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Interview with Representative Capuano
Representative Capuano, you graduated in 1977 with a law degree. What made you want to become a politician?
I looked around my community and saw too many people leaving instead of putting down roots and trying to improve their neighborhoods. Most of the people I attended high school with thought success meant moving out of Somerville. My wife and I wanted to stay and raise our children in the city, but we had to take our first child to another town to find playgrounds where the swings were not broken and the ground not littered with shards of glass. I ran for the City Council to advocate for some of the public goods that wealthier communities take for granted such as safe and welcoming parks and playgrounds.
2) Almost all people experience 'peer pressure'--whether it be at school or work. Do you ever feel pressure from other congressmen to vote in favor or against certain bills?
I often feel pressure. My job is to distinguish between informed advocacy from constituents or colleagues who may help me understand an issue better, and pressure that doesn’t really do anything to educate me or present thoughtful arguments that may change my mind.
3) I would like to ask you some questions on American foreign policy. Do you believe it is right that the United States pushes Israel to release Palestinian prisoners who have committed violent crimes against innocent Israelis?
Decisions about the security of Israel must be made by the democratically elected government of Israel. That said, those who advocate violence early in their lives may mature into responsible leaders. One thinks of Menachem Begin. Hard decisions must often be made in resolving longstanding conflicts. The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland chose to include persons both governments deeply mistrusted in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Accords.
5) Do you agree with President Obama's previous statement that Israel should go back to its pre-Six-Day-War (1967) borders?
I would prefer an approach that spoke of the 1967 border AND landswaps. Most peace proposals for the past decade at least have envisioned incorporating some West Bank settlements into Israel with territory elsewhere given to the Palestinian Authority
6) Do you believe that Jerusalem--both east and west--should be the capital of Israel?
City boundaries are not fixed. Cities grow and their suburbs do also. I can imagine a solution, as part of a comprehensive peace settlement, that permitted both Israel and a future Palestinian state to have their capital in “Jerusalem.”
7) In your view, are the United States and Europe letting Iran off the hook by agreeing to ease sanctions considerably in return for Iran temporarily reducing its uranium enrichment?
I have supported negotiations with Iran, with all options still on the table. I am unalterably opposed to a nuclear-armed Iran. No nation, I fear, is more likely to share nuclear weapons with non-state actors, terrorist proxies.
8) Provided Iran does not agree to completely dismantle its nuclear program, at what point in the discussions with Iran, Mr. Congressman, do you think the United States should revert to using military force?
I see force as a last resort and it is premature at this time to say when the talking should end.
9) Representative Capuano, now that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to form a unity government with Hamas, a designated terrorist organization by the U.S. and E.U., do you believe the US should cut funding to the PA?
Fatah and Hamas have announced they are attempting to form a unity government. This projected alliance demands close scrutiny and an ongoing review of our options. If, for example, the new alliance tolerates continued attacks from Gaza, the Palestinian Authority cannot claim it is not responsible and we should rethink our policy toward it, including aid. If the alliance results in an entity that can commit both the West Bank and Gaza to peace with Israel, that would be an improvement on the situation today. We must be watchful and vigilant but we need not pre-judge the results.