Commentary Magazine


Topic: Rep. Steve Rothman

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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