Monday, September 19, 2011

Words Have Meaning: LeMieux's Palestinian Faux Pas

Here's your #facepalm moment of the day: George LeMieux, the once-and-would-be-future-Senator, sent an email to his supporters in which he referred to "Palestine," which is not a recognized country.

The timing is especially troublesome, coming the week of a crucial United Nations vote on the very subject of an independent Palestinian state. Supporters of Israel have stood strong and refused to accept a Palestinian state as long as they continue to engage in terrorism and deny Israel's right to exist. Referring to "Palestine," as if it were already a country with legal status, is, at best, imprudent.

September 19, 2011
Contact: Douglass Mayer
Adam Hasner Statement On Senator LeMieux's Recognition Of "Palestine"

Boca Raton, FL - Just days before the likely United Nations vote over an independent Palestinian state, Senator George LeMieux issued a statement to supporters referring to "Palestine." Not prospectively or hypothetically but simply "Palestine." While the overall direction of his statement was favorable to Israel, his misunderstanding of the stakes in the Middle East, where words and terminology matter, was made clear. U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner released the following statement in response: 
"Senator LeMieux's direct reference to 'Palestine' at this critical moment exposes either his misunderstanding of Israel's history or a disrespect for Israel's borders and security. Even President Obama is unwilling to recognize the declaration of a Palestinian state at this point, so why should Senator LeMieux?
"We share bonds of trust, friendship, and common values with Israel, bonds that I believed Senator LeMieux understood. But this mistake is so glaring and comes at such an important time that it calls into question his understanding of the existential risks Israel faces from the Palestinian terrorist organizations that seek to destroy it.
"Terminology and language have diplomatic consequence, and although I hope that Senator LeMieux's statement was a simple oversight, a man who has served in the U.S. Senate should be more conscious of the implications of his words. 'Palestine' is not an existent country, and this is so because the Palestinian Arabs are unwilling to end their terror and recognize the Jewish State of Israel's right to exist. They are the true obstacles to peace.
"Senator LeMieux's recognition of 'Palestine' whether through ignorance or error, is a dangerous failure of leadership on an issue of fundamental importance to America, Israel, and the world.
"I call on Senator LeMieux to immediately stop his erroneous use of the term 'Palestine.'  In addition, since the timing couldn't be worse for a former U.S. Senator to use this inappropriate term, if his use of 'Palestine' was a mistake, rather than a disastrous policy pronouncement, I call on him to issue an immediate and widely distributed correction."
In A Recent Email To Supporters, Senator LeMieux Makes Reference To "Palestine." "Palestine And The UN...Recently, Palestine announced it will continue its efforts for recognition of statehood in the United Nations. So long as Palestine continues to sanction actions of terror against Israel, our staunchest ally in the Middle East, the United Nations should not recognize Palestine as a member state. Palestinian leaders admit their motivation for recognition is to pursue claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court.  Until Palestinian leadership commits to a serious peace process and severs ties with Hezbollah, it should not be granted United Nations' recognition." (Senator George LeMieux, "Senator George LeMieux's Weekly Report," 9/18/2011)
The debate over Israeli-Palestinian relations is extremely complex and delicate, and accordingly, politicians are well-advised to use a higher degree of caution in how they address the issue. Just look at the firestorm that ignited after President Obama suggested that Israel return to its 1967 borders back in May. Considering LeMieux's status as a former United States Senator, his words carry weight, and he should have known better. 

Words have meaning, and statements like LeMieux's, whether made carelessly or intentionally, can serve to undermine American foreign policy and encourage our enemies, and Israel's enemies as well. LeMieux should issue a correction and apology as soon as possible.

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