The decision last week by organizers (the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations) of the anti-Iran rally in New York City to disinvite Governor Sarah Palin after Senator Hillary Clinton backed out in a huff has set off a torrent of negative reaction — which the media, not surprisingly, has chosen largely to ignore. It also may have opened the door for the McCain-Palin ticket to attack Barack Obama for placing partisan politics above national security and support for Israel.
Many prominent American Jews and a number of media outlets are labeling the action disgraceful.
The New York Post, noting that these rallies had taken place for years with the participation of political candidates of different parties, was among those labeling the decision to dump Palin a “disgrace,” explaining:
Rally organizers, trying to salvage the situation, then invited Palin’s counterpart on the Democratic ticket, Sen. Joe Biden. But his campaign turned thumbs down, reportedly citing a “longstanding commitment” to speak at a National Guard convention in Maryland. At which point the organizers, in a not-especially-gracious move, disinvited Palin — along with every other political official who’d been asked to speak, saying that would prevent their message from being “obscured” by the tumult.
Really? Such tumult as there might have been traces directly to the Democrats’ refusal to rise above partisan politics and share the public spotlight with a nationally prominent Republican. As Sen. John McCain rightly noted in a statement, the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose, to Israel and to America, is too great for the issue to be used as a political football. Hillary Clinton and the Obama campaign could have driven that point home by her appearance at Monday’s rally. But they chose instead to play politics.
The Post was not alone in expressing outrage. A local New York news report cited angry local reaction to reports that the organizers had been pressured — perhaps threatened with loss of tax exempt status — to disinvite Palin:
“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,” said someone close to the situation. The groups sponsoring the rally against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN were reportedly told, “it could jeopardize their tax exempt status” if they had Palin and not Clinton or Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden on hand. … “It’s an absolute shame that this has happened,” Hikind said. “To threaten organizations … to threaten the Conference of Presidents that if you don’t withdraw the invitation to Gov. Palin we’re going to look into your tax exempt status … that’s McCarthyism.”
The same story quoted president of “Hillary Now” Bob Kunst: “I’m absolutely appalled at the behavior of the Democrats. I’m a Democrat and for the first time in my life I’m going to vote Republican. I can’t take it anymore.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council took credit for nixing the invitation. 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.” (MoveOn.org’s financier and godfather George Soros was an initial backer of J Street. Its board of advisors contains notable leftwing activists such as Matt Stoller, who previously blogged for Ned Lamont’s senatorial campaign and the netroot MyDD website, and Eric Alterman of the netroot attack group Media Matters, who recently was exposed for suggesting that a column on ABC News’ website was influenced by its Jewish reporter’s affiliations with other Jewish journalists. It also contains individuals such as Robert Malley, who served as an informal advisor to the Obama camp but was dismissed after his negotiations with Hamas were revealed.)