Scott Brown took a half hour to talk to the local Jewish newspaper: Brown takes hard line for Israel
The Senate race
By Kenneth H. Kaplan Special to the Advocate
Nearing the end of a brief Senate campaign focused almost exclusively on domestic issues, State Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican candidate, sought to sharply distinguish himself from his Democratic opponent in the areas of security and Mideast policies. Brown called Attorney General Martha Coakley wrong on both Iran and Afghanistan and portrayed himself as a longtime friend of Israel who would be one of its leading advocates in Washington.
Brown, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard who cited more than once his “training in the issues of war and peace,” said Coakley is “out of touch on military issues.” He said she is making a mistake by extending constitutional rights to terror suspects “at taxpayers’ expense,” insisting that they instead be treated as enemy combatants.
Brown spoke last weekend by phone from his home in Wrentham in advance of the Jan. 19 special election. At times both laid back and feisty in the half-hour interview, he wondered aloud whether young American Jews fully understand Israel’s security needs. He criticized President Obama for pressing Israel to freeze all settlement activity, but praised his plan to send more troops to Afghanistan. On the campaign itself, he said, “If I could have the Jewish community come out, a bloc [Coakley] thinks she’s getting, I’ll win this thing by 5 to 8 percent.”
The following are excerpts from the interview:
Q: Israel enjoyed extremely close ties with the United States under the Bush administration. Critics say despite that, no real progress was made toward achieving peace, leading them to conclude that the US should put more pressure on Israel. Do you subscribe to that view?
I understand it, but I don’t agree with it. … President Bush was one of the most pro-Israel presidents in our lifetime, and first of all, it takes two or three entities to get down to the bargaining table and come up with peace. But when you have groups who will not adhere to the treaties of yesteryear and want to have a whole new set of treaties, one of the first things you need to do is have these entities recognize the agreements and honor them, and obviously recognize the right for Israel to actually survive.
Q: Speaking of existing agreements, Israel previously agreed to stop building more settlements. The Obama administration pressed Israel to halt any more settlement activity. Are settlements an obstacle to achieving a two-state solution?
Well certainly, but Israel also has the right to live in its lands without having another country dictate terms before you get to the bargaining table. Whether it’s close settlements or not build, you can’t be giving away cards before you get to the bargaining table. … I find it offensive that [Obama is] setting the terms before even sitting down at the table. … I think that Israel had done more than enough in terms of extending the olive branch to get people to the bargaining table.
Q: Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank and its incursion into the Gaza Strip both achieved their aims, measured by the reduction in suicide bombings inside Israel and rocket fire from Gaza. Yet both have been condemned as violating Palestinians’ rights. Are Israel’s methods excessive?
A: Well, when it comes to your survival, I don’t know, what’s excessive? When you have people lobbing missiles into your bedrooms, you need to establish security measures to protect your kids, your families. … And don’t forget. when you have Hamas lobbing missiles from hospitals and schools, you’re at an unfair disadvantage. Israel and the United States, we follow the Geneva Conventions and the protocols and the laws of war.
Q: The United States was fortunate to have been spared in the attempted attack aboard a Detroit-bound plane. How should the US tighten air security? Is there anything that should or should not be borrowed from Israel’s methods, which, while effective, have been criticized for involving profiling?
A: Let me just backtrack and add another wrinkle to that. I do not believe that these people should be treated as ordinary criminals. They should be treated as enemy combatants. We’re in a war. Clearly there was a tie to Al Qaeda. [The Detroit suspect] should never have been lawyered up at taxpayer expense. He should immediately be treated as an enemy combatant and transferred down to Gitmo or some other facility, and interrogated under the laws of the United States and the Geneva Convention and all the laws of war, first of all. So there’s a mistake that Martha Coakley is making by providing constitutional rights to enemy combatants and opening up a whole new level of rights that they’re not entitled to at taxpayer expense. … I would rather spend more time keeping our people safe and then maybe infringing on our liberties a little bit at a time when in fact there are some very serious threats upon us.
Q: How concerned are you that Iran is close to acquiring a nuclear weapon? Do you believe economic sanctions can halt the Iranian program? If not, should other measures be considered, or should the world, and Israel, find a way to coexist with a nuclear Iran?
That’s scary. Well, first of all there’s a couple of things happening. Ahmadinejad … Martha Coakley wants to have one-on-one negotiations with him. She would go there. That’s ridiculous. You don’t want to legitimize his regime and give it a propaganda tool. She’d be the only one who wants to do that. Not even President Obama wants to do that. Low-level negotiations are great, but they’re obviously playing the cat and mouse game. …
They’re at 28 percent unemployment. Their cash reserves are almost gone. So if there is any type of economic threat right now, that can work … it would shut their industry down cold. …
Everyone knows that Israel has the right to protect itself. The option to attack Iran is always there. You don’t even need to mention it.
Q: Martha Coakley recently voiced opposition to Obama’s plan to send more troops to Afghanistan. What do you think should be the American commitment?
First of all, she’s wrong. It shows how out of touch she is with military issues. … By having the amount of troops we have there now, they’re spread so thin that they’re vulnerable. So … I do support the president. Especially his 180 on this very issue. He took the time to figure out what the problem was. I commend him for that, publicly. … He’s looking to provide the tools and resources to our men and women to finish the job. And the job is very clear. It’s to make sure the Taliban and Al Qaeda do not reestablish bases, reestablish control.
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