Democratic Primary: From Michael Steinberg

Democratic Primary: From Michael Steinberg

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

Aside from Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, two Democrats are on the Georgia presidential primary ballot: Martin O’Malley, who has suspended his campaign, and Michael Steinberg. After seeing the AJT’s columns for candidates in the primary, Steinberg asked to publish this message to our community.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address your readers and explain why they should vote for Michael Steinberg in the Democratic presidential primary of Georgia.

The Democratic presidential nomination is decided by delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Most delegates are elected through the primary elections and caucuses, but a significant number are superdelegates, which means they serve as delegates automatically because of their status, such as former president or senator.

In the Democratic Party, delegates are awarded on a proportional basis. Therefore, if a candidate gets 15 percent of the vote, he or she will be awarded 15 percent of the delegates. If the division of delegates between the top candidates is close, a lesser-known candidate with a handful of delegates could have an impact on the eventual nominee. Even if the division of delegates is not close, a candidate with delegates can participate in the platform process. This is very important to the pro-Israel Jewish community.

To give you a little background about me, I am a 57-year-old attorney who practices primarily in the area of Social Security disability and veterans compensation claims. I have been married to my wife, Miriam, for 32 years. Miriam is originally from Israel and is an engineer. We have three adult daughters. Jacklyn works in my law firm, Sarah lives and works in Israel, and Ester is a professional comedian in Los Angeles. I am a member of a Conservative synagogue in Tampa, Fla., and am active in the Jewish community. I am also a longtime member of AIPAC.

The following is my position on Israel and the Middle East:

  • America and Israel have a unique relationship. In a region of dictatorships and kingdoms, Israel stands alone as a democratic state thatshares similar values and principles as the United States. Notwithstanding shared values, the United States has a strategic, military and economic basis for supporting Israel. Currently, Israel receives about $3 billion in U.S. assistance per year through the United States Foreign Military Financing Act. However, 74 percent of this money must be spent on American defense equipment. This means that the aid to Israel directly benefits American companies and American workers. Furthermore, Israel shares the defense technology it develops with the United States. In addition, military support for Israel promotes stability in the Middle East, which in turn enhances America’s national security. As president, I would continue to support significant military financial investments in Israel to ensure Israel has a qualitative military edge in the Middle East.
  • With respect to the Gaza and the West Bank, while I support a two-state solution, neither the United States nor any other country should impose a peace agreement. The United States should only act as a mediator to help facilitate an agreement. In mediating a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors, certain facts must be understood. Some of Israel’s neighbors do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, and the elimination of Israel is their goal. Israel does not have a policy that any other country or people do not have a right to exist or to establish their own state. Therefore, Israel and America must consider Israel’s security first and foremost. A peace agreement must result in real peace. Currently Israel occupies no part of the Gaza Strip, yet militants from Gaza continue to rain missiles and rockets into Israel. Gaza is controlled by Hamas. The charter of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel, and due to their deep-seated beliefs, there is no likelihood that they would change their charter or or position. If Hamas gains political control in the West Bank, there is a reasonable probability Israel would eventually be attacked from the east as well as from Gaza. To be clear, Israel would not attacked from Gaza because of an embargo. It would not be attacked in self-defense. It would be attacked because it is a Jewish state.
  • Regarding the West Bank, the “occupied” territory is land that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war in which Jordan was one of the aggressors. There was no country of Palestine in 1967. Nonetheless, Israel and America recognize that the majority of people living in the West Bank are Arab Muslims who are not Israeli citizens, and these people have a right to be self-governed, and a country should be established on the land in which they live. In addition, if their vision is to call their eventual state Palestine and wish to refer to themselves as Palestinians, America and Israel should respect their feelings and desires.
  • The United States and Israel recognize that Israel’s settlement policy is a conundrum. Since 1967, Israel has permitted its citizens to establish cities and towns in the area captured from Jordan after the 1967 war. These towns and cities are referred to as “settlements.” Many are strategically located for Israel’s security. When it is reported that Israel is expanding its settlements, what is typically occurring is that Israel is authorizing the construction of additional units at existing settlements.
  • Israel and the Palestinian Authority can negotiate a deal where Israel swaps land within Israel for land where Israeli citizens reside in the West Bank. If a one-to-one swap is not feasible, Israel can compensate the future Palestinian state in other ways. Further, there are many Arab and Muslim Israeli citizens. There is no reason why some Jews should not be allowed to remain in a future democratic Palestinian state.
  • Based on historical precedent, Israel is justified in insisting on a demilitarized Palestinian state and to maintain strategic military positions to ensure Israel’s  security, at least for a period of time. With respect to the issue of East Jerusalem and the right of return, these are issues that must be negotiated between the parties involved and not be imposed by outside actors.

The following is my position on the Iran nuclear deal:

  • I lobbied my congresspeople against the deal. I carefully considered the pros and cons of the deal and determined that  it was not in the best interest of the United States to enter into this agreement. The agreement frees up billions of dollars for Iran to use to increase its financial support of terrorist organizations. Furthermore, the agreement does not require Iran to come clean regarding past violations of nuclear restrictions. Now that the deal is in effect, we must insist that Iran strictly comply with the terms of the agreement and take decisive action should they fail to do so. If they continue to financially support terrorist organizations, there must be swift and significant consequences.

Hillary Clinton is heavily favored to win the Georgia primary. Bernie Sanders will also recieve a significant percentage of the vote. A vote for either will not make much of a difference. However, a vote for Michael Steinberg can make a huge difference, even if I only receive a small percentage of the overall vote.

Thank you for your consideration.


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