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MoveOn apologizes for Barron criticism

(JTA) — MoveOn.org has apologized for what it called an "offensive and inflammatory" email blast criticizing the congressional candidacy of New York City Councilman Charles Barron.

"The email was all too reminiscent of the kind of attacks that have been used by our opponents to divide progressives over and over again — white folks from African Americans, Jews from non-Jews, recent immigrants from descendants of immigrants, etc.," Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, wrote in an email apology sent Friday.

The online liberal group was one of many groups and individuals to criticize Barron’s candidacy in advance of the June 26 Democratic primary for New York’s 8th Congressional District. Brooklyn Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries’ handily defeated Barron in the primary in the bid to succeed Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), the 30-year incumbent who is retiring.

MoveOn had received some negative criticism following its email blast.

Barron has expressed support for dictators such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and the late Muammar Khadafy of Libya, and has called Israel a terrorist state.

The original anti-Barron email, signed by MoveOn’s campaign director Daniel Mintz and senior strategist Levana Layendecker, called Barron “one of those people … who don’t belong in elected office.”

“What Barron doesn’t want you to know is that rather than actually trying to fix problems, he’s spent his career specializing in divisive, offensive, and just plain outrageous statements and behavior,” MoveOn wrote.

A number of elected and former elected New York officials — many of them Jewish — spoke out against Barron’s candidacy.

MoveOn had been targeted by Jewish groups in previous elections because of incendiary comments posted to its website. MoveOn officials noted in response that they had quickly scrubbed anti-Semitic references.

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