Hawk To Challenge Hillary

The Jewish Week - July 7, 2000 - Adam Dickter

Calling a Senate win by Hillary Rodham Clinton a "victory for Yasir Arafat and his allies," a long-shot candidate for the Democratic nomination is espousing his tough views on Israel as one of the major differences between himself and the first lady.

In meetings with Jews in Borough Park and Crown Heights Mark McMahon, a Jericho, L.I., surgeon, has presented himself as a harsh critic of Palestinian statehood. The Brooklyn-born McMahon, 39, believes that Israel's strategy should be based on a Reaganesque policy of "peace through strength" rather than land for peace.

"They just have to say, Look, the borders are where they stand. We're not giving up any more land,' "says McMahon, who toured Israel in 1985 as a student at the London School of Economics.

Before running for the Senate, Clinton said it would be "in the long-term interests of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state." But McMahon says be believes that would lead to the destruction of Israel.

McMahon says Arafat, the Palestinian leader, cannot be trusted to run a state.

"I think it's sort of a shameful thing that this man who is responsible for the deaths of thousands and thousands of Jews is accorded with such respect," said McMahon. When asked to explain that figure, McMahon amended his answer to say "multitudes and multitudes" of Jews.

McMahon, who insists he has raised more than the 15,000 signatures required to win a spot on the Sept. 12 Democratic primary ballot, also supports clemency for Israel spy Jonathan Pollard, while Clinton has taken no position.

McMahon attributed Clinton's views on Israel to her not having grown up in New York. "Coming from Arkansas, Israel to [Clinton] is no different from Belgium or Chile. It's just another foreign policy subject. You don't have that emotional connection."

Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson pointed out that Clinton grew up in Illinois. "There are no Jews in Chicago?" he asked. Wolfson said he was skeptical that McMahon's name would appear on the ballot.

But Jeff Reznik, a consultant and former aide to Assemblyman Dov Hikind who is working on McMahon's campaign, said the candidate was gaining momentum among right-wing Jews.

"He understands that from 1947 to 1967, no Arab state wanted to make Jerusalem their capital, and that it is only an issue now" that Israel controls it, says Reznik.

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