The following editorial appeared in the Jewish Ledger issue of October 2006. In light of Ned Lamont’s current candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor, we feel that voters should again be made aware of his record of tolerating the antisemitic behavior of his friends and allies during that campaign.
As we note in the editorial below, the Ledger doesn’t endorse candidates, but we can disapprove of their behavior.
And so, we once again publish this 2006 editorial.
Ned Lamont is not antisemitic. Nothing he’s done would convince us that he is. But we’ve come to the conclusion that Ned Lamont is tone deaf when it comes to antisemitism. He has brushed up against it too often in this campaign and has failed to speak out.
A Ledger article this week describes the latest incident. Mr. Lamont was on stage when a group of black leaders tried to dismiss Senator Lieberman’s personal involvement in the struggle for civil rights of the 1960s as something that didn’t happen. But they were wrong: Joe Lieberman was there, and he placed himself in harm’s way as a private citizen long before he had a political career. It’s a matter of record.
Lamont should have known that. His campaign people should have known it too, and they should not have given this group the support they did. The Lamont site posted their statement (it’s since been taken down) and he stood with them when they made it. There was, in the opinion of many, a smell of antisemitism in this exercise. It’s not the first time he’s been silent when he should have spoken out.
It’s well known that Ned Lamont was a lifelong member of a country club that had too few Jews and blacks. He ended that membership in anticipation of this campaign, but he didn’t leave as a matter of principle. He left because, as he explained in the New York Times, it would have been a distraction to his campaign. This doesn’t quite count as speaking up against bias and discrimination.
Lamont’s win in the Democratic primary in August happened in no small measure because of the help he got, financial and otherwise, from his “netroots,” the aggressive Internet bloggers who support him. Unfortunately, along with this help came a strong whiff of antisemitism. Moveon.org, The Daily Kos and the Huffington Post posted many pro-Lamont messages, but also included references to Sen. Lieberman as “Jew Lieberman.”
Here are a just a few examples:
On the Huffington Post in July:
“…Lieberman cannot escape the religious bond he represents. Hell, his wife’s name is Haggadah or Muffeletta or Diaspora or something you eat at Passover.”
In the Daily Kos: “Joe’s on the Senate floor now and he’s growing a beard. He has about a week’s growth on his face…I hope he dyes his beard blood red. It would be so appropriate.” (July 11, 2005) and again in Daily Kos: “as everybody knows, jews [sic] ONLY care about the welfare of other jews; thanks ever so much for reminding everyone of this most salient fact, so that we might better ignore all that jewish propaganda [by Lieberman] about participating in the civil rights movement of the 60s and so on.” (Dec. 7, 2005).
Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote about the proliferation of these kinds of remarks in September: “Those who allow hate to rear its ugly head under their auspices bear a special responsibility to distance themselves from that hate, and to speak out against it, as loudly as possible.” Ned Lamont took support from those who published these words and never spoke out.
Moveon.org and their Action Forum has been some of his most vigorous supporters. They published things like this: “Not to get nasty but Jews have a long history of subverting governments for their own enrichment and glory to the detriment of whole societies”; “The whining, arrogant Jew wants Lebanon to demonstrate responsibility”; and this one about Rep. Tom Lantos: “Removing all Israeli obsessed Jews from Congress would stop a lot of killing.” (See more on http://moveonpleasemoveon.blogspot.com/)
Then there is the matter of who endorses Lamont.
While there have been other visitors to Connecticut to campaign for Ned Lamont, the ones who strike a discordant note in the Jewish community are people like Reps. Marcy Kaptur, Maxine Waters, and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Kaptur and Waters were two of 12 members of Congress voting not to support Israel’s right to strike back at Hezbollah this summer while Jackson and Sharpton carry antisemitic baggage.
When Lieberman’s civil rights record was being besmirched, Ned Lamont stood with the speaker and didn’t say anything until the next day. His ambivalence on that issue is a matter of record as it is with the web sites and blogs that are closely allied to his campaign.
The Ledger doesn’t endorse candidates, but we can condemn behavior. In this case, it’s what Lamont didn’t say that bothers us.