in any serious discussions
d. that going to war with iran – which is what she is supporting – is a terrible mistake – there needs to be a negotiated settlement with the iranians.
e. that the US – not in a unilateral, but in a multi-lateral fashion – must take an active part in pressuring the sides to come to an agreement – and the US must be more evenhanded – it is not. it is completely one-sided as you know.

These are positions that would nudge the US to change it current policies; these are not particularly radical positions. I seriously doubt that Fitz will listen to you though – she sees her political future, especially right now, as tied to AIPAC positions and she is unlikely to budge from this approach.

Still I believe it worth the effort – very much so – that she begin hearing these kind of positions that sooner or later she’ll have to consider because they are fair, just and in the interests of this country.

Public pressure moved her to the left on iraq. I am convinced that she just didn’t have a change of heart `on her own’. It will take an even bigger movement to move her positions left on israel-palestine.

so…let’s build it.

This is pretty much what i would say to Joan F. and her `inner’ or `outer’ circles. If you would like to forward this to her that is fine with me. I send her my regards. I simply don’t believe that she doesn’t understand the issues discussed above. She’s a gutsy lady with a good political mind. Just lost her way abit on the Middle East. This isn’t rocket science -either politically or morally. She might also look at my last blog where I take her to task again for lending her name to the Iran-PERA divestment campaign.

Rob P.

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