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April 4, 2010

Brian Baird: “Wrong-Headed” on Gaza

Listed in: Israel, NJDC News, Opinions

Originally Published in Politico’s Arena

By David A. Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council

As the national voice of Jewish Democrats, we at the National Jewish Democratic Council never take great joy in criticizing a fellow Democrat for taking wrong-headed positions or stances that don’t comport with the facts. But based on what Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) has said upon returning from his record third trip to Hamas-controlled Gaza (especially regarding the need for a unilateral American “Berlin Airlift” to assist Gaza), I feel compelled to do just that -to point out that his read on too much of the reality surrounding Gaza is just plain wrong.

It’s true that there is grinding poverty within Gaza’s boundaries, and there is clearly profound sadness and despair - and that is deeply unfortunate. But the reality is that Gaza is ruled by a government that is recognized in the U.S. and elsewhere as a terrorist organization, and the fact is that Israel has gone to extraordinary lengths to get fuel, food and other humanitarian supplies into Gaza, even at great danger to Israelis in the process. If Washington state was bordered by a group that was recognized internationally as a terrorist organization - a group that occasionally lobbed dozens of rockets into Olympia, Wash. - I find it hard to believe that Rep. Baird would feel quite the same way. The truth is that there are tremendous security dangers to any country that shares a border with Gaza.

There is a common thread tying together one of the greatest current threats to the Palestinian people, the Israeli people and Egyptians as well - and that’s the terrorist Hamas government that rules over Gaza right now. It’s responsible for what is happening within Gaza, and it is a grave and ongoing threat to regional stability. It’s unfortunate that Rep. Baird isn’t able to lay that responsibility at the right doorstep.