Jan. 6 (JTA) The Jewish American community is to be congratulated for its active involvement in the political process. Concerned, aware citizens are essential to the functioning of our democracy and ensure that the voice of people is heard in the corridors of power. My friendship with the Jewish community extends back to my earliest days in public service as a legislator in Illinois. As a U.S. senator, my support for the state of Israel was unwavering. The Jewish community shares the concerns of most Americans: the costs of the current administration’s lack of true leadership. Americans know that lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is an integral step in our struggle against terrorism around the world, and it is essential to our security here at home. Israel must be secure against terrorists and the states and organizations that support them. In order to end the ever-escalating violence, we must return to diplomacy and negotiation. Although President Bush presented his “road map” for peace, his failure to get all parties back to the negotiating table has allowed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to descend further into violence. This administration allowed diplomacy to collapse and abandoned the goals of the Oslo Accords; the resultant violence underscores a failure of leadership. The Bush administrations’ lack of commitment has debilitated the now-moribund peace process, of which Israel’s “security fence” is an unfortunate symbol. In order to achieve a sustainable peace, as president I will work to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the bargaining table, to build the two-state solution laid out in the Oslo Accords. I will work to ensure that neighboring countries understand that peace in the region will spread prosperity to all. The issues that went unresolved in the aftermath of Oslo control of Jerusalem, geographic boundaries of a Palestinian state and security against terrorism will be addressed meaningfully only when we return to the negotiating table. With leadership truly committed to diplomacy and negotiation, we can resolve this decades-long conflict. Another challenge Americans face is the quality and availability of public education. Universal public education is not only a private benefit; it is also a public good. The rungs on the ladder of success are crafted in our classrooms. The federal government pays only 6 percent of the cost of public education, passing the rest of the costs on to states and property-tax payers. Given the state of public education crumbling schools and crowded classrooms we should pay more of the costs of education at the national level. Voucher programs drain needed dollars from under-funded public schools while not ensuring that every public-school student has a seat in a private school. As an Illinois legislator and a U.S. senator, I fought to protect and fund public education. As president I will work to ensure that every American child has access to a quality public education. Just as vouchers will weaken education, the Bush administration’s “faith-based initiatives” blur the line between church and state and threaten minority religions. Tax dollars should not be used to sponsor discrimination. As president, I will champion religious freedom by keeping the government out of temples, mosques and churches. To return to peace and prosperity, we must elect a president committed to addressing the concerns of the American people. If elected, as president I will work to ensure that our country’s future is brighter and more secure.Carol Moseley Braun represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate from 1993-1999 and served as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand from 1999-2001.
Carol Moseley Braun’s statement