Commentary Magazine


Topic: dual-loyalty

It’s the Dual Loyalty, Stupid

Many of Chuck Hagel’s defenders are rallying around the fiction his opponents impugn him as an anti-Semite because he does not agree that a strong partnership with Israel is in U.S. interests. The most recent example is this piece from the New Yorker. The straw man defense does not work because it avoids the key issue: Chuck Hagel (or Chas Freeman, or Richard Nixon, or Pat Buchanan, or Charles Lindbergh, or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or Juan Cole, or W. Pat Lang) engages in the conceit that anyone who disagrees with him must have dual loyalties and therefore not be “real Americans.”

To question a Jewish American’s loyalty rather than debate the issues with him is not borderline anti-Semitic; it is anti-Semitic. The same holds true for the anti-Catholic bigotry that once surrounded John F. Kennedy’s campaign, the anti-Muslim bigotry that many moderate Muslims face, and the anti-Mormon bigotry in which many engaged during Mitt Romney’s campaign.

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Many of Chuck Hagel’s defenders are rallying around the fiction his opponents impugn him as an anti-Semite because he does not agree that a strong partnership with Israel is in U.S. interests. The most recent example is this piece from the New Yorker. The straw man defense does not work because it avoids the key issue: Chuck Hagel (or Chas Freeman, or Richard Nixon, or Pat Buchanan, or Charles Lindbergh, or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or Juan Cole, or W. Pat Lang) engages in the conceit that anyone who disagrees with him must have dual loyalties and therefore not be “real Americans.”

To question a Jewish American’s loyalty rather than debate the issues with him is not borderline anti-Semitic; it is anti-Semitic. The same holds true for the anti-Catholic bigotry that once surrounded John F. Kennedy’s campaign, the anti-Muslim bigotry that many moderate Muslims face, and the anti-Mormon bigotry in which many engaged during Mitt Romney’s campaign.

What is truly disappointing is how far from progressive many progressives have become. They will accuse others of McCarthyism for the temerity to disagree with them and will then respond with the truly McCarthyite canard that their opponent is anti-American and holds loyalty to a foreign power.

Hagel has apologized for his bigotry toward gays. Will he apologize for questioning whether his political opponents hold dual loyalties?

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Pascrell Stays Silent on Dual-Loyalty Slur

On Wednesday, I wondered whether Rep. Bill Pascrell would condemn a dual-loyalty charge one of his prominent supporters used against backers of Pascrell’s primary opponent, Rep. Steve Rothman. Yesterday, one of Pascrell’s surrogates, former Rep. Herb Klein, issued a statement dismissing the controversy as a “distraction.” But as the Washington Jewish Week reports, Pascrell’s campaign has declined to condemn the dual-loyalty slur directly.

Here’s a portion of Klein’s statement, via the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo:

“The ongoing ‘controversy’ being laid at Bill Pascrell’s door as a result of an op-ed authored by someone not affiliated with the Pascrell campaign has proven to be a distraction from the issues confronting the 9th Congressional District’s Democratic voters,” Klein said.

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On Wednesday, I wondered whether Rep. Bill Pascrell would condemn a dual-loyalty charge one of his prominent supporters used against backers of Pascrell’s primary opponent, Rep. Steve Rothman. Yesterday, one of Pascrell’s surrogates, former Rep. Herb Klein, issued a statement dismissing the controversy as a “distraction.” But as the Washington Jewish Week reports, Pascrell’s campaign has declined to condemn the dual-loyalty slur directly.

Here’s a portion of Klein’s statement, via the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo:

“The ongoing ‘controversy’ being laid at Bill Pascrell’s door as a result of an op-ed authored by someone not affiliated with the Pascrell campaign has proven to be a distraction from the issues confronting the 9th Congressional District’s Democratic voters,” Klein said.

The campaign’s response hasn’t satisfied Rep. Rothman. His spokesman Aaron Keyak issued the following statement:

Mr. Assaf is a supporter of and donor to Congressman Pascrell. We stand by our request that Congressman Pascrell disavow these attacks and ask his supporters to stop this harmful, dishonest, and bigoted rhetoric. Questioning Congressman Rothman’s loyalty to America is a serious charge. We are disappointed that Congressman Pascrell refuses to disavow his donor’s ridiculous and unfounded attack.

Pascrell has clashed with the pro-Israel community in the past, most recently when he signed onto the controversial “Gaza 54” letter, which was disproportionately critical of Israel.

Pascrell has also come under fire for facilitating Capitol Hill meetings for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that has refused to condemn terrorist groups like Hamas. In 2006, Pascrell praised the organization, saying, “I want to personally commend CAIR for its work on issues including civil liberties and opening dialogue with various communities in America.”

When I reached out to Pascrell’s spokesperson Sean Darcy today, he again refused to condemn the dual-loyalty charge, telling me the same thing the campaign reportedly told the Washington Jewish Week: “[Klein’s] statement speaks for itself.”

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Will Rep. Pascrell Denounce “Israel-Firster” Rhetoric Against Opponent?

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell – who’s currently locked in a brutal primary battle with Rep. Steve Rothman because of state redistricting – is in hot water after a prominent supporter accused Rothman-backers of being more loyal to Israel than the United States.

Arab-American activist Aref Assaf penned a column blasting those who support Rothman over Pascrell, claiming their choice is solely based on “blind support for Israel”:

“As total and blind support for Israel becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s,” Assaf wrote in an article for the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

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New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell – who’s currently locked in a brutal primary battle with Rep. Steve Rothman because of state redistricting – is in hot water after a prominent supporter accused Rothman-backers of being more loyal to Israel than the United States.

Arab-American activist Aref Assaf penned a column blasting those who support Rothman over Pascrell, claiming their choice is solely based on “blind support for Israel”:

“As total and blind support for Israel becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s,” Assaf wrote in an article for the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Now Rothman, one of the staunchest Israel defenders in the Democratic Party, is calling on Pascrell to denounce the “bigoted” rhetoric, reports the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo:

“Congressman Pascrell should disavow these attacks and ask his supporters to stop this harmful, dishonest, and bigoted rhetoric,” Rothman spokesperson Aaron Keyak said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “Even during tough elections we should be able to debate policy without having our political opponents question our patriotism.”

After the controversy over Democratic-linked organizations engaging in dual-loyalty charges, it’s problematic that one of Pascrell’s supporters would make such inflammatory claims. This also isn’t the first time Pascrell has come under fire for anti-Israel associations. In 2010, he signed the controversial “Gaza 54 letter,” which was harshly critical of Israel. Pascrell’s best move may be to take Rothman’s advice and distance himself from Assaf’s toxic rhetoric, unless he wants to be seen as tacitly approving these allegations.

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