WASHINGTON, DC- The National Jewish Democratic Council today called on Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to learn more about Israel, Iran, and the peace process given his inconsistent stream of statements related to the Middle East.
NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:
“Over the last few weeks Herman Cain has shown and even admitted that he has very little understanding of Israel and the challenges it faces, yet he continues to pontificate as if he has spent years studying Israel and the Middle East. His self-contradictory assertions show that his lack of knowledge will not stand in the way of his using Israel as a partisan wedge issue to take shots at President Obama’s excellent pro-Israel record. He needs to get an education on Israel and quit playing partisan games with the U.S.-Israel relationship. Otherwise, he should just stick to selling pizza.”
American Jews expect Presidential candidates to understand the Middle East and the existential challenges facing Israel, particularly the Iranian nuclear program. Cain’s recent statements demonstrate that he does not understand the region.
The state of Israel is best served when America speaks with one voice. By creating the illusion that there is a rift between President Obama and Israel, Republicans are emboldening Israel’s enemies and are sending a dangerous message to the world that American support for Israel is weakening. The consequences of those actions, coupled with ignorance of the region, has grave implications for the future of the Jewish state.
On May 22, Cain appeared on Fox News Sunday (FNS) and was visibly uncomfortable taking questions about the Middle East. He sought repeated clarifications from host Chris Wallace on fundamental concepts such as the Palestinian right of return. His body language and hesitations appeared to reflect Cain’s weak grasp of the facts. He hastily issued a statement later in the day that clarified his stance. [TPM, May 23, 2011]
On May 23, he told Sean Hannity that he “now know[s] what that [the Palestinian right of return] is.” He also unjustifiably criticized President Obama for a position on the 1967 borders that was not reflected in the President’s recent remarks on the Middle East. [Fox News, May 23, 2011]
On May 29, The Washington Post published a profile of Cain which declared that he was “reading a book on Israel,” presumably following the FNS interview. He attempted to justify that performance by saying that he was more concerned about pronouncing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “name right” than the substantive issues affecting the peace process. [The Washington Post, May 29, 2011]
On June 8, Cain appeared on Glenn Beck’s television show and wrongfully declared that President Obama “threw Israel under the bus,” the exact phrase that Mitt Romney used immediately after President Obama’s May 19 speech. [Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2011] He also repeated the same wrongful attack on President Obama for positions regarding the 1967 borders that the President does not actually hold. [The Daily Beck, June 8, 2011]
On June 9, Cain had an irrelevant answer to a question about stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He told Bill O’Reilly that the way to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program is to achieve domestic energy independence. [Political Correction, June 10, 2011]