Rep. Bill Pascrell, â€œa true Arabâ€� wins NJ Democratic 9th CD Primary
"Vote for a True Arab" Dem. Rep. Bill ParscellNJ 9th CD
Rabbi Schmuley Boteach . GOP Candidate NJ 9th CD
Veteran New Jersey (NJ) Rep. Bill Pascrell won a landslide victory in the Democratic primary in the redrawn NJ 9th CD defeating fellow Democrat Rep. Steve Rothman: 70 to 30 percent. An independent redistricting commission had eliminated a largely Democratic Congressional District following the 2010 Census because of New Jersey’s lackluster population growth. Rothman chose to enter a primary battle against Pascrell as 57% of the population came from his prior CD, while 43% came from Pascrell’s. Rothman would have had to run against Republican incumbent Scott Garrett in the 5th NJ CD in what would have been a costly battle. The irony is that the likely Republican contender in the NJ 9th race in November now that Rothman has lost in the Democratic primary will be Orthodox Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, author of Kosher Sex and columnist for Breitbart News. Boteach won the GOP primary in thge NJ 9th CD. Rothman in February solicited Orthodox Jewish Republicans from his hometown of Fair Lawn, New Jersey to switch party registrations to vote for him in the 9th CD Democratic primary.
As Roll Callnoted the race pitted two liberal Democrats, one supported by President Obama, Rothman, versus Pascrell, boosted by former President Bill Clinton. Both were elected to Congress from respective districts in the Class of 1996. Pascrell had the advantage of local Democratic machine in Passaic, Bergen and Hudson Counties in the new NJ 9th to roll out the vote. Rothman, the former Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey moved back there to prepare for this primary contest.
Pascrell postures himself as a friend of the growing Muslim community in Passaic and Hudson counties. He has been chummy with an Imam at the Islamic Center of Passaic County tagged by the FBI with Hamas connections in Israel. Rothman was an acknowledged champion of support for Israel and sanctions against Nuclear Iran.
In the final days of the intense campaign there was evidence of Muslim support in Arabic language campaign posters and op Eds suggesting that Pascrell was their friend running against “the Jew”, Rothman. The Jewish Press had a Pascrell poster in Arabic translated as “vote for a true Arab”. Pascrell is a grandson of Italian immigrants . A Roman Catholic , Pascrell is a native and former Mayor of the ‘silk city’ of Paterson, New Jersey.
The Algemeiner in a report just prior to this special Democratic primary election noted how nasty the campaign had gotten over the issue of Israel:
As the race between Democratic Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell nears its Tuesday finish, veteran political observers on the ground have expressed concern at the way the battle between the two veteran lawmakers has transformed into a troubling ethnic brawl.
“One side says, ‘We want this Jew out of office’ and, frankly, it’s pretty unsettling,” Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee based in Englewood Cliffs, told the Free Beacon. “They emphasized [Rothman] is a Jewish congressman.”
Others say they simply cannot recall a congressional race becoming a referendum on a candidate’s religion.
“For the first time in recent American political history, we are witnessing a proxy battle between supporters and detractors of Israel, and it’s playing out in the Ninth District of New Jersey,” said one veteran campaign strategist who is knowledgeable about the district.
The race took an unprecedented turn on Monday when an Arabic campaign poster supporting Pascrell surfaced. It urged the “Arab diaspora community” to “elect the friend of the Arabs” and billed the race as “the most important election in the history of the [Arab] community,” according to a WFB translation of the sign.
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Observers such as Susan Rosenbluth, publisher of the New Jersey-based Jewish Voice and Opinion, say the race took an anti-Semitic turn in late February, when a prominent Arab supporter of Pascrell accused the state’s Jewish voters of being more loyal to Israel than America.
“Unquestionably, this primary election is pitting two otherwise harmoniously coexisting communities: the Muslim and Jewish communities,” Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, wrote in a New Jersey Star-Ledger column headlined “Rothman is Israel’s man in District 9.”
“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.
The Algemeiner report noted the canard of the Jewish question of dual loyalty raised by the district Arab and Muslim community:
“A number of Arab-American constituents have come out with outrageous attacks on Rothman,” said Rosenbluth, whose newspaper is based in Englewood. “I haven’t heard a dual loyalty charge for years.”
“It’s a little bit scary,” said Chouake, who noted that massive voter registration drives in the Arab community have added at least 6,000 new names to the rolls. Some of those registrations have been disputed.
Most disturbing, said Rosenbluth and others, is that Pascrell has remained silent, refusing to condemn the charges of dual loyalty.
“I called Pascrell’s office and asked, ‘Will you condemn it?’ ” Rosenbluth said. “They said, ‘We didn’t write it.’”
Aref Assaf, an Arab Community advocate wrote an op-ed in the New Jersey Star Ledger attacking Rothman’s pro-Israel stand:
“The Arab and Muslim community of northern New Jersey is taking notice of how Steve Rothman is using his support of Israel as the centerpiece of his campaign,” Assaf wrote in the op-ed, which included a picture of the pro-Pascrell Arabic campaign poster. “They take issue with Rothman bragging about his help in getting Israel over $50 billion in aid since 2001, while bringing back only $2 billion to New Jersey residents.”
Imam Mohammad Qatanani Hamas supporter and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ 9th CD)
Joel Mowbray wrote about Pascrell’s more notorious Arab community friends in aPowerline blog on the NJ 9th CD Democratic primary:
Pascrell appears to be actively targeting the Arab and Muslim community, last week bringing out the first elected Muslim Congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who has become one of the most vocal critics of Israel in Congress. Since being elected to Congress, Ellison became even more famous in 2007 for appeared to suggest that 9/11 was an inside job, saying that he wouldn’t call the attack a “U.S. plan … because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you.”
First elected in 1996, the New Jersey Democrat has forged close ties with the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) – where El Filali serves as an executive – a mosque that has acknowledged hosting lectures from figures who have publicly praised terrorism or have been identified by law enforcement as being Hamas officials. Aside from El Filali, two other ICPC employees, Mazooz Sehwail and Ahmad Suleiman, have given the Pascrell campaign a total of $1,500 in the past year, according to FEC records.
This support has not been a one-way street, as Pascrell has been a staunch opponent of the deportation of ICPC imam Mohammad Qatanani, whom the federal government is attempting to deport for failing to disclose his arrest and subsequent conviction in Israel for supporting Hamas. And Pascrell’s voice is unusually powerful in this arena, as he is a powerful veteran member.
“It’s pretty outrageous that Pascrell would come to the defense of Qatanani, a convicted supporter of Hamas, especially because there was information made available to him as a member of Congress about the imam’s role in supporting the killing of Jews,” said Steven Emerson, founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. “He should release details about whatever briefings he received.”
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While Pascrell has voted in favor of foreign aid for Israel, he has also engaged in caustic Israel bashing, such as signing on to the so-called “Gaza 54” letter, the Keith Ellison-led effort which accused the Jewish state of collective punishment against Gaza.
It will be interesting to see the contest this November between the ‘true Arab” liberal Democrat Pascrell and conservative winner of the GOP primary in the NJ 9th CD, a ‘true friend of Israel’, Orthodox Rabbi Schmuley Boteach.