A pro-Obama group of rabbis says recent statements by John McCain and Sarah Palin are “creeping toward hate speech” and blasts the Republican Jewish Coalition for using McCarthyite tactics.
In a statement released Thursday, the group of 562 rabbis states that “increasingly those speaking on behalf of the McCain campaign have been demonizing Senator Obama as not being like us.” As an example, the organization notes that a sherriff recently emphasized Obama’s middle name of Hussein when warming up the crowd, and Palin’s remark that Obama has been “palling around with terrorists.”
The statement goes on to criticize the RJC for putting “forward a list of people known to be hostile to Israel” and then “dishonestly” suggesting that these people shaped Senator Obama’s views on the subject. “The RJC approach harkens back to the classic Republican red baiting tactics of Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon from the early fifties,” stated the group. Here’s the full statement:
Rabbis for Obama Denounce the Hate Speech
The manner in which Senator McCain, Governor Palin and their supporters refer to Senator Obama is creeping toward hate speech. As leaders of the Jewish community we are well aware of the dangers of using inflammatory political language to marginalize individuals and groups. Increasingly those speaking on behalf of the McCain campaign have been demonizing Senator Obama as not being like us.
They recently used a uniformed sheriff to warm up the crowd at a rally by emphasize the senator’s middle name. At another event Senator McCain seemed shocked when one of his supporters stated that Senator Obama was an “Arab.” That false belief is the fruit of the McCain campaign’s emphasizing Senator Obama’s middle name.
Governor Palin’s assertion that Senator Obama pals around with terrorists is a false claim built on three distortions and a lie. In twenty first century America, no word is more emotionally loaded than “terrorist.” Republican operatives who managed to convince American to believe the lie that the government of Iraq was connected to Osama bin Laden, think they can now convince Americans of another big lie, that 1960’s campus radical William Ayers is connected to contemporary terrorists and that he is a close, influential friend of Senator Obama.
Anti-Obama hate speech is not limited to the official McCain Campaign. The Republican Jewish Coalition falsely labels Senator Obama as “reckless on Israel.” They know that in the Jewish community this is the moral equivalent of crying fire in a crowded theater.
The RJC put forward a list of people known to be hostile to Israel and the dishonestly suggests that these people shaped Senator Obama’s views on the subject. The RJC approach harkens back to the classic Republican red baiting tactics of Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon from the early fifties.
562 rabbis would not endorse a candidate who is hostile to Israel. We have put our credibility as rabbis who love Israel on the line to publicly endorse Senator Obama for President because of the smears and lies coming from the other side. We have each individually devoted our lives to providing moral and spiritual leadership to the Jewish community. At this crucial moment in history, we step forward as a group to add our voices to those supporting Senator Obama. Never before in the history of the United States has a group of rabbis come together on this scale to work on behalf on a candidate for president
Jewish tradition teaches us that we should respect those with whom we disagree. Ben Azzi says, “Despise no person” We call upon the McCain campaign to return to a respectful conversation on the issues confronting our society.
Since it founding in June, by Rabbi Steven Bob and Rabbi Sam Gordon, Rabbis for Obama has grown to 562 rabbis nationwide. For additional information contact RabbiBob@RabbisforObama.com.