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November 17, 2008

Op-ed: No Apologies to Coulter, Hannity, et al.

Listed in: Stop the Smears, NJDC News, Opinions

Originally published in The Huffington Post

By Marc R. Stanley, Chairman of the National Jewsih Democratic Council (NJDC)

Dear President-elect Obama,

I am sorry.

Keenly aware of your avid attention to the opinion pages of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, I am sure you paid special attention to the open apology letter to Senator John McCain authored this week by Dean Rotbart. Rotbart unashamedly declared that your victory meant that the "nuclear holocaust won." I hope your feelings were not hurt by Rotbart's right-wing rant, and I assure you that this ridiculous rhetoric is not widespread in the Jewish community. Please accept my apologies on behalf of all American Jews for this attack.

More than anyone else, the Jewish community understands the horror of the Holocaust, and we know that the Holocaust has no place in our partisan bickering - a fact Rotbart seems to have forgotten. Invoking the Holocaust for partisan gain is the lowest of the low. When you are President, please remember that over 78% of our community supported you and your strong record for issues we care most about. Please ignore the shameless fear and smear campaign waged against you by a small minority in our community.

During the election, American Jews showed how deeply we care about the peace and security of Israel. Jewish voters take great comfort in America's bipartisan support of Israel. Some Republicans, like Rotbart, continue to use Israel as a partisan wedge issue event though it makes no practical sense for strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. In fact, Rotbart's attempt to smear you damages the bipartisan pro-Israel consensus surrounding this issue. It seems that some are more motivated by their reactionary anti-Obama feelings than their support for maintaining historic the crucial bipartisan support for Israel in America.

Over the course of the campaign, both candidates for president possessed strong pro-Israel records and continually expressed their support for Israel. Why, then, did the vast majority of American Jews vote for you and Joe Biden? The answer is simple: the Jewish community undoubtedly supports Israel, but we also care about the same issues the rest of Americans care about. The Jews who voted for you are worried about our economy, poverty in America, our education and health-care systems, about reproductive rights, the assault on civil liberties, the separation of church and state and our standing in the world.

Rotbart and others who share his view need to take a close look at themselves in the mirror. Do they want to continue supporting people like Ann Coulter who said that Jews need to be "perfected" and Sean Hannity, who invited Andy Martin, an anti-Semite, as a guest on his show? (This is the same anti-Semite who started the rumors about your "Muslim" faith.) While I do not believe Rotbart to be an anti-Semite nor do I believe that Rotbart thinks that Jews need to be perfected, I do know that the 78% of Jewish voters who chose the Obama/Biden ticket have no need to apologize. You do deserve an apology for Rotpart's use of "the gathering clouds of Holocaust II" and his outright statement that the "nuclear holocaust won" in this election.

Rotbart does need to write an apology letter, he just addressed it to the wrong people.