Waxman Attacks Winograd on Israel; Ignites Political Firestorm
(Winograd Responds later, in this article)
by Linda Milazzo
LA Progressive: 11 January 2010
At the behest of his congressional ally, Jane Harman (CA-36), Democratic
Congressman Henry Waxman (CA-30) has launched a mean-spirited ideological
assault on Harman's Democratic primary challenger, Marcy Winograd, that is
garnering disfavor for Waxman and Harman amongst Democratic voters.
In a move characterized by one Harman constituent as desperate, Waxman sent
the following letter to Harman's Jewish supporters, attacking and misquoting
Winograd's position on the issue of Israel/Palestine. Here is the text of
Waxman's letter, distributed on his letterhead:
FROM THE DESK OF CONGRESSMAN HENRY A. WAXMAN
Recently, I came across an astounding speech by Marcy Winograd, who is
running against our friend Jane Harman in her primary re-election to
Congress. Ms. Winograd's views on Israel I find repugnant in the extreme.
And that is why I wanted to write you.
What has prompted my urgent concern is a speech Ms. Winograd gave,
entitled, "Call For One State," at the All Saints Church in Pasadena last
year. The complete text is attached, but in it she says:
- "I think it is too late for a two-state solution. Israel has made it all
but impossible for two states to exist."
- "Not only do I think a two-state solution is unrealistic, but also
- "As a citizen of the United States, I do not want my tax dollars to
support institutionalized racism. As a Jew, I do not want my name associated
with occupation or extermination."
- "Let us declare a one-state solution."
To me, the notion that a Member of Congress could hold these views is
alarming. Ms. Winograd is far, far outside the bipartisan mainstream of
views that has long insisted that US policy be based upon rock-solid support
for our only democratic ally in the Middle East.
In Marcy Winograd's foreign policy, Israel would cease to exist. In Marcy
Winograd's vision, Jews would be at the mercy of those who do not respect
democracy or human rights. These are not trivial issues; they cannot be
ignored or overlooked. Jane's victory will represent a clear repudiation of
In addition to Jane Harman's expertise and leadership on national
security, intelligence and foreign policy, she is my ally on the Energy and
Commerce Committee and our fights for health care reform, energy
independence and curbing global warming. Jane's staunch leadership and
commitment to Israel are internationally recognized.
I ask you to join me in showing maximum political support for Jane. I have
already done so through my federal campaign and PAC.
Henry A. Waxman
Not printed at taxpayer expense
Paid for by Friends of Jane Harman
I contacted Waxman's office to ask who the intended recipients of the
letters were, who supplied the recipient list, and why the letter wasn't
dated. The Congressman's representative, David Sadkin, responded with the
Rep. Waxman has endorsed Jane Harman for her re-election, and wrote the
letter of support for use in her campaign. The letter was prompted by a
speech given by Ms. Winograd entitled "A Call for One State." A copy of that
speech is attached.
The letter was originally distributed in November 2009, though Mr. Waxman
chose to leave it undated so that the Harman campaign would have the option
to use it again at a later date.
The letter was sent both electronically and by mail, and was sent
primarily to friends and supporters in the Jewish community. The recipient
list was developed by the Harman campaign.
Unlike the substantial Jewish population in Waxman's affluent 30th
Congressional District whom he relies on for financial support, the Jewish
population in Harman's 36th Congressional District is significantly smaller.
Issues concerning Israel don't regularly affect the day to day lives of the
majority of its residents who care mostly about jobs, healthcare and
housing. 18.3% of the under 65 population of the 36th CD have no health
insurance. Over 7,500 home foreclosures took place in 2009 and another
25,000 foreclosures are anticipated over the next four years.
Though Harman stresses Israel as more relevant to her reelection, Winograd
bases her election on a platform of policies on issues most relevant to her
constituents, which she outlines on her website.
That Waxman and Harman stress Harman's devotion to Israel as the primary
catalyst for Harman's reelection is illuminating, and underscores to what
extent their legislative focus is defined more by the welfare of Israel and
Israelis and less by the welfare of America and Americans.
One Jewish resident of the 36th, Frances W. Wells, was so incensed by
Israel-based assault on Winograd, that she confronted him in person at his
recent Women's Club speaking engagement in Pacific Palisades.
In that exchange, Wells, who is in her 90s, and who vividly recalls the era
of World War II and the pivotal events in the formation of Israel, asked
Waxman, a self-described progressive, why he supported blue-dog conservative
Harman over Winograd with whom he should share more common ground. Here's
their exchange summed up by Wells:
Wells: You're supporting Jane Harman instead of Marcy Winograd?
Waxman: Jane's on important committees.
Wells: Yes, but she never votes the way I want her to.
Waxman: Marcy's for a one-state solution for Israel.
Waxman then walked away, leaving Wells even further incensed.
Another resident of the 36th, Lillian Laskin, an affiliated Jew [belonging
to a synagogue] who lives in the community of Mar Vista, was similarly
angered by the Waxman/Harman letter. In an interview Laskin told me, "Harman
had Waxman send this letter because she's desperate Winograd will give her a
strong challenge." Laskin went on to say, "I'm a constituent in the 36th and
Israel is a separate issue that shouldn't be the driving factor in
determining our leadership in the district. We need leadership that focuses
on the needs of the people - like jobs."
With his hyperbolic letter, Henry Waxman has stepped into a firestorm of
controversy that includes criticism from Harman's constituents, his own
constituents, the blogosphere, and prominent members of the Jewish
community. Although Waxman doesn't face a strong challenge this November,
many of his constituents believe this ideologically based letter goes way
too far; dwelling too much on Israel and too little on America.
Prominent Jewish writer, Richard Silverstein, makes an eloquent case against
Waxman's Israel-baiting of Winograd in this powerful piece today.
Yesterday a post on Daily Kos by TomP, titled Winograd Nails Henry Waxman
and Jane Harman ignited a firestorm of comments against Waxman and Harman.
The ire over this letter has been palpable.
To top it off, Marcy Winograd, Harman's popular progressive opponent - not
one to mince words or shrink from debate - quickly fired back her own open
letter in response to Waxman/Harman:
Dear Congressman Waxman:
I write this as an open letter in response to a letter you sent
contributors, urging them to join you in financing Jane Harman's re-election
to Congress. More importantly, I write this as an open letter because I
believe the establishment of world peace merits an international
Both of us recognize the importance of strengthening our country's role as
a global partner in world affairs.
Hence, it is with great disappointment that I received your letter urging
readers to support my opponent Jane Harman, a woman recently under an FBI
investigation for allegedly conspiring with members of the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee to use her influence in Congress to subvert due
On the domestic front, you have advocated for the protection of
constitutional rights. It is therefore disconcerting to learn that you would
lend your name and financial support to a woman who lobbied the New York
Times to suppress reports of the Bush administration's crimes involving
illegal wiretapping and who ultimately became the chief Democratic Party
defender of those unconstitutional methods.
This is not the definition of a patriot.
Like you, I am intimately aware of our Jewish history. On my mother's
side, my great-grandparents escaped the Russian Pogroms to make a better
life for themselves in Europe. On my father's side, my great-grandparents
were killed in the Jewish Holocaust of Nazi Germany. Because of our
collective experience with persecution, it behooves us to stand in
opposition to persecution anywhere and everywhere, rather than sanctify
reductionist state policies that cast all Jews as victims who can only
thrive in a segregated society. Furthermore, we must stand in explicit
opposition to the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians; the brutal
blockade of Gaza, an act of war by international standards, denying children
clean water, food, and medicine.
We are better than that.
In your letter, you reference my speech in support of a one state
solution, one that would recognize both Israelis and Palestinians as equals
in a land of great historical significance to both. Security for Jews and
Palestinians will be increased, not decreased, by efforts to establish a
state where all are welcome and treated equally, but such a day may be far
down the road given the existing enmity and lack of accountability in U.S.
foreign policy regarding ever-expanding Israeli settlements. To stop the
suffering of the Palestinian people and to end the rocket attacks on
Israelis near the border, I am ready and willing to accept a negotiated
peace agreement that adheres to principles of justice and recognizes a
two-state solution based on withdrawal of illegal settlements to the 1967
borders or a mutually-agreed exchange of territory.
Nowhere in my speech do I advocate destruction or violence. Those are your
In your letter, you include what you term an "alarming' quote of mine -
"As a Jew, I do not want my name associated with occupation or
extermination." Frankly, I am mystified as to why you would find my words
objectionable. Surely, you are not saying the converse is true - that you
want Jewish people associated with occupation and extermination. Such a
legacy would dishonor our people.
As Jews, we have so much to be proud of - our participation in the Civil
Rights Movement, our leadership in the anti-war movements, our role in the
construction of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To uncritically
support profoundly discriminatory policies undermines our proud past and
imperils the sanctity of our international position on human rights.
Please reconsider lending your name and your status to a cause not worthy
of your stature.
In your letter, you praise Harman's "leadership on national security" yet
fail to mention Harman lobbied for the Iraq war while shirking her oversight
responsibility on the Intelligence Committee, ignoring warnings in the
National Intelligence Estimate that discounted fictitious accounts of
weapons of mass destruction. You also failed to mention that it was Harman
who was briefed on the Bush administration's use of torture, only to shirk
her responsibility to denounce torture. Such a lack of oversight further
endangered our troops.
This is not the definition of a patriot.
You call Harman an ally on health care, though she voted against your own
much-needed amendment to fast-track exorbitantly-priced drugs for patients
suffering with breast cancer, brain tumors, AIDS or the dreaded Parkinson's,
which confined my father to a wheelchair the last decade of his life. Not
only does Harman's opposition to your amendment cost patients their lives -
but also taxpayers billions of dollars, for Medicaid and Medicare, both
federal programs, subsidize the profits of large drug companies with
monopolies on clinical trial data funded by our government.
Please also note that Harman's position on health care is revealed in her
support for a bankruptcy bill that hurts those who are forced to declare
medical bankruptcy and then can't find employment or obtain credit.
You praise Harman for her position on energy and the environment, never
acknowledging that Harman's support of perpetual war leaves the worst carbon
foot print of all - a scorched earth.
Time and again my opponent has proven to be a virtual lobbyist for large
corporations, big banks, and war profiteers, while voting against mortgage
relief for constituents facing foreclosure. How tragic when so many
California families are struggling to make ends meet. We, the People,
deserve real representation in a congress too often beholden to large
corporations. That is why I am running for Congress - to give the people a
voice in Washington.
On Capitol Hill, I hope you and I develop a productive working
relationship because we share an interest in reform and good governance,
both in the domestic and foreign policy arenas.
To begin that effort, I ask you to courageously join me in encouraging
engagement and dialogue on conflict-resolution and world peace, and to
refrain from rubber-stamping the candidacy of someone who has deeply
betrayed American values.
Thank you for your time, consideration, and public service.
36th Congressional District Candidate
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
What has emerged from Waxman's strong letter and Winograd's equally strong
response is the further energizing of the dialogue amongst Democratic voters
on the issues of Israel, Palestine and United States' Middle East policy,
which has long been slanted toward Israel. Due in large part to the flow of
information on the internet, the American electorate's once blind acceptance
of Israel as the perennial victim of Palestinian aggression has turned to a
more factual understanding of Middle East politics and a day to day
awareness of the realities on the ground. Because of access to international
news services, countless Americans no longer view the world through the
distorted lens of American corporations whose biased support for Israel had
engineered and influenced public opinion for years.
a.. Lydia Howell says:
January 11, 2010 at 10:27 am
BAVO! to LA Progressive for publishing this insightful essay and cleaerly
putting forth the differnces between these 2 candiates. It's refreshing to
see a clear, no-excuses exposure of Israel's human rights abuses and how US
elected representatives support such abuses. Marcy Winograd exeplifies what
a true progresive positon is-one that OPPOSES the kind of war-making
policies that Israel and the US perpetrate in the MIddle East. Thank you to
LA Proigressive for having ghe guts to publish Linda Milazzo's sharp
Reply to this comment »
Jeff Blankfort says:
January 11, 2010 at 11:20 am
As a former Angeleno I am happily surprised to see that a publication exists
such as the LA Progressive that has the courage to "tell it like it is" when
it comes to the power and influence of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs
Committee) over Congress and to let its readers see what lies behind the
mask that Rep. Henry Waxman presents to his non-Jewish constituents and to
the general public.
I echo what Lydia Howell has to say about Marcy Winograd who seems to have
the kind of integrity that is as currently hard to find in the US Congress
as the proverbial needle in a haystack and which is obviously lacking in
both Waxman and her opponent, Jane Harman.
Reply to this comment »
a.. Brenda Hicks says:
b.. January 11, 2010 at 11:11 am
For years, I've had a lot of respect for Henry Waxman (whom I have heard
called "The Mustache of Justice"). With his unfair and biased attack on
progressive Marcy Winograd, Waxman has just lost a lot of the respect and
trust I had in him. How disappointing. Although I am not in Winograd's
district, I've been aware of her campaign through appearances on numerous
talk radio shows. I would vote for her in a nano-second. Unfortunately, with
Waxman's support of Harman and Harman's access to seemingly unlimited funds,
I'm afraid Winograd could go down in flames.
Thankfully, the LA Progressive has set the record straight. I'm hoping
enough voters read the straight scoop and won't let Waxman's lies influence
their decisions at the polls.
Reply to this comment »
c.. Jan Bauman says:
d.. January 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm
It is likely not well known but Henry Waxman has been known to threaten
any fellow Democrats who defy the Lobby. This threat includes supporting any
competition that seeks to take away the member's seat in the primary
Henry Waxman is just another member of Congress who puts Israel First.
Thanks to the Progressive for telling the truth about Henry Waxman.
Reply to this comment »