Every so often, something happens in politics which totally mystifies. Today brings news that Doug Pike, Democratic candidate for Congress in PA’s 6th District, and a J Street endorsee, has rejected the group’s support and returned the $6,000 it gave him. Why? Do you want the real reason or the made up one (from Pike). His explanation involves a claim he didn’t understand J Street’s real positions on Israel and how much they differed from his own.
What positions? Well, take settlements and building in East Jerusalem. He didn’t know J Street, his own Democratic president, and the rest of the world outside Israeli right wing circles opposed such expansionism. Pike appears to believe Bibi Netanyahu should be able to plop down massive amounts of new homes for Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox and their 12-children households right smack dab in the middle of historically Palestinian neighborhoods:
Pike said, he was “troubled” by J Street’s recent stance that Israel halt construction in eastern Jerusalem…
The endorsement was an impediment to my being able to explain my convictions about Israel’s security.
You see, if you accept funds from J Street you can’t possibly be in favor of Israel’s security, can you? Well, sure you can be in favor of Israel’s security, as the scores of other Congressional candidates are who accept such funds. But it IS an impediment in defending yourself to far right-wing Aipac moneybags supporters who’ve undoubtedly importuned Pike to abandon J Street. I urge those who track Aipac-inspired political donations to keep tabs on how much primary dough Pike gets from such PACs. It will at least match $6,000, but probably go far higher.
This statement from Pike is boilerplate Aipac and urges the U.S. to refrain from exerting any pressure on Israel to negotiate in good faith or demanding any sacrifices or compromises whatsoever:
“The United States should encourage a peace agreement…but ultimately, this must come from negotiations between the two sides,” Pike wrote in a column addressing his decision. “I agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu: Negotiations should begin as soon as possible without preconditions.”
I am chagrined to report that Douglas Pike is the son of Otis Pike, who served a Westchester, N.Y. district that abutted my home for nine terms. He had a distinguished record as an environmentalist and I knew him as a politician with a conscience and principles. Apparently, the move to Pennsylvania or something else has caused his son to abandon whatever values his father may’ve tried to teach him. It’s sad.
I’m glad to report that J Street’s supporters responded by raising $30,000 in new money in response to Pike’s reversal. Let that be a lesson to those who are mesmerized by the siren song of Aipac dough.
But I’m pleased to report that there is an even better Democratic candidate running in his district: Dr. Manan Trivedi. Trivedi is an Indian-American medical doctor, Iraq war veteran and Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy. And he’s going to his first seder this week. So somehow I doubt Trivesi is going to pose much danger to Israel’s interests if elected to the House. Not that this will stop all Aipac’s PAC-related donors from funding lots of attacks against the candidate’s pro-Israel bona fides.
Pike has a $1.2-million campaign war chest. Trivedi, only $120,000. I’ve just donated to his campaign and I urge you to do so. Let’s show profiles in cowardice like Pike and all those Aipac-ers who will flock to his campaign that there is a reward for those in the U.S. Congress who take a principled, pragmatic position regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace. I’d also urge J Street to endorse Dr. Trivedi. It would be great to have progressive American Jews support an Indian-American Congressional candidate. That would be one of the finest examples of American ethnic democratic politics at work.
The primary winner earns the right to knock Republican loyalist Jim Gerlach out of Congress for good: “soon and in our day.”