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July 18, 2004
Flip-Flop By Proxy

The London Telegraph reports that John Kerry has sent his brother out to Israel to shore up the Jewish vote, which appears to be slipping from the grasp of Democrats this election cycle. His brother delivered a message of total support for Israel, including on the security fence, despite earlier assertions by both Kerrys that it amounted to nothing more than a barrier to peace:

John Kerry, the Democratic senator and presidential candidate, has sent his brother Cameron, a Jewish convert, on a delicate political mission to Israel to shore up Jewish support ahead of November's election.

The visit, which was due to end last night, has delighted Israeli government officials but has dismayed left-wing Israeli peace activists and Palestinian leaders, whom Mr Kerry studiously avoided as he voiced stridently pro-Israeli views on behalf of his brother. ...

He echoed the Israeli government's line on refusing to negotiate with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, and added: "There is no Palestinian partner at this time. It is not the place of the US to pressure Israel to reach an agreement with the Palestinians."

More controversially, he said the 425-mile security wall was "essential for the security of Israel" - an apparent reversal of remarks by his brother, earlier in the campaign, in which he described the wall as "a barrier to peace".

With events overtaking the besieged Palestinian strongman, quibbling over his status may well be a moot point anyway. Otherwise, one could easily recall that just seven years ago, Kerry hailed Arafat as a "statesman" in his book on global challenges that his campaign touted earlier to build a reputation for Kerry as a visionary. However, let there be no dispute about the reversal Kerry has executed on Israeli security; eight months ago he opposed the wall, and now that he needs to hold the Jewish vote, he has flopped to the other side.

The International Herald-Tribune also notes the policy shift in an article from two weeks ago:

He calls for more forceful action to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, fully backs Israel's construction of a barrier between Israel and the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and pledges to work to push for a new Palestinian political class to replace Yasser Arafat, who is called a "failed leader."

Kerry got off to a shaky start with some Jewish groups, including his reference last October to the barrier as a "barrier to peace." The structure, which is to stretch 680 kilometers, or 425 miles, is formed mostly of electronic fencing with razor wire but has some sections that are concrete.

The new paper calls it "a security fence" and says building it is "a legitimate right of self-defense" and "not a matter" to be taken up by the International Court of Justice, which has criticized the construction.

The Telegraph also notes that the Europeans are likely to be less than thrilled with Kerry's new position, perhaps taking some of the enthusiasm for Kerry's candidacy out of those foreign leaders who were so anxious to endorse him back in the late winter. They need not be worried too much; after all, Kerry's positions will evolve back towards theirs eventually. It seems that inconsistency is the only consistency of the Kerry campaign.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 18, 2004 10:21 AM

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