Clinton-Kaine is a pro-Israel ticket

If there was ever a time to put country before party, this is the time. Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview MORE's odious brand of politics should be anathema to all Americans, and especially to Jews, who for so many years have been victims of the ignorance and bigotry mainstreamed by demagogues like Trump.

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The only way to stop Trump is to vote for Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJill Stein: 'I am not a Russian spy' Trump criticizes Clinton for suggesting Jill Stein was Russian asset Graham: I'm seeking to make Trump successful 'but not at all costs' MORE. Casting a write-in vote has the same effect as not voting, and not voting means that you don't care who wins this election.

Yet the Republican Jewish Coalition and others on the right-wing fringe of the pro-Israel community continue to attack Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate MORE (D-Va.), as if they were running against credible alternatives. Have they no shame? Is opposition to bigotry and hatred no longer a Jewish value?

Clinton's record on Israel is outstanding. Her husband was beloved by the Israeli public when he was president. The 2016 Democratic platform on Israel won praise from the Anti-Defamation League and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

So what do we hear from our friends on the right? That in 1999, when she was first lady, Clinton kissed Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's wife at a diplomatic function. That's called etiquette. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook Yasser Arafat's hand. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak put his arm around Arafat's shoulder. Maybe we should ignore their records and question their pro-Israel credentials, too.

I doubt that the thousands of Israelis whose lives were saved by Iron Dome, which Clinton supported, or by the Gaza cease-fire, which Clinton brokered, are troubled by a routine meeting that occurred while she was first lady.

Both Clinton and Kaine supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) entered into by the U.S., its allies and Iran. The JCPOA blunted the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran through diplomacy, not war.

President Obama noted on the one-year anniversary of the deal that:

"Iran has shipped out 98 percent of its enriched uranium, dismantled two thirds of its centrifuges, filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete, and adopted the most intrusive inspection and verification program ever negotiated for a nuclear program. IAEA reports have confirmed that Iran is complying with its commitments. As a result, all of Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon remain closed, and Iran's breakout time has been extended from two to three months to about a year."

No wonder Jews in Congress supported the JCPOA by more than a two-to-one margin. Israel and the U.S. are safer today because of the JCPOA. If you opposed the JCPOA last year, you are no more obligated to continue your opposition than supporters of the Iraq War were obligated to continue their support for that war. New facts can lead to new opinions. The success of the JCPOA thus far, as well as the support for the JCPOA by so many Jewish members of Congress at the time, should at least be cause for reflection.

Last year, strong supporters of Israel lined up on both sides of the JCPOA issue. But even if you are not now convinced of the JCPOA's success — and even supporters of the JCPOA must remain wary of Iran's intentions — to use support for the JCPOA to argue that a candidate is not pro-Israel is an exercise in pure partisanship and irresponsibility.

Kaine was one of 58 members of Congress who skipped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's last speech to Congress. These members of the House and Senate did not want to be used as props in Netanyahu's reelection campaign, and they objected to Speaker of the House John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerIs Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader MORE (R-Ohio) inviting a foreign leader to lobby on the Republican side against the JCPOA. Republicans inflamed this partisan issue by inviting Netanyahu without first informing the White House or congressional Democrats.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerIs Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader MORE's irresponsible invitation forced pro-Israel Democrats to choose between attending a speech that exacerbated tensions between the U.S. and Israel or demonstrating their disapproval by not attending and opening themselves up to attacks from those who would further politicize the issue. Some members of Congress troubled by the inappropriateness of Netanyahu's speech still attended; others stayed away. They should all be judged on their records, not on whether they attended a campaign speech for Netanyahu.

But rather than judge Kaine on his record — because it is a very good record on Israel — we are told to oppose him because J Street supports him. I'm a Kenen Society Lifetime Member of AIPAC, so as you might imagine, I have some disagreements with J Street. Many J Street-backed candidates also disagree with J Street on certain issues and are backed by AIPAC supporters, as well.

In this case, J Street backs Kaine because he supports a two-state solution, because he supported tough sanctions against Iran and because he supported the JCPOA. Those positions are all consistent with support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

The Clinton-Kaine ticket is pro-Israel in the tradition of decades of bipartisan consensus supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. The Trump-Pence ticket is a daily affront to basic standards of decency and humanity. There is no alternative to Donald Trump except Hillary Clinton. As American Jews, as Americans, we must do everything we can to ensure that Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Sheffey has long been active in the pro-Israel community and in Jewish communal life. He is a lifelong member of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and served on the board of CityPAC, a pro-Israel Chicago-based political action committee, for seven years, including two years as its president. He is also active in Democratic politics and served as an elected delegate to the 2012 Democratic Convention from Illinois. Click here to sign up for Sheffey's weekly e-newsletter.


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