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A candidate with a lengthy history of anti-Israel activism is on course to gain the Democratic Party’s nomination for a new congressional district in Arizona, raising alarms in party circles.
Longtime Arizona state politician Kyrsten Sinema is vying for the Democratic nomination in the state’s Ninth Congressional District, a sickle-shaped enclave encompassing portions of Tempe, Mesa, and the outskirts of Phoenix.
Sinema, a former Arizona state senator and Barack Obama delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, bills herself as the archetypal Democratic candidate—pro-environment, pro-jobs, and, without doubt, staunchly pro-Israel.
But a closer examination of her career reveals that Sinema has advocated against what she calls the “Israeli occupation” and helped create several groups that oppose the U.S.-Israel alliance.
“She’s trying to scrub a 10-year record of radicalism on all aspects, and she doesn’t realize you can’t erase things you’ve said and done for the sake of running for office,” said one Democratic Arizona lawmaker who has worked with Sinema. “For us [Democrats] it’s a very scary situation because we don’t want our reputation to be diminished by one ambitious politician. Many of us pro-Israel politicians don’t want to see her win because it will diminish our positions on Israel.”
Another Democratic insider in Arizona described Sinema’s past deeds as “albatrosses hanging around her neck.”
Sinema’s foray into anti-Israel activism began in the early 2000s when she organized for the Arizona Alliance for Peace and Justice (AAPJ), a group whose members have denounced Israel’s “disproportionate” use of “violence and oppression.”
The group also decried U.S. military aid to Israel as well as the expansion of Israeli settlements “into Palestinian lands.”
Sinema later urged supporters of the AAPJ to deluge the phone lines of a radio show hosted by “an unapologetic unconditional supporter of Israeli policy.”
To this day, AAPJ continues to take a hardline stance against Israel, aligning itself with the far left Occupy AIPAC movement and sponsoring various speeches “against the Israeli occupation.”
Another of Sinema’s progeny is Local to Global Justice, a grassroots advocacy group that has positioned itself as one of Arizona’s leading critics of the Jewish state.
The organization has advocated in favor of the Palestinian “right of return,” a policy that critics say would all but destroy Israel’s Jewish character.
In addition to playing a principal role in these far left, Israel bashing outfits, Sinema formerly served as a spokesman for Women in Black, an anti-war group that was founded in part to support Palestinians during the Intifada.
“It’s a very generous reading [of her past] to think she’s just critical of Israel,” said the Arizona Democratic insider.
Her advocacy has “put her in opposition to the existence of Israel, and there’s not a lot of ways to talk around that. The groups and individuals she’s been associated with are unequivocal.”
As a lawmaker in the State House, Sinema continued to fraternize with Israel’s fiercest opponents, including the anti-war group CODEPINK, which has promoted conspiracy theories claiming that the so-called “Israel lobby” exerts ultimate control over U.S. foreign policy.
In 2006, Sinema penned a laudatory missive to the Israel critic Marwan Ahmad, a native Palestinian who was booted from a Phoenix political committee for “promoting messages of intolerance against Israel [and] the Jewish community.”
Though Sinema later condemned Ahmad after local Jewish newspapers applied pressure, she initially praised him for “13 years of service to the mosaic ethnic communities here in the Valley of the Sun.”
Sinema has a record that should cause alarm for the district’s large Jewish community, said the Democratic Arizona lawmaker who worked with Sinema.
“It’s important for the Jewish community and pro-Israel supporters to recognize that whoever wins this primary will likely win the election,” said the source. “People should be concerned because I don’t think she has a moral compass, and when you have to make decisions on national security, you need a moral compass.”
A spokesperson for Sinema maintained that the candidate has a well-established pro-Israel record and directed a reporter to read an Israel policy paper posted on the campaign’s official website.
The document in question portrays Sinema as a mainstream, pro-Israel activist who would champion the Jewish state on Capitol Hill.
Politicos in Arizona and D.C., however, are not buying it. They maintain that Sinema is dissembling in order to secure a seat in Congress.
“Kyrsten Sinema launched her career as an extreme committed leftist. But when she realized she couldn’t get elected to Congress on such an extreme platform, she moderated herself,” said one Arizona political figure. “Problem is, that still makes her the most liberal politician in the entire state of Arizona.”
One senior Democratic official in D.C. said, “There’s no room for [Sinema’s] extremist views and for her to have any serious position in the Democratic Party—especially not in Congress.”
If Sinema were victorious, she would become “the least-supportive member of Congress for Israel since Rep. Cynthia McKinney,” added the Democratic official.
Travis Grantham, a Republican frontrunner who could potentially face the controversial Democrat in a general election, recalled that Sinema was cozying up to various officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual gala earlier this year.
“Kyrsten was trying very hard to make herself look pro-Israel—but she’s not,” Grantham told the Free Beacon. “She’s trying to play clean up. It’s obviously her trying to raise money and attract voters in the primary.”
In addition to her views on Israel, Sinema has rallied against America’s war on terrorism and, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, led demonstrations against the military’s hunt for Osama bin Laden.
On the domestic front, Sinema has often displayed what some observers termed erratic behavior.
In 2003, for instance, she recalled “singing and spiraling” in a “pagan” dance pit during an anti-war protest rally.
Her liabilities are not limited to foreign policy.
During a 2006 interview with a nightlife magazine, Sinema said, “These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks is some sort of feminism because they're choosing to live that life. … That's bullshit. I mean, what the fuck are we really talking about here?”
“She has a pattern of radical views, and she certainly shouldn’t be holding herself up to represent the Democratic Party,” said the D.C. Democrat.