Skip to comments.Jewish Federation Criticized for Cheney Invite
Posted on 05/13/2004 3:45:26 PM PDT by anniegetyourgun
The honor of hosting Vice President Dick Cheney for an "important Middle East policy address" put a local Jewish federation on a collision course with Democrats who wonder why the nonpartisan group would welcome such a blatantly political event.
U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler and Alcee Hastings on Tuesday questioned the purpose of Cheney's scheduled appearance Friday at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, which was organized by the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign.
"Everyone knows how important Florida is to the upcoming election and everyone knows how important the Jewish vote is in the upcoming election," said Fred Turner, a spokesman for Hastings, D-Miramar. "For the federation to allow itself to be used in this way, I don't want to say used, but that's the only way I can put it."
Wexler, D-Delray Beach, an Orthodox Jew, said he was pleased the federation had put restrictions on Cheney. During the invitation-only event, Cheney will not be allowed to solicit contributions, distribute campaign literature or criticize presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
But Wexler said Cheney -- whom he described as President Bush's "attack dog" -- has a history of injecting politics into what are supposed to be nonpartisan events.
In April, for instance, he set off a firestorm of protest at Westminster College in Missouri by turning what was supposed to be a foreign policy address into a forum to attack Kerry.
"I'm hopeful he will not repeat that kind of partisan performance when he comes to Boca Raton," Wexler said.
In any case, Wexler said, the federation should follow the college's lead and invite Kerry to speak at the center in suburban Boca Raton. Wexler said a previous request was denied.
Bill Bernstein, executive vice president of the federation, denied that such a request had been made by Kerry or rejected.
He said the federation agreed to let Cheney speak because he is the vice president and his campaign officials said he wanted to make an "important policy address regarding the Middle East" -- an issue of utmost importance to federation members.
Bernstein said the federation isn't forsaking its principles, even though some generous contributors have called to question the propriety of the event.
"As a nonprofit organization that is representative of the entire community, our obligation is to make certain that we appear as nonpartisan as possible," Bernstein said.
While no one from the White House or the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign returned phone calls for comment, the head of the Palm Beach County Republican Party said Cheney's visit is part of organized efforts to lure historically Democratic Jewish voters to the Republican camp.
"We want the Jewish vote," said Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the county Republican Party. "We have earned the Jewish vote."
Cheney's appearance in heavily Jewish south county comes at another critical juncture in the turbulent Middle East. The Bush administration is intensely interested in Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's attempts to come up with a politically acceptable withdrawal of Israeli troops and Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, where more than 1 million Palestinians live.
During a meeting with Sharon at the White House last month, President Bush embraced the prime minister's proposal to remove 7,500 settlers, and the soldiers who protect them, from 21 settlements in Gaza.
In exchange for an Israeli pullback from Gaza, Bush said he favored allowing Israel to keep some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and opposed allowing Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.
But in security-sensitive Israel, few things are simple. Sharon's Cabinet is bitterly divided between ministers who threaten to leave his fragile four-party coalition government if the Gaza settlements are not evacuated and those who have vowed to quit if they are. On May 2, members of Sharon's Likud party voted against a withdrawal plan in a nonbinding referendum.
Hoping to salvage a pullout and stave off collapse of his coalition government, Sharon is preparing a new plan to withdraw soldiers and settlers and expects to present it to the government in about three weeks.
Everytime either one of them shows up, they give my nose that 'just stepped in fresh dog crap' sensation.
I'm surprised the Jewish voting bloc still has anything to do with the Democrats...what with the Leftist love of terrorists and all...
Re#12 I love such anecdotal evidence and think that it is a good indication. A better indication is the upcoming 'Rat pandering to this "base". Watch....
I do not know why any Jew would vote for a dem with their position in Israel. I know there are some far Left Jews out there. They can have them.
The divisions are not along lines of specific faiths, such divisions are well seeded within our respective faiths.
I suppose the same reason many Catholics vote for pro-abort Dems.
There is definitely a political dividing line among secular Jews and their orthodox counterparts.
My mothers side of the family is all Catholic and they are all very conservative. The idiots also always vote rat. Drives me insane.