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Edwards Veers Hard Right, Supports Escalating Middle East Conflicts

by Palestine Forever Thursday, Sep. 20, 2007 at 6:49 PM

“As to the American people, this is a difficult question. The vast majority of people are concerned about what is going on in Iraq. This will make the American people reticent toward going for Iran. But I think the American people are smart if they are told the truth, and if they trust their president. So Americans can be educated to come along with what needs to be done with Iran.” - John Edwards “Educated” Or Brainwashed?

Edwards Veers Hard R...
john-edwards.jpg, image/jpeg, 200x150

Edwards Veers Hard Right, Supports Escalating Middle East Conflicts


“This week, during a speech at the Herzliya Conference, a major international gathering dedicated to Israeli security and diplomatic issues, Edwards stuck to his hawkish positions on Iran.”—The Jewish Daily/Forward

John Edwards promised to be a progressive candidate, but he now appears to be a devotee of the Democratic Leadership Council who is obviously under the heady ether of the Israel Lobby.

In a shocking development, John Edwards cast aside his progressive veneer and veered to the hard right to support the escalation of Bush’s wars in the Middle East to engulf Iran.

During a lamentable speech he made to an audience assembled in Herzilya, a city named for the founder of Zionism that is located a mere 20 miles from Tel Aviv, Edwards sanctioned a U.S. war against Iran, denied the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) and bashed the Palestinian people.

According to a report on the website, John Edwards proclaimed his support for the neoconservative agenda of the Israel Lobby, and he even echoed the bellicose rhetoric of George Bush vis-à-vis Iran — “Hinting to possible military action.” Edwards has now become the official candidate of the Israel Lobby for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In his speech before the Herzilya Conference, John Edwards echoed the neoconservative ideology of George W. Bush, who is threatening to bomb Iran. In Israel, Edwards is now regarded as a strong supporter for American military intervention in Iran and the de facto expansion of the war in Iraq that would then engulf Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan in a flaming arc of war, terrorism and ultra-violence.

In taking this position, Edwards is now in direct conflict with the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate, where both Senator Joe Biden and Majority Leader Harry Reid have promised to set in motion a constitutional crisis if Bush orders U.S. forces to expand the Iraq war into Iran. Edwards’ position on Iran even places him to the right of Bush’s newly installed Secretary of Defense, William Gates, who warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the expansion of the Iraq war into Iran would have “devastating consequences,” for American diplomacy.

Additionally, Edwards criticized Syria for not doing enough to prove they are serious about negotiating the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for their help in fostering peace between Israel and the Palestinians and stabilizing the increasingly turbulent situation inside Iraq. Edwards’ position on Syria places him to the right of the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton ISG that recommended negotiations with Syria for the resolution of both the war in Iraq and a peace settlement with Israel.

To top those blunders, Edwards then criticized the Palestinians for democratically electing the Hamas government.

In the same disastrous speech, Edwards refrained from criticizing Israel for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars of the Palestinians’ funds and creating chaos among the already deeply repressed population. Israel’s deliberate withholding of the Palestinians’ funds exacerbated the already dreadful conditions in the Occupied Territories and the Gaza Strip where the United Nations describes Israel’s harsh repression of the Palestinian people as one of the most egregious violations of human rights in the world today.

At no time in his entire career has John Edwards ever publicly expressed any concern for Israel’s refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Neither has Edwards criticized Israel for its refusal to acknowledge the existence of her powerful nuclear arsenal that is known to contain over 200 armed nuclear warheads, making her either the third or fourth most powerful nation on earth.

While John Edwards has capably expressed his support for deconstructing the U.S. war in Iraq, he leaves the impression that he is now ready, willing and able to launch a U.S. attack against Iran.

In a statement that tacitly condoned Israel’s repressive policies: targeted assassinations, house demolitions, military attacks on civilian targets, detentions of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, and the persistent violation of the human rights of the Palestinians, Edwards proclaimed his allegiance to the agenda designed by the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). In their now well-known paper, two highly distinguished American academics, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, exposed AIPAC as the political core of the Israel Lobby. While John Edwards has capably expressed his support for the deconstruction of the premiere project of the Israel Lobby — the U.S. war in Iraq — he leaves the impression that he is now ready, willing and able to launch their next foolish enterprise: a U.S. attack against Iran.

The fact that Edwards condones the humiliating violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people places him far to the right of former President Jimmy Carter, whose latest book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid is now soaring at the top of the bestseller lists in America. All of this inconsistency with Edwards’ pledge to uphold human rights is deeply disappointing. Edwards’s neoconservative attitudes will be a major disappointment to his erstwhile supporters in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Edwards promised to be a progressive candidate, but he now appears to be a devotee of the Democratic Leadership Council who is obviously under the heady ether of the Israel Lobby.

Senators Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. and Hillary Rodham Clinton declined to address the Herzliya Conference, but Edwards was joined by three Republicans: Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain in addressing the conference of right-wing Israelis by satellite.

Michael Carmichael is a historian and author based in Oxford, England, UK. He is the founder and chief executive officer of This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.


· Edwards: Iran Threat Serious

· The Israel Lobby

· Homage to Herzliya / The Lobby wants war with Iran

· Bush sanctions force against Iranian agents

· The hidden cost of free congressional trips to Israel

· Remarks of John Edwards to the 7th Herzliya Conference


John Edwards remarks at Herzliya Conference 2007

Senator John Edwards, Head, One America Committee; Candidate for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination – via satellite

Monday, January 22nd 2007 – via satellite, 20:00 Dinner Session

Shula Bahat, Associate Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, introducing Edwards: The AJC is a global, international American Jewish organization working all over the world. We are a nonpartisan NGO and we do not endorse any candidate. It is important for you to know that. Earlier today there were some questions about the erosion of Jewish support. My viewpoint is that America is different. This does not mean that it will remain this way. Israel enjoys bipartisan support, and the Jewish organizations are here to ensure that this support continues.

The issue at hand today is the Islamic totalitarianism as reflected by Iran. I do believe that there is a grassroots affinity toward Israel based on a shared sense of the threats articulated after 9/11. Getting involved in the body politic of the United States is common activity of all Americans, not just Jews. Jews are not different in that regard, but are respected for their representation in all parties in the US.

I am proud to present to you Senator John Edwards.

Senator John Edwards:

It’s a great privilege for me to be able to participate in this conference which has played an important role in bringing people together from all walks of life. The Herzliya Conference is a great forum for what is happening in Israel.

I am aware that it was at this conference that PM Ariel Sharon gave his courageous speech outlining his disengagement. He helped Israel face some of its major challenges.

Throughout his career and public service Sharon has shown courage, including his historic decision to evacuate Gaza. More than anyone else, Sharon has, in my judgment, believed that a strong Israel is a safe Israel and that Israel needs to defend itself against security threats.

We also need to remember the three soldiers and their families for whom it is well past time for their return home. They are a symbol of the extraordinary challenges facing Israel and Middle East. One source of strength is the bond between Israel and the United States, which is a bond that will never be broken. For more than half a century both countries have benefited from this alliance. We share common values such as freedom and democracy. I was in Israel in 2001 and I’ll never forget just as I was ending my visit, a Hamas suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blew up the Sbarro pizzeria. It made an impact on me to see the extraordinary sacrifice made by the Israeli people everyday. They continue to make sacrifices to ensure your security and achieve peace. I saw firsthand the threats you face every day. I feel that I understand on a very personal level those threats. The challenges in your own backyard – rise of Islamic radicalism, use of terrorism, and the spread of nuclear technology and weapons of mass destruction – represent an unprecedented threat to the world and Israel.

At the top of these threats is Iran. Iran threatens the security of Israel and the entire world. Let me be clear: Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. For years, the US hasn’t done enough to deal with what I have seen as a threat from Iran. As my country stayed on the sidelines, these problems got worse. To a large extent, the US abdicated its responsibility to the Europeans. This was a mistake. The Iranian president’s statements such as his description of the Holocaust as a myth and his goals to wipe Israel off the map indicate that Iran is serious about its threats.

Once Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel’s neighborhood much more volatile.

Iran must know that the world won’t back down. The recent UN resolution ordering Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium was not enough. We need meaningful political and economic sanctions. We have muddled along for far too long. To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table, Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table.

The war in Lebanon had Iranian fingerprints all over it. I was in Israel in June, and I took a helicopter trip over the Lebanese border. I saw the Hezbollah rockets, and the havoc wreaked by the extremism on Israel’s border. Hezbollah is an instrument of the Iranian government, and Iranian rockets allowed Hezbollah to attack and wage war against Israel.

I cannot talk about the war last summer without referring to the Syrian role in destabilizing area. Syria needs to be held accountable. Syria has recently called for peace talks with Israel. Talk is cheap. Syria needs to go long way to prove it is ready for peace. It can start by not harboring terrorists and ending its nefarious relationship with Iran.

While Iran is the greatest threat now, but just as alarming is the one on your doorstep. Hamas, with Iranian support, doesn’t make any mistake of its intentions to wipe out Israel, and repeatedly makes calls to raise the banner of Allah over all of Israel. Israel made many concessions. Many settlers gave up there land in order to advance peace.

Israel can take more steps to advance peace like bolstering Abbas against Hamas. While Israel is willing to go back to negotiating table, little has been seen on the Palestinian side. We instead have seen chaos and violence on the street, and no revocation of violence against Israel.

Outside assistance to Palestinian governance is not an entitlement. The US and Europe need to ensure that money going to the Palestinians does not go to lining the pockets of terrorists. For peace, Israel needs a partner.

Absent this partnership, Israel not only has the right to defend itself, it has an obligation to defend itself. This means continuing to ensure Israel’s military strength, diplomatically and economically. The hurdles are clear.

For too long, the current US administration’s commitment to this issue has been halfhearted. Now, on the backdrop of Iraq, they have tried to bring the two sides together. This is especially significant since they have squandered America’s moral authority in the Middle East and around the world.

We should be finding ways to upgrade Israel’s relationship with NATO. This could even some day mean membership. NATO’s mission now goes far beyond just Europe. Therefore, it is only natural that NATO seeks to include Israel.

Your challenges are our challenges. Your future is our future. The US will continue to stand by you. God bless you.

Question and Answer:

Cheryl Fishbein from NY: When you do learning of Jewish texts, you give credit to ideas of scholars who have helped you ask questions, I would like to give credit to my friends and colleagues who have had this same overriding question of shared a existential threat: Would you be prepared, if diplomacy failed, to take further action against Iran? I think there is cynicism about the ability of diplomacy to work in this situation. Secondly, you as grassroots person, who has an understanding of the American people, is there understanding of this threat across US?

A: My analysis of Iran is if you start with the President of Iran coming to the UN in New York denouncing America and his extraordinary and nasty statements about the Holocaust and goal of wiping Israel off map, married with his attempts to obtain nuclear weapons over a long period of time, they are buying time. They are the foremost state sponsors of terrorism. If they have nuclear weapons, other states in the area will want them, and this is unacceptable.

As to what to do, we should not take anything off the table. More serious sanctions need to be undertaken, which cannot happen unless Russia and China are seriously on board, which has not happened up until now. I would not want to say in advance what we would do, and what I would do as president, but there are other steps that need to be taken. Fore example, we need to support direct engagement with Iranians, we need to be tough. But I think it is a mistake strategically to avoid engagement with Iran.

As to the American people, this is a difficult question. The vast majority of people are concerned about what is going on in Iraq. This will make the American people reticent toward going for Iran. But I think the American people are smart if they are told the truth, and if they trust their president. So Americans can be educated to come along with what needs to be done with Iran.

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