|Howard Dean on Middle East Policy|
|Netlore Archive: Email flier accuses Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean of backing away from U.S. support for Israel by calling for an 'even-handed' approach to the Middle East conflict and labeling Hamas terrorists 'soldiers'|
Email example contributed by M. Carroll, 29 Nov. 2003:
VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE!!
I know I didn't like this guy for a reason.
HOWARD DEAN PROMISED THAT IF HE IS ELECTED PRESIDENT, THE UNITED STATES WILL NO LONGER SUPPORT ISRAEL THE WAY IT HAS IN THE PAST UNDER BOTH DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTS. IN HIS OWN WORDS HE WILL INSIST THAT THE UNITED STATES BE "EVEN HANDED" . THIS IS A TERM REGULARLY EMPLOYED BY ARAFAT AND HIS COTERIE OF ADHERENTS THAT MEANS TO BE ANTI-ISRAEL!!
GOVERNOR DEAN MADE THESE COMMENTS ON CNN ON SEPTEMBER 10,2003 ON THE WOLF BLITZER SHOW. HE HAS REPEATED THOSE WORDS SINCE.
IN THIS WERE NOT ENOUGH, GOVERNOR DEAN ON THAT SAME SHOW CHARACTERIZED THE HAMAS TERRORISTS AS "SOLDIERS". FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 9/11 WE HAVE SOMEONE RUNNING FOR THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES CALLING TERRORISTS SOLDIERS.
I URGE YOU THAT IF YOU HAVE ANY LOVE FOR AMERICA AND ISRAEL YOU SHOULD NOT AND CANNOT VOTE FOR HOWARD DEAN FOR THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT. THIS COMING ELECTION MAY VERY WELL BE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT IN DECADES.
PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO AS MANY OF YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AS YOU CAN.
Comments: While the opening statement of this message is patently false Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has nowhere promised that the U.S. will no longer support Israel if he's elected president he did make the other two statements attributed to him:
- The Washington Post reported on September 8, 2003 that Dean told supporters at a New Mexico campaign rally that "it's not our place to take sides" in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. He then said to a reporter: "...if we are going to bargain by being in the middle of the negotiations then we are going to have to take an even-handed role."
- On September 9, during an appearance on Wolf Blitzer's CNN show, Dean said: "I think no one likes to see violence of any kind. That's why the United States is involved in this. I will say, however, that there is a war going on in the Middle East, and members of Hamas are soldiers in that war, and, therefore, it seems to me, that they are going to be casualties if they are going to make war."
I will not attempt to divine what Governor Dean's full and final position on Middle East issues may be, but it behooves me to note that he has subsequently denied that the foregoing statements mean what his critics say they mean, let alone represent a break with longstanding U.S. policy.
Addressing the latter statement first, it bears pointing out that what Dean said to Wolf Blitzer notwithstanding his inexplicable and impolitic use of the word "soldiers" to describe terrorists was in direct response to a question about the propriety of Israel's policy of assassinating Hamas members. In context, Dean clearly defended that policy. "Of course, Hamas is a terrorist organization," he later clarified, "and it must be defeated and its members defeated for seeking to thwart peace and to kill innocent men, women and children. To suggest that I might feel otherwise is shameful and should be beneath the dignity of any campaign."
Regarding his advocacy of "an even-handed role" for the U.S., Dean later told CNN that what he was trying to say was that U.S. leaders must "strongly speak out against violence of any kind in the Middle East. That's what I mean by being even-handed." Continuing, he said: "I've since learned that that is a very sensitive word to use in certain communities, so perhaps I could have used a different euphemism. But the fact of the matter is, at the negotiating table, we have to have the trust of both sides."
A Statement of Principles on the Dean for America Website seems to bear out the candidate's self-defense, affirming that he is "committed to achieving a negotiated, comprehensive, and just peace" in the Middle East and that the U.S. "will maintain its historic special relationship with the state of Israel, providing a guarantee of its long-term defense and security."
Sources and further reading:
Lieberman Accuses Dean Over Israel
Associated Press, 10 September 2003
Transcript: Howard Dean/Wolf Blitzer Interview
CNN, 10 September 2003
Dean Defends Middle East Remarks
CNN, 10 September 2003
Gov. Dean Regrets Other Candidates' 'Gotcha Politics' on Middle East Policy
Dean for America press release, 12 September 2003
Last updated: 12/09/03