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The chairman of the Democratic National Committee compared Barack Obama to Ariel Sharon.

“Much as the United States needs the strong leadership Barack Obama gives us, Ariel Sharon turned out to be a strong leader,” Howard Dean said during a speech to the National Jewish Democratic Council on Wednesday.

Recalling a trip he took to the Jewish state just after Israel had pulled out of Gaza, Dean said: “In Israel and America, strong leaders make peace. Only leaders who have the confidence to do what’s right, to make concessions if necessary” and “only leaders with strong self-confidence can do the things that need to be done.”

Dean also criticized the Republican Jewish Coalition’s anti-Obama literature, calling it “despicable stuff” and telling the crowd that “you are the folks that can counteract” what he called “hate-based propaganda.”

Much of Dean’s speech was devoted to making the argument that the proper home for Jewish voters is the Democratic Party. He said the “core of the relationship” between Democrats and Jews goes beyond just support for Israel to shared “humanitarian values.”

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