What about the economy, jobs, the environment, reaffirming the rights of workers, preventing NY jobs from going overseas? Nope, none of that matters apparently.
The special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s vacated congressional seat has turned into a contest of who can love Israel more, complete with some good old-fashioned racial/religious politics and Islamophobia:
In the special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s vacant New York congressional seat, the Republican candidate, Bob Turner, is out with a new ad attacking Democrat David Weprin on the “ground zero mosque” — a full year after the controversy over that project
…Why is the Turner campaign harping on such an old issue at this particular moment? Even Park51’s developer recently acknowledged that the project — a generous term, as it’s more of an idea at this point — is at least five years away from any sort of construction; in real world terms, that means it may well never be built.
The real explanation for the ad can be found in the demographics of the district and the dynamic of the Turner-Weprin race up to this point.
According to a recent Siena poll, 29 percent of likely voters in the Brooklyn/Queens-based 9th District, are Jewish. Turnout is always low in special elections, and that means the sizable and tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community has been a “high-value target of both campaigns,” WNYC recently reported.
Much of the campaign up to this point has been about Israel, with Weprin scrambling to assure voters that he opposes President Obama’s perceived slights against the Jewish state (’67 borders, etc.) just as strenuously as Turner. Weprin, for example, has publicly called Obama’s treatment of Benjamin Netanyahu “outrageous.” But his campaign was dealt a blow when former Mayor Ed Koch endorsed Turner, arguing that electing a Republican from New York City would constitute a strong message to Obama about his Israel policies.
Turner’s message seems to be getting traction. A Siena poll this week showed him trailing Weprin by just six points — this in a district where enrolled Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3-1. The poll also showed Weprin winning likely Jewish voters by a 56-35 percent margin. But that’s significantly less than the 78 percent of Jewish voters who cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2008.
Turner’s new ad is clearly designed to reach Jewish voters who are suspicious of both Obama and — the campaign is hoping — Muslims.
Ah yes, the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” But think about it, what does the Mosque That Doesn’t Exist and Probably Never Will have to do with Israel?
Well, it would seem to be a dog-whistle of sorts for Islamophobes. Unfortunately, some people have started to conflate hatred and fear of all things Muslim with being “pro-Israel” and that is disturbing indeed. It would seem to me that this tactic is no less noxious than the infamous Southern Strategy used by some Republicans to appeal to White voters by inflaming fears of African Americans, particularly in Southern states.
Is this really how the Jewish community wants to be viewed? Because while we should not fall into the trap of stereotyping the entire population of American Jews with some of the Jewish NY voters or candidates described in this article, this is becoming a rather common theme- an almost exclusive focus on Israel, successful appeals to Islamophobia and a distrust of the U.S. President for reasons that have little to do with his actual policies at least with respect to the United States. All of the above would seem to play into some rather anti-Semitic tropes about dual loyalty and selective liberalism- human rights are all well and good except if those rights are aimed at Muslims or Arabs and then it somehow negatively impacts Jewish people. That’s illogical.
This kind of thing is also problematic because it plays an obvious role in our nation’s foreign policy. I know nobody wants to say that out-loud for fear of being called anti-Israel or anti-Semitic but lets be honest, there is a reason 81 members of Congress are currently in Israel right now, compliments of an AIPAC shell group.
By the way, if you find the influence of AIPAC to be destructive to your foreign policy, you may want to give your members of Congress a call, particularly if they are on this lobby-funded junket to Israel.