NEW YORK, Feb. 1 (JTA) Jorg Haider has become another pawn in the battle for New York’s Jewish vote in this year’s Senate race.
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has said she will run for the seat in November’s elections, sent a letter Jan. 28 to Edgar Bronfman, the president of the World Jewish Congress, stating her opposition to the prospect of the Austrian extremist becoming part of the country’s coalition government.
Haider’s Freedom Party did just that Tuesday when it agreed to join the conservative People’s Party in a ruling coalition.
“Mr. Haider’s record of intolerance, extremism and anti-Semitism should be of concern to all of us,” the first lady said in a letter to Bronfman.
The first lady’s campaign has also been criticizing New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for dining at a recent meeting in New York attended by Haider.
“It has been two weeks since the mayor sat on a dais with Jorg Haider. Why hasn’t he condemned him?” asked Howard Wolfson, a campaign spokesman for the first lady.
Giuliani is an undeclared candidate for the seat that is being vacated by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
“The mayor has said had he known of Mr. Haider’s views, he would not have attended the dinner with him,” said Giuliani campaign manager Bruce Teitelbaum, adding that the mayor has said subsequently that Haider and his anti-immigrant party should not be allowed to become part of Austria’s government.
The controversy came soon than after the first lady was criticized for speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. dinner. During that dinner, held at the headquarters of the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Rev. Charles Norris made anti- Semitic comments.
Clinton’s aides, who were quickly told of Norris’ comments by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), passed a note to Clinton, who then criticized anti-Semitism in her speech, The New York Times reported.
Clinton has previously come under attack for her failure in November to immediately denounce Suha Arafat when the Palestinian first lady remarked that Israel has been poisoning Palestinians.