Political Points — Donna Edwards and the pound of flesh


I was in the middle of eating a kosher pastrami sandwich. While I was eating it, they come running and they say, ‘Paladino became gay!’ I said, ‘What?’ And then they showed me the statement. I almost choked on the kosher salami.

–Rabbi Yehuda Levin

Welcome to Political Points, where you can choke on kosher politics by 10:30 a.m., from now until Election Day.

**It looks like J Street’s relationship with its very first endorsee, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), is cooked.

We’ve covered this in the past, but I’ll link only to Adam Kredo’s piece in yesterday’s Washington Jewish Week, because it is comprehensive — and even riveting. In sum: Edwards announced plans to speak at a fundraiser tomorrow night for New Policy, a political action committee affiliated with NewPolicy.org, a group that thinks policy makers should examine a one-state solution as well as a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

J Street’s core is two states, and it effectively warned Edwards that unless she makes that clear in her address, it’s over, done, finito, however else one breaks up.

Adam got this from Edwards, suggesting that Edwards is about to flip the J Street bird:

"As a long-time advocate of a two-state solution and supporter of an engaged peace process in the Middle East, it is disturbing that I am being attacked because I agreed to speak before a group of my constituents about these issues." 

"My position in support of a two-state solution is clear and has always been so; to say or imply otherwise is simply incorrect," the statement continued. "As a member of Congress representing people with a wide range of viewpoints on these and other issues, I do not agree always with some individuals or organizations with whom I meet. Nonetheless, it is critical for me to maintain an opportunity for open debate and discussion."

Edwards’ statement went on to emphasize that "it is ridiculous to insinuate that my engaging in a discussion or speaking before an organization, or even being supported by an organization or individual, is an endorsement of a particular position or of all the viewpoints or positions espoused by an organization or individual." 

Of course, J Street has not attacked Edwards at all, and has made clear that she is welcome to meet whomever she likes; but, just like the NRA would expect one of its congressional champions to make its Second Amendment case in an appearance before the Brady Campaign, J Street expects its star to be adamant about its principle issue when appearing before its ideological opposite. (And New Policy, by flirting with one-stateism, is more J Street’s opposite than AIPAC.)

Edwards, by casting J Street’s caution as an "attack" makes it clear that’s not what she’s intending.

One-stateism can sound benign thousands of miles away from the region. It’s easy to decry national identity when one takes one’s own for granted. It’s easy to make the cultural identities embraced by others sound parochial when one is ensconced comfortably in one’s own parish. (Myself, I kind of like the ring of the United States of Canada.)

Up close, however, the denial of national identity often carries with it not a world modeled on John Lennon’s dreamy imaginings, but the baggage of hatred. "Dismantling" can be a synonym for "destroying."

Consider then that one of NewPolicy.org’s five board members is Allison Weir, who tirelessly blogs in defense of considering the medieval blood libel as explaining current Jewish behavior.

So: Does Weir attend tomorrow night? Does she bring up the usefulness of considering the notion that some medieval Jews baked children’s blood into bread? Does Edwards oppose it, but believe it’s worthy of debate?

**Joel Pollak, hoping to unseat Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) from her suburban Chicago congressional perch, raises money, then J Street, which backs Schakowsky, raises money off of Pollak’s raising money, and then Pollak raises money off of J Street’s raising money off of Pollak’s raising money. 

Got that? It’s like pastrami and salami duking it out in the same sandwich. Or something.

Anyway, Joel, whose campaign bio says he worked on Muslim-Jewish dialogue in South Africa, is speaking today at a mosque, at Masjid Bait-ul Jaam’e in Glen Ellyn, Ill. He’s billing himself as a "pro-Israel" speaker. The mosque’s imam, Inam-ul-Haq Kauser, invited Pollak to speak after meeting him at an event last week.

**Josh Mandel, running for state treasuruer in Ohio, is another Jewish Republican candidate with a fascinating bio — he’s a Marine vet, with two tours in Iraq, currently serving as a state rep.

Unlike Pollak, however, the Mandel campaign’s relation ship with the state’s Muslims is not so salutary.

The Toledo Blade comes close this week to withdrawing its endorsement of Mandel for an ad he ran about his challenger Kevin Boyce.

The ad ostensibly is about corruption: It accuses Boyce of hiring a lobbyist’s wife. The lobbyist happens to be a Muslim, and Mandel’s campaign contends, in the ad, that the job was advertised only in "their mosque." (Boyce denies this.)

Here’s the passage:

And the lobbyist? Boyce gave his wife a sensitive job in the treasurer’s office – a job Boyce admitted they only made available at their mosque.

The Blade and the state’s Democrats say that makes it sound like Boyce, an African American Christian, is a Muslim. At the very least, it’s poorly written.

The ad also refers to the lobbyist as Mohammed Noure Alo, his full name; the lobbyist goes only by Noure Alo. Shades of Barack Hussein Obama, says Salon’s Justin Elliott, who has a comprehensive rundown of the coverage.

Here’s the vid:

**What is it with Illinois and the anti-Semitism charge?

We chided the state’s GOP earlier this week for its gratuitous — not just gratuitous, spurious — use in noting MoveOn.org’s endorsement of the Democratic candidate for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, Alex Giannoulias. MoveOn was, in the case cited in the Illinois GOP blast, more a victim of anti-Semites than anything else, addressed the problem, and got the ADL’s Abe Foxman hechsher.

Now it’s the Dems’ turn, albeit a little less spuriously.

Dan Seals‘ campaign to win the open seat in Illinois’ 10th congressional district — heavily Jewish, north of Chicago — is calling on opponent Bob Dold to renounce support from a third party group, the American Action Network, led by Fred Malek. The email blast focuses on AAN’s refusal to list donors.

It also makes much of Malek’s role in the Nixon administration in purging Jewish statisticians from the Labor Department, and notes that archived documents released this year show Malek’s involvement was deeper than he previously acknowledged. (Nixon, paranoid anti-Semite that he was, was convinced the Jewish staffers were making unemployment figures look worse than they were.)

The American Action Network (AAN) is a Republican front group chaired by Frederic Malek, who has recently come under fire for lying about his significant role in identifying and removing Jewish Americans from government jobs in the Nixon Administration.

The evidence released this year suggests that Malek was a bigger coward than he previously admitted to being — which, I guess, kind of compounds the cowardice.

But Malek has repeatedly apologized and has tried to make amends (he, too, has Foxman’s hecsher), and the Seals e-blast fails to note that. 

**We’re keeping our name for the moment, but we’ll definitely play with some of the other offerings. Email me tips, ideas, links: rkampeas@jta.org

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