Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Republican Jewish Coalition Responds to Sestak’s ‘100 percent AIPAC’ Claim

Joe Sestak has spent the past week campaigning on the claim that he earned a “100 percent pro-Israel voting record” from Israel-lobby AIPAC. But AIPAC’s Josh Block has said it “couldn’t be true” because  ”we don’t rate or endorse candidates.”

So why has Sestak gone out on a limb to claim a rating he could never have received? Sestak has struggled for months with accusations from groups like the Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition for a record on Israel characterized as waffling or weak, at best.

“It’s a competitive race,” explained Matt Brooks of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Brooks told Battle ‘10 that there are “a lot of vulnerabilities with the various positions and actions Joe Sestak has taken.”

“In his time in Congress he has voted and acted in a way that’s inconsistent with the pro-Israel community and the mainstream Jewish community,” Brooks told Battle ‘10.

Brooks pushed back on the notion that Sestak’s service in the Navy represents proof of a concern and defense of Israel. ”There’s never been an instance where the U.S. Navy has been called upon to defend Israel,” said Brooks. “The notion that the U.S. Navy is there to defend Israel goes against their doctrine of being their own protector and their own defender.”

Sestak has “keynoted for CAIR,” a group named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism investigation by the federal government, Brooks said, and when taken in the context of signing the “Gaza 54” letter, Sestak’s record has been “arguably an extraordinarily poor” one.

The recent efforts by the Sestak campaign to court the support of the pro-Israel Jewish lobby by claiming a non-existent AIPAC rating, suggested Brooks, could come down to raw political calculus.

“In order for Sestak to win he’s got to do extremely well in Philadelphia, and there’s a lot of highly concentrated Jewish votes there,” explained Brooks. “He’s going to need strong Jewish support, but quite frankly he hasn’t earned it and doesn’t deserve it.”

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