An ugly new development in American politics: Muslim voters lining up to defeat a Jewish candidate. “Jersey Roar: Democratic House primary turns into ethnic proxy war over Israel,” by Adam Kredo in the Washington Free Beacon, June 1 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
A Democratic primary race in northern New Jersey has devolved into a highly competitive proxy war over Israel, pitting the state’s pro-Israel community against a growing constituency of Arab voters who have accused a sitting congressman of putting Israel’s interests before America’s.
As the race between Democratic Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell nears its Tuesday finish, veteran political observers on the ground have expressed concern at the way the battle between the two veteran lawmakers has transformed into a troubling ethnic brawl.
“One side says, “˜We want this Jew out of office” and, frankly, it’s pretty unsettling,” Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee based in Englewood Cliffs, told the Free Beacon. “They emphasized [Rothman] is a Jewish congressman.”
Others say they simply cannot recall a congressional race becoming a referendum on a candidate’s religion.
“For the first time in recent American political history, we are witnessing a proxy battle between supporters and detractors of Israel, and it’s playing out in the Ninth District of New Jersey,” said one veteran campaign strategist who is knowledgeable about the district.
The race took an unprecedented turn on Monday when an Arabic campaign poster supporting Pascrell surfaced. It urged the “Arab diaspora community” to “elect the friend of the Arabs” and billed the race as “the most important election in the history of the [Arab] community,” according to a WFB translation of the sign.
“I don’t read Arabic well, but I am pretty sure that the pro-Pascrell posters that have appeared across the district are not calling to elect the candidate who supports a strong relationship between America and the only democracy in the Middle East, one which is rooted in progressive Western values””women’s rights, gay rights, tolerance, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc.,” said Josh Block, a Democratic strategist and former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Observers such as Susan Rosenbluth, publisher of the New Jersey-based Jewish Voice and Opinion, say the race took an anti-Semitic turn in late February, when a prominent Arab supporter of Pascrell accused the state’s Jewish voters of being more loyal to Israel than America.
“Unquestionably, this primary election is pitting two otherwise harmoniously coexisting communities: the Muslim and Jewish communities,” Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, wrote in a New Jersey Star-Ledger column headlined “Rothman is Israel’s man in District 9.”
“As total and blind support for Israel becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s,” Assaf wrote.
The canard””reminiscent of the “Israel firster” controversy that has engulfed the left-wing Center for American Progress Action Fund and Media Matters for America””reverberated through the tight-knit Jewish community, raising alarm among pro-Israel stalwarts.
“A number of Arab-American constituents have come out with outrageous attacks on Rothman,” said Rosenbluth, whose newspaper is based in Englewood. “I haven’t heard a dual loyalty charge for years.”
At that point, things really “started to get ugly,” said NORPAC”s Chouake, explaining that “for the pro-Israel community, it’s not about Jewish or not-Jewish or helping an ethnic culture, but about believing there should be a homeland for a people oppressed and slaughtered for 2,000 years.”
“It’s a little bit scary,” said Chouake, who noted that massive voter registration drives in the Arab community have added at least 6,000 new names to the rolls. Some of those registrations have been disputed….
Oh, I’m sure they are as genuine as the day is long.