By Norm Coleman and Matthew Brooks
In a recent op-ed, two leaders of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, Ron Klein and Dan Berger, accused Republicans of failing to oppose neo-Nazis who have run for office this year under a stolen GOP banner. That is a lie. National and state Republican parties — and the Republican Jewish Coalition — have forcefully rejected and renounced such candidates.
To offer just one example out of many, when avowed neo-Nazi Arthur Jones put his name on the ballot for Congress at the last minute in Illinois’ third district and became the Republican nominee by default, the Illinois GOP chairman said his party has “no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones.” Illinois’ Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, tweeted that voters should “vote for anybody but Arthur Jones.” And the Republican Jewish Coalition flatly rejected Jones, saying, “Jones does not represent Republican values. … There is no place for Nazis and white supremacists in the Republican Party.”
That sounds pretty straightforward. Nazi ideology and its supporters, including white supremacists, have no place in the Republican Party.
But the real chutzpah in Klein and Berger’s op-ed is this passage: “At some point, we must all put country above party. We can argue about exactly where the line should be drawn, but is there any doubt that wherever the line is drawn, racists and anti-Semites are on the wrong side of that line?”
We agree — racists and anti-Semites are on the wrong side of the line. And they include these key Democratic candidates in 2018, to name a few:
- Democratic National Committee deputy chairman Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who is now running for state attorney general, continues to lie about his association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Ellison claims that after working for Farrakhan in the 1990s, he severed his ties with the anti-Semitic demagogue. But photos show him meeting with Farrakhan as recently as 2015.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrat running for Congress in New York’s 14th district, is a proud member of Democratic Socialists of America. She calls Israel the “occupier” of Palestine and tweeted that Israel’s self-defense against rioters at the Gaza border last May was “a massacre.”
- Rashida Tlaib, the Democratic candidate in Michigan’s 13th district, said in an interview that she would “absolutely” slash military aid to Israel and “will be using my position in Congress so that no country, not one, should be able to get aid from the U.S. when they still promote that kind of injustice.”
- Ilhan Omar, the Democratic candidate in Minnesota’s 5th district (the seat being vacated by Keith Ellison), has called Israel an “apartheid regime” and tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
- Scott Wallace, the Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania’s 1st district, led a family foundation that gave $300,000 to groups that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
- Leslie Cockburn, the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s fifth district, co-wrote a 1991 book about Israel that The New York Times panned as “largely dedicated to Israel-bashing for its own sake.”
Klein and Berger acknowledge that “both parties have members and candidates at the fringes who do not come close to representing the mainstream on certain issues.” But here’s the crux of the issue: On the GOP side, the fringe candidates are small-time nuisances, who either didn’t make it through the primary process or are in districts with such overwhelming Democratic majorities that no Republican could conceivably win the seat.
On the Democratic side, the most anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and bigoted candidates sailed through the primary process to win their party’s nomination in races they are favored to win, in districts that are overwhelmingly Democrat. They are fawned over and lauded as the “future of the Democratic Party,” as Ocasio-Cortez was referred to by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez. These anti-Israel progressives are not considered “fringe” candidates among Democrats — they are the new mainstream of the party. What does that say about the Democratic Party in 2018?
Elliott Abrams, a man who left the Democrats decades ago, recently said: “Fringe candidates deserve attention because their views help determine just what is acceptable and what is fringe. Their views should be denounced by party leaders lest they start becoming acceptable. … There is a real possibility that in 10 years the Democratic Party will no longer be a strongly pro-Israel party. Democratic Party leaders should be working hard right now on this problem.”
Republicans have been clear and unequivocal in rejecting the fringe candidates who try to wave the GOP banner. Jewish Democrats should put country above party themselves and do something about the new “mainstream” in their party, the anti-Israel progressive left. l
Norm Coleman is a former U.S. senator from Minnesota and is the national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Matthew Brooks is the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.