Earlier this month, Assemblywoman Grace Meng, the Democratic candidate for New York’s 6th Congressional District, penned an op-ed in the Jewish Week outlining agreements and disagreements with President Barack Obama on his policies towards Israel, while simultaneously taking some shots at her Republican opponent, Councilman Dan Halloran, for his support for the non-interventionist Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.
Mr. Halloran’s campaign, naturally, had some choice words for that, declaring, “There are serious issues at stake here that a ghostwritten, waffling op-ed does not address.”
But the back-and-forth on the Holy Land didn’t stop there. Not even close.
the holy land
Councilman Dan Halloran, running for congress in a Democratic district that he hopes will become competitive with the help of northeastern Queens’ various Jewish constituencies, is back from last week’s trip to Israel and pointed to his “eye-opening experience” and the support he received there in a press release sent out this morning.
“Just like Americans, the Jewish people may build and live wherever they want,” he declared in the statement. “All free people have the right to live where they choose. I fully support Israel and the settlement in Judea and Samaria. I will never forget what I learned, saw and experienced on my trip to Israel. And when I am in Congress, I will be Israel’s most devoted advocate. The United States needs a secure, free Israel to make this world safer for all freedom-loving nations.”
State Senator David Storobin is in Israel, and he’s doing more than tasting the falafel.
“Senator David Storobin (R-Brooklyn, on the left) today visited with General Shmulik Olansky (center), a 3-star general in charge of the Golan Heights Armor Division, directly on the Syrian border in a hostile region,” read a morning press release accompanying the photo on the left, featuring Mr. Storobin holding a military rifle. “The Senator is on an official state visit approved by the Defense Minister of Israel. To the right is the Senator’s Chief of Staff, Paul Gullo.”
next year in jerusalem
Yesterday morning, GOP Councilman Dan Halloran, a candidate for Congress against Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng, declared he was hopping on a plane to Israel this weekend. What’s more, he blasted the entire Democratic Party for failing to properly nurture a proper U.S.-Israeli relationship.
“Our president is not a real ally of Israel’s,” he declared. “Our president’s party, the Democratic Party, is not a real ally of Israel’s. They think Israel needs to apologize for defending herself. They think that we should apologize for standing with Israel.”
Well, unsurprisingly, Ms. Meng doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with him on that view and, yesterday evening, the Jewish Week published an op-ed by her entitled, “Where I Agree And Disagree With President Obama On Israel.”
emulating mitt romney
State Senator David Storobin and Councilman Dan Halloran are teaming up to travel to the Holy Land. The two Republican officials, who are both competing in areas where the observant Jewish vote is critical to their electoral coalition, are set to leave over the weekend and return at different points next week.
“The Jewish people have a right to build and live wherever they want,” Mr. Halloran, a candidate for Congress, said in a statement. “Our president is not a real ally of Israel’s. Our president’s party, the Democratic Party, is not a real ally of Israel’s. They think Israel needs to apologize for defending herself. They think that we should apologize for standing with Israel.”
This afternoon the Obama campaign held a conference call to highlight the high-profile controversies that occurred during Mitt Romney’s recent world tour. On the call, Obama For America senior advisor and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Colin Kahl suggested Mr. Romney failed “the commander in chief test” when he angered British politicians by questioning London’s readiness for the Olympic Games and when he upset Palestinians by saying the “power” of “culture” could explain the economic disparities between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“He both offended our closest ally and triggered a troubling reaction in the most sensitive region of the world,” said Mr. Gibbs. “He certainly didn’t prove to anyone that he passed the commander in chief test.”
Mr. Kahl suggested the gaffes on this trip showed Mr. Romney isn’t ready to deal with “our enemies.”
“If Romney can’t handle our special relationship with the British…what’s going to happen when he has to deal with our enemies or has to deal with really tough situations?” Mr. Kahl asked. “It’s not that Romney struck out against a major league pitcher. I mean, here he struck out playing tee ball. This should have been easy and it wasnt for him, apparently.”
Even though it is heavily African-American, the newly reconfigured 8th Congressional District that Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Councilman Charles Barron are competing for includes some neighborhoods that contain concentrated Russian Jewish communities. And some of the activists in these neighborhoods are rather uncomfortable with Mr. Barron’s anti-Zionist advocacy and support for African dictators, so they held a press conference yesterday evening to urge their neighbors to turn out to vote for Mr. Jeffries.
“Our goal is to mobilize our community to come out against this vicious, racist anti-Semite and not allow him to come forward,” Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky, one of the lead organizers, explained at the event, which was conducted mostly in Russian.
At a town hall last night in Bed-Stuy, congressional candidates Hakeem Jeffries and Charles Barron gave their pitches and took questions, striking familiar themes: Mr. Jeffries portrayed himself as a serious legislator while Mr. Barron proclaimed his ability to help lead a national movement to change the country.
As the two competitors spoke at different times in different rooms, they never interacted or had the opportunity to have a fiery back-and-forth, as already happened on Inside City Hall. However, both candidates did take identical questions on foreign policy, “especially related around Africa and the Caribbean,” and their responses showed an interesting yet unsurprising divergence.
“This is a very diverse district and so there are going to be different parts of the district that have significant foreign policy interests,” Mr. Jeffries noted, adding that Africa was dear to the heart of many residents in places like Bed-Stuy, the Caribbean was important to Canarsie and Flatlands, and, unprompted, stressed the importance of Israel as well.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman got a nice boost for his congressional campaign yesterday when he received the formal backing of the Jewish Press. The endorsement, which might be the first one from a newspaper in the race, comes as Mr. Lancman is competing against Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Assemblywoman Grace Meng in a Democratic primary for a northeastern Queens Congressional District.
“In an extensive interview with The Jewish Press, Mr. Lancman impressed us as someone we would like to see in Congress voting on issues important to the Jewish community,” the publication wrote about their preferred candidate. “He displayed a deep understanding of the nature of Israel’s struggle with its neighbors and why it’s important, for both Israeli and American interests, that the United States ’tilt’ toward Israel.”
Mayoral candidate Tom Allon took a trip to Israel last week and the journey led him to write several introspective blog posts, send a series of Tweets and give a lengthy interview with the Times of Israel in which he discussed his chances in the mayoral race, his past loves and insulted one of his rivals. Mr. Allon filed his first dispatch from the Holy Land Monday on the Huffington Post.
“When I was a high school student in the late 1970s at Stuyvesant High School in New York, there was a girl in my class, Karimah, who wore a kafia each day, had a lovely voice and was one of the objects of my adolescent fascination,” Mr. Allon began.