Illinois Republican Party goes for the gutter
10/13/2010 - 16:04
James Besser

 It's really sad and a little scary how anti-Semitism has become just one more piece of cheap campaign rhetoric, to be hurled at just about anybody and any organization that doesn't agree with you.

Today's case in point: the Illinois Republican Party, which just issued a statement headlined “This Just In: Anti-Semitic, Anti-Israel Calls Giannoulias Their Hero.”

Alexi Giannoulias, in case you don't follow Illinois politics, is the Democrat running for the Senate seat once held by a guy named Obama. And is the big, Internet-based liberal group that gets some of its money from George Soros.

Here's what the Illinois Republicans breathlessly report:

“Moments ago, the radical left-wing organization, known for its history of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity, issued an urgent call for support of Alexi Giannoulias in the Illinois Senate race. In their email, MoveOn writes: “We're adding Alexi Giannoulias to our Progressive Heroes list because this race is so important.  In case you missed it, this organization is well-known for its history of anti-Semitism, which begs a simple question: why is Alexi Giannoulias their hero?”

The problem is, the hit on derives from anti-Semitic items posted on the group's blogs – open to the public - by outsiders .

As Web editor of the Jewish Week, I can tell you how hard it is from keeping offensive material out of blogs, comment pages and the like – but apparently MoveOn did the responsible thing and removed comments it termed “abhorrent.”

That won the praise of the Anti-Defamation League, which “welcomed the responsiveness of"

In its statement, the Illinois GOPers had the sheer chutzpah  to quote ADL director Abe Foxman's initial letter to expressing concern about the blog items –  ignoring  his followup, in which he proclaimed himself satisfied at the group's actions and acknowledged the difficulty of policing open Web forums.

Thus the charge of anti-Semitism, like Holocaust comparisons, becomes just one more throwaway political line in the mud fight we call politics.

And thus the meaning of a social scourge that has persisted through the ages is devalued, rendered into meaningless pap, like so much of the hyper-partisan rhetoric we hear these days.

For shame.

view counter

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


As Besser says, "The problem is the [criticism of] derives from anti-Semitic posted on the group's blogs - open to the public - by outsiders." The problem has been a chronic one going back to the origin of the site. Antisemites don't choose at random as a venue to spew their vitriol. They know that they will be in the company of many others who share their warped views there and that the operators of the site will be less than zealous in discouraging and removing such trash. It's been a general pattern in American political life for decades that the Left has more tolerance for antisemites in its midst than does the mainstream conservative movement!
Not only were they deceptive about what Foxman said, but I suspect a large percentage of Move-on members are Jewish. I certainly am!