([ed]Also posted at After Downing Street and MyDD)

Oxymoron:  A combination of contradictory or incongruous words. (Webster)

Jonathan Tasini is a long overlooked, hardworking and truly progressive Democratic candidate who’s been willing to duke it out in the trenches because of his principles, even in a forlorn hope like the challenge to Senate incumbent Hillary Clinton.

I do not believe Israel is a terrorist state. I do believe that Israel has committed acts that violate international standards and the Geneva conventions. –Jonathan Tasini

(more below)
On Tuesday, Howard Wolfson, a Clinton spokesman, sharply criticized Jonathan Tasini’s comments about Israel.

“It’s outrageous, offensive and beyond the pale,” Wolfson said.

That sound bite may satisfy a lot of American supporters of Israel, but as Tasini points out, progressive and anti-war groups in Israel–such as B’Tselem–are critical of any party in a conflict that violates International Humanitarian Law, even Israel:

Over the past week,  Israel has killed hundreds of Lebanese civilians in its attacks against targets in Lebanon . There is a concern that at least some of them were disproportionate attacks, which constitute war crimes. In addition, Israel has launched deliberate attacks against civilian infrastructure throughout Lebanon , such as bridges, the Beirut international airport , the electricity supply and fuel reservoirs.  There is a concern that such attacks are intended to put pressure on the Lebanese Government and not to obtain a specific military advantage. If this is the case, these attacks constitute collective punishment and a grave violation of IHL. Moreover, even if these targets constitute legitimate military objects, or civilian objectives that may be used for military purposes,  Israel must respect the principle of proportionality and refrain from attacks that would cause excessive harm to civilians.

It’s time that our so-called Democratic leadership return to reason and equanimity in exercising judgment–particularly in matters of international diplomacy.

With Hillary Clinton, we’re getting more of the same blanket condemnation of non-Israelis and unconditional support for Israel that we’ve gotten from our own neocons whenever we try to talk about Iraq.  We’re seeing the same fear and smear tactic used to stifle meaningful debate in 2004 when John Kerry tried to criticize President Bush’s so-called, “War On Terror”.  Unfortunately, “Support the Troops” is not a foreign policy.

Similarly, Malcolm Hoenlein of the conference of presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called Mr. Tasini’s comments “stunning” and said, “His ignorance is appalling.”

That sounds like the tactic of changing the subject to attacking the messenger.  The point Tasini makes is that International Humanitarian Law (IHL) applies equally to all parties, and it hurts Israel’s stature in the international community when supporters lack the courage to equally uphold the same standards to all parties.

Tasini went on to say,

I, too, have stated clearly, from the outset, that Hezbollah’s actions violate international law. But, to ignore Israel’s actions is abhorrent, weak and cowardly.

Aren’t we emulating the terrorists we condemn when we kill innocent civilians in reprisal for terrorist attacks?  It’s a question that has been conspicuously absent from our foreign policy debate since 911.

Where are these blind military policies taking us–and the rest of the world?  Isn’t it time we had an open, reasonable debate?

Support Jonathan Tasini.  He can handle the truth.

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