Democratic congressional primaries in New York, when they do occur, often are low-key affairs, with little drama and predictable outcomes. But this season is seeing an unusual share of hot races, and they are becoming increasingly nasty. Facing serious challenges in four races of interest to Jewish communities are Reps. Anthony Weiner, Major Owens and Ed Towns in Brooklyn and Eliot Engel in the Bronx.
In an unfortunate twist, the unanimity of political opinion on behalf of the 13 Jews on trial in Iran is making it difficult to generate much publicity for their cause. Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and her Republican Senate opponent, Rep. Rick Lazio, signed a petition calling for the freedom of the so-called Shiraz 13, accused of spying for Israel and facing execution. So did members of the City Council from both parties and across racial and ethnic lines last week.
It's nothing new for one in a voluntary leadership position with a Jewish nonprofit group to take sides in a political race. But the endorsement of U.S. Senate candidate Rick Lazio by Meryl Tisch, president of the city's leading Jewish anti-poverty group, raised a few eyebrows last week.
Some who read the comments were surprised that Tisch made no apparent effort to distinguish her personal view from that of the Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty, a tax-exempt organization enjoined from endorsing candidates.S
How's Hillary Rodham Clinton faring with the Jewish vote? It depends on whom you believe. A Quinnipiac University poll taken between May 30 and June 5 showed no benefit for Clinton from the withdrawal of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a factor some predicted would return many of the popular Republican's voters to their Democratic roots. The poll placed Clinton at 44 percent of the Jewish vote, in a statistical dead heat with Suffolk Rep. Rick Lazio, at 37 percent, because of the large margin of error for poll subgroups.
Struggling to gain momentum in his fledgling Senate bid, Republican Rep. Rick Lazio faces a dilemma as he seeks support among Jews.
His decision: focus on his own record and positions on Israel and other issues, or go for the political jugular by attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton on controversial positions she has taken.
In 1993, when a delegation of Jewish leaders and elected officials visited Israel on a trip sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, William Rapfogel found himself in frequent conversation with Rick Lazio.
A former Suffolk County prosecutor who had just been elected to Congress, Lazio had a lot to say about Israel and the Mideast peace process.
In attacking radical Independence Party activist Lenora Fulani as anti-Semitic this week, Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken a step forgone by three previous Democratic Senate candidates: two of whom are Jewish.
As City Councilman Noach Dear contemplates a second bid to win one of the nation's most heavily Jewish congressional districts, incumbent Rep. Anthony Weiner is making inroads in Dear's political backyard.
Angered by Dear's siding with the police after the controversial shooting of a disturbed Borough Park man in August, some of his former supporters are now backing Weiner for re-election.
As Gov. George Pataki intensifies his efforts to be seen as a moderate Republican on the national stage, Jewish activists seeking passage of bias crime legislation are hopeful he will make an unprecedented push for such a bill.
Although the bill has been stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate for years (while the Assembly has repeatedly passed its version) Senate Democrats are preparing to push for a vote on the measure in early April.
Nine months after he bolted the Republican Party to become a Democrat, Long Island Rep. Mike Forbes is no longer viewed as the most strident pro-Israel hawk in the House, seeming to settle instead into the Clinton administration's peace camp.