“DEMOCRATS NOMINATE VIRULENT ANTI-SEMITE IN THE FIFTH DISTRICT” ~VA GOP Press Release

Following is the first paragraph of the VA GOP’s press release:

May 5, 2018   Richmond, VA – Today, the Democrat Party of Virginia nominated Leslie Cockburn to run against Republican incumbent Tom Garrett in Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. Cockburn has a long history of anti-Semitic rhetoric which can be documented over at least the past 25 years. In the early 1990s, Cockburn co-authored Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship. Cockburn’s book advocated for the inherently anti-Semitic belief that Israel controls America’s foreign policy.

To read the entire release:

http://virginia.gop/democrats-nominate-virulent-anti-semite-fifth-district/

 

ANTI-SEMITISM INFECTS VIRGINIA POLITICS

By Jim McCarthy and Michael Fruitman, voxfairfax.com

The headline in the GOPV [Republican Party of Virginia] press release literally shouts a “virulent anti-Semite” Democratic candidate in the Fifth Congressional District. Virulent, of course, is defined as toxic or poisonous, meaning the individual is a carrier of the infection. While most recoil at the use of such rhetoric, even in political campaigns, the GOP appears to be without qualms in this regard. The allegation is in reference to a book authored by Leslie Cockburn, the Democratic candidate, which criticizes US and Israeli covert operations. To make matters worse, the Grand Old Party of Virginia fails to offer a single citation from the volume demonstrating the allegation of anti-Semitism; yet it further alleges that Cockburn’s bias “can be documented over at least the last 25 years!!! The headline also claims condemnation of Cockburn by “Jewish Republican Leaders” without naming any.   [See our posting below from Blue Virginia].

In some measure, the party of Lincoln is relying upon the poor memory of the electorate to create a “safe harbor” from which to launch such deadly missiles. In the fog of history, way back in 2012, Eric Cantor was involved in a dust-up with GOP colleagues regarding allegations of anti-Semitism, motivating a sizable campaign contribution to one Illinois candidate who was running against another who had allegedly disparaged Cantor’s religion.

Even farther back in history—1993—William F. Buckley dedicated two full issues of the National Review to countering the views and statements of Pat Buchanan, contending for the GOP presidential nomination, for Buchanan’s characterizations of “what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on.” Buckley concluded:

I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said amounted to anti-Semitism.

This is also the same GOP that declined to field a candidate to oppose a Holocaust denier for a congressional seat in Illinois. The same GOP that was virtually speechless when the neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Where, oh where, is Republican outrage when anti-Semitism emerges from the right?

In March 2017 a Quinnipiac poll found that 87% of Democrats believed that US anti-Semitism was a very serious or somewhat serious issue while, in contrast, 53% of Republicans held that opinion. At the same time, 45% of Republicans thought anti-Semitism was not a serious problem, compared with only 8% of Democrats. Two months earlier, a Pew poll reported that 74% of Republicans were sympathetic to Israel and 11% toward Palestine. Democrats were nearly even on the question, with 33% sympathetic to Israel and 31% to Palestine. Some observers attribute the metamorphosis from Pat Buchanan to the contemporary views of the GOP to the greatly increased influence of Christian evangelicals but especially the religious link of Christian Zionism to the unfolding of the “end times,” or second coming, or the rapture. This prophecy posits that the present “pseudo secular” state of Israel will be restored and redeemed, consisting only of Jews reborn into the Biblical traditions. It is not clear that GOP leadership has taken the time to appreciate the path that the Christian Zionists have paved with respect to a relationship with Israel. This passage is excerpted from Endtimestruth.com:

Although Israel may acknowledge the importance of the political and financial support from the worldwide Christian community, they are blatantly anti-Christ in terms of believing that Jesus is the Messiah.

In this religious nirvana, Jews will follow Christ while all others will perish. A condition for this end times event is the repentance of the Jews by accepting Christ and the restoration of the Holy Land—Israel—to a unified geographical entity without Judaism. Whatever the extent of this religious fabric within the GOP and its current attempt at symbiosis with Israel, it is frightening. More frightening in light of the accusation of virulent anti-Semitism against a Democrat and the history and poll results all to the contrary.

It is not difficult to see that the GOPV press release contains absolutely no evidence, or words of the anti-Semitism of the accused Democrat. The quotation and reference make no mention of anti-Semitism or even anti-Zionism. If it is a mere act of desperation or pure maliciousness, what does it say about the GOPV? The failure to provide evidence of anti-Semitism only buttresses the party’s failure to clarify for its adherents the distinctions and differences between anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and criticism of Israeli policies. It’s the same type of slick behavior underlying the refusal to apologize to Senator John McCain, Representative Maxine Waters, the Khan family, Mexicans, Muslims, BLM, Native Americans, and so many others. And it is but another example of the GOP infecting politics and political dialogue with its own strain of virulent toxins..

 

Reposted, with permission, from Blue Virginia, May 9, 2018:

We Read Andrew and Leslie Cockburn’s Book on the US-Israeli Intelligence Relationship. It’s Not Anti-Semitic in the Slightest

By Lowell Feld and David T.S. Jonas

When we first heard allegations that VA-05 Democratic Congressional nominee Leslie Cockburn had written a book (Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship) in the early 1990’s that supposedly contained anti-Semitic passages, the two of us had the same reaction: we needed to read the book and find out for ourselves if it was true. Of course, we both feel strongly that anti-Semitism has no place in our politics, no matter from what side of the aisle. And of course, we were both prepared to speak out forcefully about whatever we found in Cockburn’s book.

Please note that we each looked into this independently of one another and without any coordination (and without any prodding or encouragement from the Cockburn campaign). Only when we started e-mailing each other on the topic in the past few days, and found out we had both read the book, did we start to discuss our findings. We found ourselves agreeing on practically everything.

And that’s why we can say in full confidence—having been the apparently rare people in Virginia politics to have actually read the whole book—that not a single passage attributable to Andrew or Leslie Cockburn in “Dangerous Liaison” is even remotely anti-Semitic.

Let us repeat that: not one passage. Full stop. No hedges. And even for a sprawling book concerning often-secretive US-Israeli military and intelligence actions, it doesn’t engage in the type of unfounded conspiracy-making about Jews that is the real fodder of so much actual anti-Semitism.

That’s what our honest assessment of this book shows. The charges of anti-Semitism are completely unfounded, without evidence, and should be dismissed without hesitation.

***

A quick word on where we’re coming from. Lowell was raised Jewish, has a Master’s Degree in Middle Eastern Studies and even lived/studied in Israel for six months. David’s grandfather fought in the 1948 War of Israeli Independence (his wife’s brother died in combat during that war) and David still has family living in Israel today. We each take anti-Semitism extremely seriously and have been horrified at the rise of anti-Jewish bigotry in America, as epitomized by the white supremacist marches–with their disgusting chants of “Jews will not replace us!”–and terrorist attacks in Charlottesville.

By the way, not only were our independent assessments on the lack of anti-Semitism in the book the same, our independent criticisms of the book were largely the same, too. For instance, the writing can be too sensationalist at times, making it seem like the authors are pushing too hard, rather than letting readers come to their own decisions. The authors have a bad tendency of writing, “it has been reported…”, in the passive voice, instead of saying who did the reporting. The sourcing of quotes and details about events can be tricky to follow, as too many citations get jammed into a single endnote. And perhaps most critically, the book hops from event to event and character to character so quickly that it can be very tricky to follow the narrative.

But as you’ll note, those are mostly academic criticisms—nowhere near the absurd, over-the-top cries of anti-Semitism that Virginia Republicans have been spreading about Leslie Cockburn these past few weeks. Clearly, Republicans must be very worried about Cockburn’s candidacy for them to stoop to this level.

By the way, we suspect that the complete lack of anti-Semitism in the book is exactly why no one has yet directly quoted the book itself in making the case that the authors are anti-Semites. Instead, note that the Virginia GOP has only quoted reviews of the book – mostly by right wing sources, such as this one in Commentary, by a character named Angelo Codevilla (who, among other things, said “The story of the [Jonathan] Pollard [spying] case is a blot on American justice,” and that “the life sentence ‘makes you ashamed to be an American.’”) – and people who claim to be offended by the book. One bizarre example is the citation of an Amazon review (with a “quote” that’s not even in the book) from one “Rafael Eitan.” Had those citing Eitan read the Cockburns’ book, they would have learned that Rafael Eitan was a major Israeli military/intelligence figure who is heavily criticized in the book— and who had died ten years before that Amazon review was posted. It was a crank account, apparently. A few highlights from Eitan’s career, by the way, include: being found “in breach of duty that was incumbent on the Chief of Staff” for his role in the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian civilians; “established an ultra-nationalist party called Tzomet“; “was a supporter of the Israeli alliance with Apartheid-era South Africa”; etc.

If you have any doubts about our analysis, we have one simple ask: go read the book yourself. You don’t even need to read the whole thing. Even 30 minutes of your time will show you that, yes, this book certainly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the individual Israelis, Americans, and other key actors at the heart of the long history of the US-Israeli intelligence relationship. But it in no way, shape, or form engages in the kind of evil and pernicious stereotyping, demagoguing, and conspiracy theorizing that infects so much our politics, particularly on the far right.

At a time when American Nazism is on the rise and literally has cost Virginians their lives, we don’t have the luxury to simply let these bad-faith charges go unanswered. There is a real and present danger facing American Jews, and it’s not coming from authors of a book that no one has actually shown contains anti-Semitic passages.

To be clear, there is only one candidate running in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District who we feel has failed to show the urgency and moral courage to—by word and deed—reject the kind of American Nazism that is festering in Virginia and throughout the country. We don’t accuse this candidate of anti-Semitism, but of simply not doing enough to protect American Jews from planned and organized campaigns of real and threatened violence against them. We had hoped that a terrorist attack, partly inspired by hatred of Jews and other religious and racial minorities, in his own district would have spurred this candidate into action, beyond tokenistic statements and resolutions, but that has not been the case. Instead, this candidate continues to side with a President who seems to think that white supremacists are “very fine people,” and who has blamed anti-Semitic attacks on Jews themselves.

So, in the end, there is only one candidate in the VA-05 race we lack faith in to take seriously the ongoing threat of anti-Semitic terror and hate in Virginia and throughout the country. And that candidate is Rep. Tom Garrett (R).

With that, we urge voters in Virginia’s 5th CD who consider themselves allies to Jews in Virginia and throughout the country to go out and discover the truth for themselves: that these charges against Leslie Cockburn are false, made in bad faith, and should be dismissed for not even meeting the lowest bar of evidence to support them.



Categories: Book Review, Issues, National

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