Kucinich withdraws as Palm Beach County Democratic keynoter amid uproar over his Israel stanceby George Bennett | November 6th, 2009
He’s the second Democratic keynoter to be scratched this week. The party dumped Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu on Tuesday because local activists were upset by her refusal to commit to blocking a Republican filibuster of health care overhaul legislation.
After Kucinich was announced as the replacement speaker, state Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, threatened a boycott and state Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, County Commissioner Burt Aaronson and state Rep. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, voiced disapproval today.
Kucinich has a long history of criticizing the actions of the Israeli government, voting against congressional resolutions in support of Israel and opposing sanctions against the anti-Israel government of Iran.
His critics have “falsely characterized” those stances as being anti-Israel, Kucinich said this afternoon in an e-mail to Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel. While defending his position, Kucinich said he didn’t want the controversy to hurt the local party’s money-raising efforts.
Read his complete statement to Siegel after the jump….
E-mail from U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich to Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel:
Dear Mr. Chairman,
When I accepted your very kind invitation as a last-minute speaker at the Palm Beach Democratic event, I did so because I thought it would be helpful to the local party. I have since learned that some of your officials are falsely characterizing me as “anti-Israel” and threatening to boycott the dinner, costing the party needed resources, so I humbly withdraw.
I have always taken a conciliatory approach toward matters in the Middle East, as recently at a few days ago when I gave the following speech in Congress: http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=152892
I have always defended Israel’s right to survive and its right to defend itself. I believe in peace and have worked towards it my entire life.
I regret your officials never spoke to me because perhaps they would understand why despite taking a more independent voting path in Congress, I have still maintained close friendships and working relationships with members of Congress who are indentified as Israel’s strongest supporters. They know that when I speak out on matters in the Middle East, I come from an understanding of the importance of addressing the security and economic concern of all parties. We achieve understanding and peaceful relationships through communication,
You have my best wishes for a successful dinner and I am hopeful that anyone who had planned to attend the event will do so and continue to support the Palm Beach Democratic Party.
Dennis J Kucinich