‘There’s A Double Standard When It Comes To Israel’: An interview with GOP senatorial candidate Jay TownsendWednesday, July 21st, 2010
The November midterm elections may well alter the political face of this country. Opponents of Obama administration policies have galvanized their forces and are eager to make their voices heard to the American electorate.
One of those people is Jay Townsend, a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York who will be seeking to unseat incumbent Sen. Charles Schumer.
The Jewish Press: You started your career as a political consultant. What made you decide to throw your own hat into the ring?
I was very inspired last January when the people of Massachusetts elected Scott Brown to fill the Senate seat that had long been held by Ted Kennedy, a liberal Democrat. Massachusetts voters were outraged by the prospect of the health-care reform bill that was looming in the Senate and wanted a candidate who vowed to vote against it.
I called GOP party leaders in New York and asked if we had anyone who could or would challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer – a fervent supporter of the health-care reform legislation and the Obama agenda. The president’s plans for “change” in America scare me and many others to death and I decided to become a candidate.
Concerning the Obama administration’s position on the burgeoning Iranian nuclear threat, do you think the latest round of economic sanctions will prove fruitful and what path do you believe the U.S. should take on this?
I don’t think that we’re serious about enforcing these sanctions. We must come to the realization that we have enemies in the world and we have to stop pretending we can negotiate with these enemies. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad only understands brute strength. Clearly, the nuclear threat emanating from Iran is indeed imminent. The imposition of sanctions on Iran will only prove to be another feckless attempt at stopping the nuclear threat unless we convince other countries to participate fully.
We should try and enlist the help of the European Union, Japan and state owned banks and we must make the sanctions systematic. Basically, my argument with the Obama administration is that you cannot be patient with a tyrant and that is what Ahmadinejad is. He is never going to like us and we had better get accustomed to that.
There has been a dramatic shift in U.S. policy toward Israel, with the administration pressuring Israel to relinquish parts of Jerusalem for a future Palestinian state along with the settlements in Judea and Samaria. Do you think the creation of a Palestinian state is in America’s best interest and would you support an Israeli strike on Iran as former UN Ambassador John Bolton has suggested?
Israel is our closest and best ally and deserves to be treated as such. I felt Obama used the first year of his presidency to rub Israel’s nose in the dirt. Senator Schumer refused to voice his opposition to this. Look, if President Bush had done to Israel what Obama is doing, Schumer would have vociferously protested.
I don’t believe Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. That is patently ridiculous. I don’t believe the creation of a Palestinian state will bring peace to this war-torn region and I vehemently oppose the creation of a state that would represent an existential threat to Israel’s security. I would certainly support Israel’s right to defend itself against the Iranian nuclear threat; that would be in America’s best interest as well.
Over the last six months, Senator Schumer has held press conferences on such inane issues as airline baggage fees, the increase of salt in cheeseburgers, sunscreen and Facebook but he won’t utter a word of protest regarding the president’s treatment of Israel. Senators can make noise and they are indeed in a unique position to make such noise and I plan to do just that.
The demonization of Israel is growing at alarming proportions not only on our college campuses but also throughout the world, especially in Europe. What would you do in the Senate to help stop this phenomenon and how would you work to support Israel’s position vis-a-vis the U.S.?
I believe our support for Israel cannot be limited to uttering platitudes. It is America’s best interest to ensure that Israel possesses access to the best military technology available. The prime minister of Israel’s responsibility and obligation is to the safety, welfare and health of his nation and its citizens and he should not be excoriated for doing so.
Israel should never be held to a standard we wouldn’t hold ourselves to. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Israel demanded that the U.S. negotiate with leaders of countries that deny our right to exist? That would never be tolerated, so why should Israel be expected to tolerate that kind of nonsense? There’s a double standard when it comes to Israel and Schumer knows this. Why is he afraid to call his president on the carpet for doing this? Why doesn’t he finally stand up for the constituency that elected him?
You’ve said you will work toward repealing the health-care reform bill. You call this an “entitlement” that this country cannot afford. What kind of reforms would you replace it with that would lower health care costs?
I don’t oppose health insurance reform – I oppose the way it was done. I think we should encourage our free market to work. Let’s allow the sale of health insurance policies across state lines. Let’s give individuals the same tax breaks as those who work for large employers. The small business owner should have the same tax breaks as someone working for IBM. Let’s allow people to purchase health savings accounts and what they use will come out of their health and savings account.
The health care plan rammed through the Senate will swell the ranks of the jobless, raise taxes on those who can least afford them, cause health insurance premiums to skyrocket, and place federal bureaucrats between doctor and patient. It will deprive millions of Americans of access to the quality health care they have come to expect, retard the development of new miracle drugs and medical devices, force doctors into early retirement, and ruin the best health care system the world has known.
In New York State, we will see the skyrocketing rates in our health insurance plans. The quality of health care will not improve and I expect that it will decline tremendously. Right now, in New York State, doctors are leaving by the droves and going to such places as Texas because of the exponential rise in their medical liability insurance. We’ve got to stop the frivolous lawsuits being filed against doctors and we’ve got to reduce the cost of defensive medicine.Fern Sidman