The decision to disinvite Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin from an anti-Iran rally in front of the United Nations Monday has divided Jewish groups in New York City.
Palin’s invitation was revoked after Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., canceled her apparance last week because she didn’t want to share a platform with the Republican Party’s rising star. That has led to an angry reaction among Jewish leaders, both Republican and Democrat, who believe the Alaska governor should have been heard.
The ire is being directed at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group of the nation’s leading Jewish organizations. But reports during the weekend suggested that the group was bowing to pressure from New York City’s Democratic establishment.
"I'm absolutely appalled at the behavior of the Democrats," said Bob Kunst of Defenders.net. "I'm a Democrat and for the first time in my life I'm going to vote Republican. I can't take it anymore." His group tried to invite Palin to another rally on Sunday.
New York’s CBS 2 HD TV station reported that the groups sponsoring the rally against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN were told that "it could jeopardize their tax exempt status" if they had Palin and not Clinton or Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden on hand.
"This is insulting. This is embarrassing, especially to Gov. Palin, to me and I think it should be to every single New Yorker," Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn, told CBS 2 HD.
Sources say the axes were out for Palin as soon as Sen. Clinton pulled out because she did not want to attend the same event as the Republican vice presidential candidate.
"I have never seen such raw emotion — on both sides," another source told CBS 2.
The angry back-and-forth may hurt the Obama campaign among Jews — traditionally liberal Democratic voters who nevertheless have been slow in embracing the Illinois senator’s campaign for president. Obama has been hampered by an underground campaign accusing him of being a Muslim, he’s a longtime Christian, and doubts about his commitment to Israel. Morever, many in New York and Florida’s large Jewish communities were supporters of Clinton during the primaries.
Pajamasmedia.com reported Monday that the Palin snub could open the door for McCain to accuse Obama of putting partisanship above patriotism.
“The National Jewish Democratic Council took credit for nixing the invitation,” blogger Jennifer Rubin reported. “And the leftwing “J Street” crowed over its victory: ‘We collected over 20,000 signatures in 24 hours asking Iran Unity rally organizer Malcolm Hoenlein to take Sarah Palin off the schedule for Monday’s rally, and he caved to our pressure on Thursday afternoon citing the fact that the rally had become too partisan.’” They made clear that they viewed this as a victory for precisely the policy which Barack Obama favors: “smart diplomacy.”
Rubin quoted several leading Jewish leaders expressing anger over the decision.
“We want to be very clear that we not only dissent from the decision to disinvite Governor Palin, but we condemn in no uncertain terms those within the Conference of Presidents who chose to impose their narrow partisan agenda on a very important undertaking,” Tom Neumann, executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs , wrote Monday in a letter to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the sponsor of the event.
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