CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL

By E.J. Kessler

Published December 31, 2004, issue of December 31, 2004.
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Food Fight: A fund raising letter signed by Rabbi David Saperstein, head of the Religious Action Center, the Washington-based policy arm of Reform Judaism, is raising the hackles of some Orthodox officials.

“Thanks in large part to the aggressive tactics and ‘take no prisoners’ approach of the reactionary right, reasoned political debate in America has been drowned out by angry partisan attack,” Saperstein states in the letter, adding, “Some Jewish organizations are reacting to the growing militancy of the fundamentalist Christian movement by turning inward and embracing a fundamentalism of their own.”

“I don’t know who he’s referring to, but it’s certainly rhetoric we would find troubling,” said Nathan Diament, head of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs. Diament said he objected to the broad-based finger pointing and also to the “suggestion that those with a more conservative take on issues who are acting in the public arena are doing something inappropriate.”

“The irony here is that David, while very much a progressive liberal, has often worked with conservatives, including religious conservatives, in coalitions for common goals.”

RAC official Mark Pelavin declined to name which Jewish organizations his group thinks are embracing fundamentalism, saying, “I don’t think it’s helpful or constructive to pick a fight with some organizations.” He said the letter argued that the right has no monopoly on the values debate because “our views are very much driven by our values.”

* * *

Floridian for Fowler: Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney Mitchell Berger, a top Democratic fund raiser who was a finance chairman of the presidential campaign of Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, has signed on as a finance chairman for Donnie Fowler, a South Carolina political strategist who is running to head the Democratic National Committee. Fowler, whose political experience includes a stint managing retired general Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign, gets in Berger a voluble advocate known for regaling donors with entertaining pitches — for example, “Batman, Superman, Lieberman!” — on the Connecticut senator’s behalf. Berger told the Forward that he is supporting Fowler, 37, because Fowler “knows how to organize… and to win elections” and because “it is time to move” to a younger generation of Democrats. “It’s not like the party needs help in its fund-raising. It’s doing excellently in its fundraising. It needs help in its organizational aspects,” Berger said. Joining Berger on the Fowler finance team as directors are veteran campaign operatives Stephanie Berger and Rachel Hirshberg. Fowler, son of former DNC chairman Don Fowler, comes to New York on January 12 to pitch his wares to a gathering of Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, a group of young Democrats.

* * *

Feet to the Fire: Democrats for Israel, Los Angeles, a pro-Israel Democratic Party organization, is urging the Bush administration to use the Syrian Accountability Act to sanction Syria for its support of terrorism and the Iraqi insurgency.

“President Bush opposed the Syrian Accountability Act when California Senator Barbara Boxer introduced it in Congress. He has used it reluctantly and gingerly,” the group’s president, Paul Kujawsky, said in a release. “A president serious about a war against Islamist terror, and serious about democratizing Iraq, would invoke the sanctions of the Syrian Accountability Act without the squeamishness and hesitation that characterizes this president.”






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