by Mik Moore, JSpot • July 26th, 2006
There has been considerable buzz, particularly among Jewish bloggers, about the accusation by some in the Lieberman camp that anti-semitism is driving support for Ned Lamont.
[According to] Dan Gerstein, a political consultant and informal advisor to the Lieberman campaign, “A lot more Jews voted for Bush than in 2000; it’s a reflection of weakened support among Democrats for Israel and the war on terror.
Mr. Gerstein says he has detected what he calls a “growing strain of anti-Semitism on the far left, which he believes is in part fueling the strident opposition to Mr. Lieberman.
Regardless of who you support in this campaign, it is important to recognize how this accusation of antisemitism by the Lieberman camp could do lasting damage to the Democratic party, and Jewish Dems in particular.
Just as I believe Barack Obama was reinforcing conservative talking points when he said that Democrats should lay off God in the pledge (a true red herring), the accusation that liberal support for Lamont is motivated by anti-semitism has a similar effect: it lends undue credence to an accusation usually made by Republicans. In the fight between the parties over Jewish electoral and financial support, allegations of anti-semitism on the left have been a primary scare tactic used to peel Jews away from their support for Democratic candidates in federal elections.
Yes, there are surely some who oppose Lieberman and support Lamont who are antisemites and are motivated by anti-semitism. Left-wing anti-semitism is real. But the significance of this miniscule minority is being blown all out of proportion for short term electoral gain. Unfortunately, the impact of these exaggerations will be felt long after election day.
The Anti-Defamation League remains unquestionably the leading authority on domestic antisemitism. To get a snapshot of anti-semitism today, visit their website. With the exception of a few on the far left, anti-semitism in America remains a right-wing phenomenon. Neo-nazis, klan members, militias, anti-immigrant vigilantes, Pat Buchanan: all are politically on the far right, not the far left. [As other bloggers have noted, the most vicious act of anti-semitism this year was perpetrated by conservative Christians.] Certain conservatives have spent a good deal of time trying to obscure right-wing anti-semitism by overhyping left-wing anti-semitism. It is dismaying to see Democratic supporters of Joe Lieberman joining this offensive.
A politically mature Jewish community and a robust Democratic party must be able to engage in a primary on the merits, without accusations of anti-semitism being thrown around so blithely. If this keeps up, the folks who will suffer the most are Jewish Democrats.
Update: Today’s NYTimes has an article about the Jewish vote in the Lieberman/Lamont race. In it, Dan Gerstein raises his previous critique a notch, this time pointing a finger directly at the Democratic party.
“There’s a small but vocal pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel and perhaps anti-Semitic faction of the Democratic Party,’’ said Dan Gerstein, a former Lieberman aide and informal adviser to the campaign. “It is a small minority but it is getting bolder, and even worse. There is a growing tolerance of it in the progressive community.
As someone who has seen piles of campaign lit targeting Jews, I would be shocked if that quote isn’t used against Dems in the future. All this to skim off a few Jewish votes for Lieberman…