MR. RUSSERT: Israel assassinated Hamas leader Rantisi. Do you support that assassination?

SEN. KERRY: I believe Israel has every right in the world to respond to any act of terror against it. Hamas is a terrorist, brutal organization. It has had years to make up its mind to take part in a peaceful process. They refuse to. Arafat refuses to. And I support Israel’s efforts to try to separate itself and to try to be secure. The moment Hamas says, “We’ve given up violence, we’re prepared to negotiate,” I am absolutely confident they will find an Israel that is thirsty to have that negotiation. 


Notice that he did not answer the question. (If you think he did, re-read the answer and then take this short quiz: Would John Kerry (a) support or (b) oppose an Israeli assassination of Yasir Arafat?). And Kerry’s suggestion that Hamas need only say it has “given up” violence and is “prepared to negotiate” seems on a par with his statement that Israel should simply pick up where things left off at Taba and negotiate.

When you combine all this with Kerry’s untrue “staff mistake” statement to the Jewish community in February, his castigation in December of President Bush’s policy on the “peace process” as part of a foreign policy gone “radically wrong” — followed less than three months later by his announcement of “complete” support of President Bush in that area — there is legitimate cause for concern about Kerry’s steadfastness in this area. Senate votes are easy. A consistent, candid position seems to be a little harder.

In any event, it is not a “second to none” record — although Kerry is campaigning as if it were. In mid-April, campaigning in Florida, Kerry assured his audience, according to the Washington Post, that his record on Israel was perfect:

“For 20 years, Joe [Lieberman] will tell you, I have a 100 percent record — not a 99, a 100 percent record — of sustaining the special relationship, the friendship that we have with Israel.”

His actual record is more nuanced. 


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Rick Richman, whose work has appeared in The New York Sun, The Tower Magazine, and The Jewish Press, among other publications, is a prolific writer who appears regularly in Commentary magazine and its group Contentions blog, where this originally appeared. He also maintains the Jewish Current Issues blog (