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GOP Jews, Koch Weigh In on Post-Weiner Race

Weprin-Turner in overdrive

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Sen. Joe Lieberman and Assemblyman David Weprin.(New York 1)

We’re less than a week from next Tuesday’s special election to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner, and the race, which pits the Orthodox Jewish Democrat David Weprin against the non-Jewish Republican Bob Turner—but which Ed Koch turned into a referendum on the Obama administration’s Israel policy, calling on Democrats to vote for Turner in order to send the president a message—has taken on all the weird trappings you might expect of a competition to fill a seat that will likely soon no longer exist (due to census-prompted redistricting). For the definitive take on the dynamics of the race, including stuff that’s (gasp!) not explicitly Jewish, check out Dana Rubinstein in Capital. Then, of course, there’s the juicy shtetl stuff.

For starters, Koch himself took to the Letters to the Editor page to defend himself against a Times editorial endorsing Weprin. In calling for negotiations based on the 1967 borders with “swaps”—the scare quotes are his—Obama, Hizzoner argues, “should have demanded simultaneously that Hamas renounce terrorism before negotiations begin, and that Hamas amend its charter.” Fair. Also: “Israel must have defensible borders, and the homes of the 500,000 Jews beyond those lines in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank must remain part of Israel.” Dude, what do you think the “swaps” are for?

The Republican Jewish Coalition has gotten involved, sending mailers with Holocaust survivors. Weprin, who has raised much more money than Turner, is fighting back with TV spots. The Jewish Press, influential in the community, endorsed Weprin, on the grounds that he is himself Jewish, himself staunchly pro-Israel, and good for the community. Yet Democratic assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is especially influential among Queens and Brooklyn Jews, endorsed Turner; and yet he made that decision not because of the Israel stuff but because, as an assemblyman, Weprin supported the gay marriage law.

The RJC’s tack, of going after the Jewish Democrat who has been critical of Obama on Israel from the right and trying to install the non-Jewish Republican who has been critical of Obama on Israel from the right, provides a striking contrast with the Emergency Committee for Israel’s new ad campaign. ECI, which differs from the RJC in being a Republican Jewish group in name only, cleverly praises Weprin’s Jewish and Israel bona fides—even taking care to show Weprin in his kippah—as part of a broader effort to paint Obama as out-of-step on Israel even with his own party.

To me, ECI’s is the smarter play. The RJC is short-sightedly concentrating on one irrelevant—one might even call it fakarkte—district (and I mean no insult to its denizens; my district is no less fakarkte than theirs, it too is just one out of 435), when they could be making the much larger statement ECI is. If the race is truly to be about Obama on Israel, then truly make it about Obama on Israel! And I moreover suspect that, next year, when the Republican nominee is hammering Obama on Israel because it’s the most potent national-security issue, it will be rather nice to show an actual Democratic congressman saying much the same things about the leader of his party.

Welcome to NY-9, and an Endangered Special Election for an Endangered Congressional Seat [Capital]
A Signal from Koch [NYT Letters to the Editor]
Jewish GOP Group Diving into NY-9 [Ben Smith]
Jewish Press Endorses Weprin [Jewish Press/Vos Iz Neias?]
NY Assemblyman Hikind Crosses Party Lines to Back Republican Turner [The Hill/Vos Iz Neias?]
Earlier: Is Obama Vulnerable on the Israel Issue?
Lieberman Backs Dem Against Koch’s Guy
Perry’s Ascent Heralds Israel’s Rise as an Issue

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Ellis Jayus says:

Much ado about nothing…the Orthodox Jewish population is such a tiny percentage of 1) Jewish voters and 2) the total voting populus that their stance is more one of self-aggrandizement. Most of the Jewish voters are unabashedly liberal and consider other issues besides Israel when they cast their ballots. The next national election will be about jobs and the economy; if the GOP continues to block the President’s programs, it will be a test of Obama calling out the Repubs vs. Mitt-Rick-Michelle-Sarah saying they have better ideas (we’ve been waiting on those for 3 years).

On the national scene, the esteemed Jewish congressman from Virginia has just added some non-sectarian fuel to the economic maelstrom. In November 2012, will those in need of aid from the latest hurricane remember Mr. Cantor telling them they can only have help if the Democrats are willing to cut an equivalent amount from the budget? How would New Yorkers of all political and religious persuasions respond if Mr. Cantor in 2001 had issued the same proclamation for victims of 9/11? In the face of our problems right here in the USA, Israel is but a tiny dot on the electoral map…maybe only in NY’s 9th District.

Michael Liebowitz says:

So I guess it’s naive of me to think a candidate would be supported based on his capabilities instead of something as inconsequential as gay marriage. What’s next? Preference in sports teams?

Salomon Mizrahi says:

I don´t trust Liberal (aka leftist) Jews!

i DON’T TRUST extremist, right-wing, tea-party-type people, whether they be JEWISH or not…. the position of salomon is what is destroying this once magnificent country… god help us!

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GOP Jews, Koch Weigh In on Post-Weiner Race

Weprin-Turner in overdrive

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