CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL

By E.J. Kessler

Published April 23, 2004, issue of April 23, 2004.
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Schumer Speaks: The appearance of New York Senator Charles Schumer at a fundraiser for the All Stars Project, a theater group founded by fringe politician Lenora Fulani, is being criticized by some New Yorkers.

“What needs to be asked is, ‘Why, Mr. Schumer, are you addressing a group that only recently staged a show about the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, which implied that it was the Jews who were guilty in the notorious Crown Heights riots of 1991? How can a senator — Jewish no less — have anything to do with such an event?’” wrote Manhattanite Evan Edwards in a letter in The New York Sun newspaper.

Fulani also is receiving the opprobrium of Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens, who took independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader to task in the magazine this month for his flirtation with the group surrounding Fulani and her longtime associate, Marxist therapist Fred Newman.

Hitchens wrote that the Newman-Fulani faction is “protean and sinister” and “a fascistic, zombie-cult outfit.”

Nader’s ties to Fulani were the subject of an article in the Forward last month.

Schumer spokesman Stuart Loeser confirmed that Schumer spoke at the All Stars Project function but declined to comment on what the senator was doing there. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also attended the event, Loeser noted. Fulani is a leader of the Independence Party, on whose ballot line both Schumer and Bloomberg have run.

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Clinton Cut: Bill Clinton, who intervened during his presidency in Israeli elections to support the dovish Labor Party, delivered a backhanded blow to Prime Minister Sharon in a speech Monday night before an American Friends of Tel Aviv University event honoring philanthropist (and Bubba pal) S. Daniel Abraham. Commenting on the election of Sharon after the failure of negotiations at Camp David, Clinton blamed Palestinian extremism — not the failure of his own policy, or any attractiveness of Sharon’s message — for Sharon’s success in that contest. “Arafat was his campaign manager,” Clinton said. While the remark was meant with a heavy sense of irony, it did not strike us as a compliment.

* * *

Florida Fun: Republicans had fun this week attacking the Florida campaign swing of presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry, who visited the Sunshine State with his former primary rival Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who is popular there from his 2000 vice-presidential run.

The two visited heavily the Jewish Palm Beach area for a town hall meeting and fundraisers.

The Bush-Cheney campaign research shop dug up primary-era quotes by Lieberman bashing Kerry on several scores, including one in which Lieberman said, “‘If everyone had voted the way John Kerry did, the money would not have been there to support our troops” in Iraq. The Bush campaign also put its favorite Jewish weapon, Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota — one of only two Jewish Republican senators — on a conference call with reporters to blast Kerry on his national security stances, particularly relating to the Middle East. Coleman repeated the lines he had said in an earlier Florida-oriented call. Lieberman spokesman Matthew Gobush did not return messages seeking comment.

* * *

Shoah Statement: Kerry cited the memories of his two Jewish relatives who died in the Holocaust in a statement this week on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Kerry found out about the relatives only recently, when their existence was uncovered by Czech historians researching the senator’s local family history. A Boston Globe inquiry last year discovered that Kerry’s paternal grandparents were Czech Jews who converted to Catholicism before immigrating to the United States from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a revelation that surprised the senator.

Said Kerry: “This year, with the knowledge that a great aunt and great uncle perished at Treblinka and Theresienstadt, Yom HaShoah has new personal meaning to me as my entire family is drawn closer still to the survivors who have become witnesses for us all. They are a moral compass for our troubled world, reminding us of our responsibilities to increase human dignity, speak out against antisemitism at every turn and to remain vigilant against genocide throughout our world.”

* * *

Deli Disaster: Stacks, the only kosher delicatessen in the District of Columbia, has closed, several Washington sources confirmed.

The restaurant, which was founded and is owned by embattled Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was a venue for Jewish power meetings and one of the few kosher establishments in the capital.

Stacks, which resided in the space formerly occupied by Planet Hollywood, closed for Passover and then never reopened. Sources traced its demise to the difficulties of Abramoff, who is being investigated by a Senate committee and by his former law firm over fees he charged to American Indian tribes involved in casino gambling.






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