Profile: Howard Dean Supports Isreali Violence
By Ahmed Nassef,
Muslim WakeUp! Magazine
June 30, 2003
Although often portrayed as progressive, former Vermont governor
and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean falls short on
several issues important to progressives, with the Middle East being
one of the more glaring.
True, Dean is one of the Democratic presidential hopefuls who opposed
the invasion of Iraq (along with Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, conservative
Sen. Bob Graham, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, and Rev.
Al Sharpton), but he is closer to a hawk when it comes to Israel/Palestine
and U.S. policy toward Iran.
In a major foreign policy speech earlier this year, Dean, while
calling for an end to Palestinian violence, did not call for an
end to Israeli violence, let alone an end to the illegal Israeli
And when asked whether his views are closer to the dovish Americans
for Peace Now (APN) or the right-wing, Sharon-supporting American
Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he stated unequivocally
in an interview with the Jewish weekly The Forward, "My view
is closer to AIPAC's view."
"At one time the Peace Now view was important, but now Israel
is under enormous pressure. We have to stop terrorism before peace
negotiations," he said.
Similarly, Dean's official campaign position on solving the Palestinian-Israeli
problem is that "terrorism against Israel must end," but
there is no mention of the Israeli violence that has resulted in
over 2,391 deaths since September 2000.
Last December, Dean told the Jerusalem Post that he unequivocally
supported $8 billion in U.S. loan guarantees for Israel. "I
believe that by providing Israel with the loan guarantees ... the
US will be advancing its own interest," he said. His unconditional
support for the loan package, in addition to $4 billion in outright
grants, went further than even some of the most pro-Israel elements
in the Bush administration, like Paul Wolfowitz, who wanted to at
least include some vague restrictions like pushing Israel to curtail
new settlements and accept a timetable to establish a Palestinian
On the illegal Israeli settlements, Dean seems to be waffling of
late. A pro-Dean blog quotes his campaign as calling for the ultimate
removal of only "a number of existing settlements." (The
link back to the official site was no longer operational as of this
writing.) However, in what may signal a softening of his position
to woo progressive voters in the just passed MoveOn.org PAC Democratic
"primary" vote, Dean called last month for "ultimately
dismantling the settlements." So which one is it?
(Dean won the MoveOn vote, but did not secure the 50 percent majority
needed to gain the PACs support. More rounds of voting will
In fact, Dean's alignment with AIPAC and their right-wing politics
goes much deeper than aligning with the groups platform. Last
year, he named Steven Grossman, a former AIPAC head, as his campaign's
chief fundraiser. Soon after, he flew to Israel on an AIPAC-sponsored
And in a telling statement about whether a President Dean would
act any differently toward Iran than the Bush neocons, Dean also
told The Forward, "The United States has to ... take a much
harder line on Iran and Saudi Arabia because they're funding terrorism."
In fact, Dean thinks President Bush is way too soft on Iran. In
a March appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Dean explained
that "[President Bush] is beholden to the Saudis and the Iranians,"
something that would certainly come as a surprise to the current
regime leaders in Iran who've been labeled as part of an alleged
"Axis of Evil" by the current U.S. president. Dean even
left open the possibility of preemptive strikes against that country
in that interview, adding that "we have to be very, very careful
Once again, sounding very much like President Bush, Dean charged
during a New Hampshire campaign stop this month that Iran (along
with Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Libya) was "funding Palestinian
terrorists and fueling terrorism throughout the world."
Apparently, there is another side to this "anti-war"
candidate. When combined with his dubious record as governor on
issues like welfare "reform" and gun control, it may be
prudent for progressives to think twice before casting their vote
for Howard Dean.