New J Street TV Ad Sets Sestak’s Record on Israel Straight

July 20, 2010

Ad Refutes Far-Right Attacks on Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Members of Congress

WASHINGTON – J Street today announced the launch of a new television advertisement in response to recent right-wing attacks on pro-Israel, pro-peace Members of Congress – in particular Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania.

“Congressman Joe Sestak, as a former admiral and national security expert, has been rock-solid in his support of Israel in Congress,” said J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami. “We refuse to sit idly by as Bill Kristol, Gary Bauer and others launch baseless attacks on his record and views. J Street’s new television advertisement, which will air in major media markets across Pennsylvania, highlights Rep. Sestak’s support for Israel and his commitment to ensuring its long-term peace and security through diplomacy.

“The far right continues to believe that they can drive a wedge in the Jewish community for their political gain by playing the Israel card. But as enthusiastic supporters of former President George Bush’s failed Middle East policy, the Iraq War, and Tea Party politicians like Sarah Palin, they will find that the vast majority of American Jews will reject not only the politicians they seek to help but the overall political split they are seeking to manufacture,” Ben-Ami added.

In response to distortions of Sestak’s record on Israel in an advertisement by an ad hoc group fronted by Kristol and Bauer among other right-wing activists, J Street’s 30-second ad highlights both Sestak’s military experience – including his collaborative work with the Israel Defense Forces-and his Congressional record to underscore his experience advancing Israeli and American security interests in the region. It calls on “the majority of Americans who care about Israel and America’s security” and who share Sestak’s support for “a two-state solution and American leadership to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” to tell Congressman Sestak to “keep fighting for peace and security in the Middle East.”

When asked about attacks on his record on Israel during an interview with the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent last week, Sestak said that he had been prepared to “lay my life on the line” for Israel when he was deployed to Middle East as a Vice Admiral in 2003, working directly with the Israel Defense Forces to improve Israel’s missile defenses. In Congress, Sestak voted to provide Israel with more than $10 billion in aid and joined multiple Congressional efforts in support of American leadership to secure Israel’s Jewish and democratic future through a two-state solution.

Polls consistently show overwhelming support among American Jews for assertive U.S. leadership to help resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. These numbers have remained virtually unchanged over the last 20 months despite changes in governments in both countries, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, the Goldstone Report, a diplomatic back-and-forth over Israeli settlement construction, and the recent public tensions over East Jerusalem housing – revealing how deeply ingrained this belief is among American Jews.

“The single most pro-Israel thing our political leaders can do is to stand up for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Ben-Ami. “When they do, they need to know that the American Jewish and larger pro-Israel community will stand solidly behind them.”