Israel and Harman in Tandem: From High Seas to Airwaves

When Israel attacked the Gaza aid flotilla, Congresswoman Jane
Harman was engaged in a parallel assault. Israel's government relied on
the efficacy of violence; Harman's campaign was counting on the power of
paid media. In both cases, the targets were advocates of human rights
for Palestinian people.

Brandishing guns and stun grenades, in international waters,
Israeli commandos rappelled from a helicopter and boarded from a
fast-moving boat onto the flotilla's largest ship. The mission was to
halt a Gaza-bound expedition carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid.

The mission of Harman's campaign strategists -- targeting her
progressive opponent with a slick TV commercial -- was to achieve a
related goal in California's 36th congressional district. Stopping the
Gaza flotilla and stopping the congressional campaign of Marcy Winograd
are similar agenda items.

Harman, a powerful member of the center-right Blue Dog Coalition,
is one of the Israeli government's most valued allies on Capitol Hill.
She's a standout -- even in a Congress teeming with fervent apologists
for Israel's relentless suppression of Palestinian rights.

In sharp contrast, her opponent Marcy Winograd -- an outspoken
advocate of human rights without regard to race, religion or ethnic
background -- has been unrelenting in her support for Palestinian

And so, less than two weeks before California's June 8 election,
Harman hit the airwaves with a slimy TV commercial aimed at her
challenger in the Democratic primary.

After claiming that Winograd "wants to kill the defense budget,
putting thousands more people out of work and exposing our nation to
attack," the commercial declared: "Congressman Henry Waxman says in
Marcy Winograd's vision, Israel would cease to exist."

Yes, liberal Congressman Waxman has distinguished himself by
supplying the most demagogic ammo in Harman's re-election arsenal. And
endorsements from several other members of the Progressive Caucus --
including John Conyers, Barney Frank, Jim McGovern and Lynn Woolsey --
have given Harman more cover.

The basic difference between Harman and Winograd on human rights is
clear in the aftermath of the killing of Gaza flotilla activists.

Harman stayed silent. Not a word about the massacre on her campaign

Winograd quickly released a statement. "I suspect the murders were
committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian
aid to Gaza," she said. "Ironically, the killings are bound to heighten
awareness about the brutal blockade and to increase pressure to end the
imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza."

And Winograd added: "Violence begets violence. Hatred begets
hatred. Enough, we must stop this, and adhere to the laws that have been
established by the international community. Working for peace and human
rights for all is the only way forward. As a Jewish woman of
conscience, I invite my opponent, Jane Harman, another Jewish woman, and
all of Congress to join me in denouncing this kind of barbaric
violence, demanding an end to the blockade and seeking an international
investigation into these murders. I recommit myself to working towards a
true, just and lasting peace."

Subsidized with a few billion dollars from the U.S. Treasury each
year, the Israeli government depends on support from high Washington
places. And that support, in turn, gets reinforced by the kind of
propaganda weaponry that Harman is now firing at Winograd. In the
process, the salvos amount to preemptive strikes, aiming to dissuade
others in politics who might be tempted to speak up for Palestinian

The so-called smart money is on Harman in next Tuesday's primary,
but the incumbent -- like the Israeli government -- has reason to worry.
Sometimes, moral revulsion can topple defenders of the indefensible.

In any event, no amount of advertising firepower can bring down the
high moral ground of Marcy Winograd's grassroots campaign for Congress.

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