One reason to root for John Kerry to get the position of Secretary of State is that it looks increasingly likely that such an appointment would result in Russ Feingold getting the chair of Foreign Relations. Sen. Feingold is only the fourth-most senior member of the committee. But the chair is being vacated by Joe Biden, Chris Dodd sounds inclined to keep his chair on the Banking Committee, and Kerry is third in line.

I can definitely see things unfolding this way, and it would lead to an interesting atmosphere for the issue of Israel/Palestine relations. Consider the following:

With Sen. Feingold as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Rep. Brad Sherman as chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee, there would be two Jewish-Americans in charge of influencing U.S. policy and State Department policy. Vice-President Biden is a very strong supporter of Israel, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is an even stronger ally of Israel. But, before advocates for Palestine despair, consider the very real possibility that it is precisely this kind of team that would have the special credibility to force a two-state solution without worrying about massive domestic backlash. Just like Nixon’s hard-core anti-communist reputation gave him room to normalize relations with China, a foreign policy team with flawless pro-Israel credentials might be just what the doctor ordered for revitalizing the peace process in the Middle East.

Everything will depend on the leadership decisions of Barack Obama, and it’s hard to know right now how is inclined to act. In any case, if John Kerry at State means that Feingold gets to chair Foreign Relations, I am happy to support Kerry for State.

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