Bill Boyarsky
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Harman, Winograd and Israel

The Israeli attack on the flotilla carrying aid to Gaza has become an issue in the Los Angeles County coastal district congressional contest between Democratic Rep. Jane Harman and her more liberal challenger, Marcy Winograd.

It is part of the disagreement between these two Jewish women over the future of Israel itself. Harman is a staunch supporter of Israel as a Jewish state. Winograd, on the other hand, says she envisions what is now Israel as “a secular democratic state where Jews, Palestinians, all citizens would enjoy equal rights.” She said she would support side-by-side Jewish and Palestinian states although she also said “Personally, I think it is too late for a two-state solution… “. Harman supporter Rep. Henry Waxman said, “In Marcy Winograd’s vision, Israel would cease to exist,“

Israel’s future is a huge issue in the Jewish community. Jews constitute a comparatively small number of voters in the 36th Congressional District, which extends from West Los Angeles south through the beach cities and inland to Torrance. But they can be counted on to show up at the polls on election day, especially if Israel is an issue.

I saw how important the issue was to the Harman campaign when I paraphrased Winograd’s position in LA Observed, saying she supported a two- state plan. I got seven e-mails, the first at 7:01 a.m. the last at 10:51 a.m., from Harvey Englander, Harman’s campaign consultant, protesting that my journalistic shorthand didn’t fully explain the Winograd position.

Their differences came out again after nine men were killed when Israeli commandoes boarded the ships in the flotilla.

Winograd quickly issued a statement saying “I suspect the murders were committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. 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.”

Harman said, “I join President Obama in expressing my deep sorrow at the loss of life, and hope for a speedy recovery for the wounded flotilla members and Israeli soldiers. However, until the facts of this complex and tragic episode are fully investigated and understood, it is premature to assess blame or call anyone a murderer. The focus now must be on preventing events from escalating and leading to more violence or scuttling the peace process. It is my hope that Israel will promptly permit any humanitarian supplies contained on the six vessels to travel from the port of Ashdod to the people of Gaza.”

When another ship tries to make it to Gaza, look for this dispute to continue--and to resonate among Jewish voters.


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