McClintock, Uppal clash on Israel, Iran saber-rattling

McClintock’s Israel visit defended, criticized as war issue heats up
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - With concern escalating over tensions between Israel and Iran, District 4 U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, and his Democratic opponent Jack Uppal of Lincoln are sparring over future U.S. options. McClintock said Thursday he remains critical of President Barack Obama’s appearance of weakness on the Middle East stage while Uppal said he’s concerned about the potential for the U.S. to be involved in another war. The congressional candidates are also at odds over the ethics of a 2009 trip McClintock made to Israel that was paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation. A trip to Israel sponsored by the same group last year drew recent headlines when freshman GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas admitted jumping naked into the Sea of Galilee. As the two District 4 candidates move toward the Nov. 6 ballot, the United Nations was showing a stronger hand Thursday by forming a special Iran team to probe suspicions that Tehran worked secretly on atomic arms, diplomats told The Associated Press. The move is seen as another sign that fears are increasing over Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons. Israeli leaders have been loudly expressing impatience over Western diplomatic and economic moves to deter Iran and increasingly talk of attacking its nuclear facilities, though some analysts believe the saber-rattling is a bluff to increase pressure on Tehran, AP reported. McClintock said that the 2009 trip was also by new congressmen but involved no swimming. Instead, McClintock said he and the group met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, while touring strategic installations. “Israel’s security is vital to the U.S. and, strategically, it can be compared to Britain in the 1930s,” McClintock said. “We should provide moral and material support for its efforts and survival. Appeasement will always demoralize allies and encourage adversaries.” Uppal said that he supports sanctions against Iran to provide time to work things out, without taking the military option off the table. “I’m very grateful the president hasn’t been in a hurry to rush us off into another war,” Uppal said. Uppal said that he would make a trip to Israel, if necessary, but only if Congress paid for it. “It’s really not right for congressmen to accept travel to foreign countries like that,” Uppal said. “You have to ask who are they working for?” Uppal said he also objected to McClintock’s trips to Palm Beach paid for by the conservative Club for Growth and suspects that the visit to Florida during the colder months wasn’t just business. McClintock said that the only “sightseeing” he had during two-day conferences that he served as speaker or panel member on were “the four walls” of the conference room. “There were top economists there,” McClintock said. “Because I’m a budget committee member, I found the information extremely helpful.” Danny Danon, deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau’s Likud party, told the AP in a phone interview Thursday that Israel was “preparing all scenarios.” He was also dismissive of the agency’s new Iran team. “We are getting close to the point where the window of opportunity will be closed to us, and that’s why you hear all the voices,” he said, when asked about the war rhetoric. “We have seen too many teams, too many summits, too much talk. It is about time to take action.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.