Israel Political Brief July 26, 2011: Weiner’s Exit Sets Off a Race to Be Israel’s Better Friend

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: NYT, 7-26-11

Ty Cacek/The New York Times

Assemblyman David I. Weprin, center, is a Democrat running against Bob Turner for the House seat Anthony D. Weiner gave up.

 

Assemblyman David I. Weprin, the Democratic candidate to replace former Representative Anthony D. Weiner in a special election on Sept. 13, is a Modern Orthodox Jew who keeps kosher, observes the Sabbath and has been to Israel at least eight times. So it comes as a surprise that, at this early stage of the short campaign, New York’s Ninth Congressional District finds itself talking about an unlikely subject — whether Mr. Weprin, who is unabashedly pro-Israel, is the best pro-Israel advocate.

Uli Seit for The New York Times

Former Mayor Edward I. Koch, in jacket, with Mr. Turner, a Republican, whom Mr. Koch endorsed for Congress on Monday.

Just as a May special election in a conservative district of western New York turned into an unexpected referendum on the Republican Party’s proposals about Medicare, the coming special election in a heavily Jewish district of Brooklyn and Queens is, at least for that district, emerging as a potential referendum on President Obama’s proposals about the Middle East.

“It will be a one-upsmanship on who is more pro-Israel,” said Chris Malone, an associate professor of political science at Pace University.

On Monday, former Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Democrat, endorsed the Republican candidate in the race, Bob Turner, a retired cable television executive, at a press conference at which he stood next to an Israeli flag. Mr. Koch has acknowledged that Mr. Weprin is a strong supporter of Israel, but argued that the election of Mr. Turner would serve as a rebuke to Mr. Obama for saying that Israel’s pre-1967 border should be the basis for a peace agreement.

Both Mr. Weprin, 55, and Mr. Turner, 70, have criticized the president’s position on Israel, and both promote their support for Israel on their campaign Web sites.

But Mr. Koch said that although he and Mr. Weprin had similar political ideals, he had concluded that Mr. Weprin could not be “an effective messenger” to Mr. Obama.

“I said to him that it’s not a personal matter, but I want you to understand that it’s an issue that’s bigger than you and that’s bigger than me,” Mr. Koch said. “The president is not likely to be offended or feel threatened by David Weprin, Democrat from Queens, saying something critical of him.”….READ MORE

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