In a dispute that commingles foreign policy and a quest for political advantage, U.S.-Israel relations have taken an unexpectedly central role in the California race for Senate.Rivals in the race for the Republican nomination are questioning whether former Rep. Tom Campbell is sufficiently supportive of Israel.
They base their criticisms on his voting record, statements about a Palestinian homeland and capital, and some of his past associates.Their allegations have raised enough concerns for Campbell that he plans to meet Monday with the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He also is reaching out to other Jewish leaders.
His campaign’s honorary chairman, former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, weighed in to call Campbell’s support for the nation “unwavering.””He clearly understands the very real threats facing the Israeli people, all the more urgent now as Iran rushes toward nuclear arms,” Shultz said in a statement released to The Times. “Tom Campbell’s record of action tells you where he stands, and I stand with him.”The two other major Republican primary contestants, former businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, have launched criticisms of Campbell.
The rhetoric has grown so heated that a prominent supporter of Campbell's has accused Fiorina’s campaign manager of calling Campbell an “anti-Semite.” The campaign manager denies the accusation. The debate over Campbell’s Israel credentials, which has been roiling on Jewish and conservative websites, is a rare one in American politics, and even less frequent in Republican primaries compared with Democratic competitions, said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and a former GOP political operative.”Support for Israel is a pretty universal concept among Republicans,” he said. “Support for Israel is a pretty broad-based concept in American politics.”