WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish Democrats slammed U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) for a vituperative e-mail he sent to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
Meanwhile, a pro-Israel PAC raised funds for Wasserman Shultz, also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, based on the attack, while West also is using the exchange to fundraise.
West e-mailed Wasserman Schultz after she chided him on the House of Representatives floor on Tuesday for backing a plan that she said would increase costs for elderly Medicare recipients in their adjacent districts.
"Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me," he said in an e-mail obtained by a number of news outlets. "Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district! You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!"
The National Jewish Democratic Council, where Wasserman Schultz launched her career, blasted West for his "hostile tone and belligerent language."
In a statement, the NJDC said that West’s declaration that Wasserman Schultz is "’not a Lady’ and will not be ‘afforded due respect’ confirms yet again that West has a problem with progressive women. American Jews overwhelmingly support women’s rights and have nothing but tremendous respect for Debbie and all that she’s accomplished."
JACPAC, a Jewish political action committee that focuses on Israel and reproductive rights, launched a fundraiser based on the attack.
"Our best response is to make sure friends like DWS are re-elected and foes like West are defeated," the PAC said in its appeal. "People like West who resort to personal attacks, rather than disagree respectfully with their colleagues, demean the institution in which they serve. The government they denigrate is not their punching bag. It is us!"
JACPAC mostly backs Democrats, although it has also supported moderate pro-Israel Republicans.
Other Democrats have rallied to Wasserman Schultz’s defense, and a number of fundraisers have been launched based on West’s attack. West says he will not apologize, and told Jewish conservative radio host Mark Levin that he is being targeted because he is a black conservative.
Both lawmakers are seen as pro-Israel stalwarts; the Republican Jewish Coalition championed West last year when he ousted the Democratic incumbent, Ron Klein.