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Because It’s Never Too Early For A Little Illinois Mudslinging … UPDATE: Jay Footlik Weighs In

Put this story in your “it’s never too early to go for the low blow” file: The blogosphere has been abuzz this week after Andy Lappin, a supporter of Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, played the anti-Semite card against the two Democratic challengers vying to take the lawmaker on in 2008.

Lappin sent out an email slamming Dan Seals and Jay Footlik – a former Clinton aide who is Jewish, with an Israeli-born wife – for attending this month’s YearlyKos convention: “What’s troubling is that Seals and Footlik speak to our community with one mouth and then run to a convention filled with anti-Semitic bloggers,” Lappin wrote in the email.

The whole episode could be easily dismissed as just a lot of partisan nonsense, if it weren’t for the fact that the Jewish vote could well prove decisive in a Kirk-Footlik match-up. The district is heavily Jewish, and Kirk has in the past enjoyed wide support from the Jewish community.

Last cycle, when Kirk took on Seals, who comes from an partially African-American background, his Republican backers worked the Democrats-bad-for-Israel angle. Then Kirk came under fire, as my colleague Rebecca Spence reported, when one of his supporters allegedly threatened to punish Tel Aviv University because one of its top American donors was backing Seals.

UPDATE: In a chat this afternoon with the Forward, Jay Footlik dismissed Lappin’s charges as “ludicrous,” while pushing hard on the theory that it was motivated by fears over Footlik’s Jew-cred.

“They don’t want to run against me…because they know he’s going to have a tough time holding on to a vital and important constituency,” Footlik told the Forward.

He added that last time “[that strategy was] partially successful and they won. And they’re not going to do it against me.”

Here’s the copy of Lappin’s e-mail:

Dear Friends,

While we may disagree on politics and policy sometimes, we all can agree to strongly condemn anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and the institutions that foment them.

I remain a stauch supporter of Congressman Mark Kirk who has co-chaired the Congressional Task Force on Anti-Semitism, led the way on hate crimes legislation, continues to lead on opening the Holocaust archives in Bad Arolsen and remains the strongest voice in Congress for the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship.

I write to you today to make sure you know about an issue I find to be pivotal in the upcoming race for Congress in the 10th District. While the two Democrats vying to take on our friend Congressman Kirk next year claim to support our values, their actions to gain political support suggest they do not.

In an effort to appeal to their party’s far-left, both candidates participated in this week’s Kos Convention in Chicago–with Jay Footlik working the crowd and Dan Seals addressing the conference. Both expressed great pride and satisfaction in attending.

What’s troubling is that Seals and Footlik speak to our community with one mouth and then run to a convention filled with anti-Semitic bloggers. DailyKos is a community of bloggers–thousands of people who write their own opinions online. The site’s real attraction comes from the discussion that ensues.

Let’s see a few examples of what the Kos Convention attendees are blogging–the very same people Seals and Footlik come running to for support. Many times posts are left up for weeks or months until watchdog groups raise concerns over anti-Semitism–at that point, Kos removes the blog pages. Fortunately, there are other savvy bloggers out there who keep archived copies.

1) “Once we lock up a Majority, where we don’t need Lieberman, I hope they will kick him to the curb like the dog he is.” This post received 24 positive ratings and zero negative.

“He’s [Lieberman] a much lower form of life than a dog” 8 plus/zero minus

“He’s a snake in the grass.” 4 plus/zero minus

“Don’t insult dogs like that, Given a choice between my dog and Lieberman, I’d gas him without thinking twice.” 4 plus/3 minus


2) “because as everybody knows, jews ONLY care about the welfare of otherjews”

3) “Israel is showing the entire world why the Iranian President wasabsolutely right to suggest that Israel cease being a sovereign state as is.

4) “Zionism was and remains a racist ideology.” A picture was included in that post showing an Israeli cabinet minister merging faces with Adolf Hitler, with a Star of David inside a skull.

5) Another blog expressed sympathy and support for the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

Of course, I’m not surprised that Dan Seals attended. In his unsuccessful 2006 race, he made two comments caught on film that caused eruptions in the Jewish community.

The first, during an interview with 2004 candidate Lee Goodman, Seals said that if war ever broke out between Israel and Iran, he would come down on the side of peace:

The second, during the height of the August 2006 war in Lebanon, Seals called on Israel to cease fire immediately and begin addressing the root causes of terrorism:

But why did Jay Footlik attend? Is he that desparate that he runs to a community that slurs Jews and supports the Iranian President’s dream of wiping Israel off the map?

And while you think about this, I urge you to contrast the action of both men to the continued leadership of our dear friend, Congressman Mark Kirk. While his opponents run to anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bloggers, here’s a sampling of Congressman Kirk’s leadership on our core issues since the beginning of 2007 alone:

  • Established the 10 th District Israel High School Forum for students in our community to learn more about the U.S.-Israel relationship the firstof its kind in the nation.

  • Authored an amendment which passed the House ( H.R. 1585) directing the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress with a plan to fully integrate the U.S. National Ballistic Missile Defense with the State of Israel.

  • Authored appropriations language now in law ( H.R. 2206) requiring the Secretary of State to report to Congress on the Lebanese Government’s progress in fulfilling its mandate under Section 14 of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.

  • Authored appropriations language mandating a comprehensive review by the Government Accountability Office of Cash Assistance and Emergency Cash Assistance programs run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The language was prompted by UNRWA reports that terrorist and families of suicide bombers may received emergency assistance.

  • Authored appropriations language mandating a report by the Secretary of State on the feasibility of executing an international restriction on gasoline to Iran. Iran imports more than 40% of its refined petroleum unique economic weakness.

  • Authored appropriations language earmarking $5 million for women’s support programs in minority communities in Iran and $2 million for democracy programs in Syria.

  • Introduced H.R . 2880, the bipartisan Iran Sanctions Enhancement Act of 2007, to extend current sanctions to companies that provide gasoline to Iran.

  • Sponsored a bipartisan resolution ( H.Res.64) which passed the House calling on Bangladesh to drop all charges against journalist Shoaib Choudhury. Congressman Kirk previously negotiated Choudhury’s release from prison following his arrest for attempting to visit Israel .

  • Authored a bipartisan letter with 104 co-signers to Secretary Rice urging her to work within the Security Council to give UN Forces in Lebanon a new mandate to intercept arms coming across the Syrian border.

  • Authored a bipartisan letter with 12 key foreign assistance leaders in the House calling on World Bank President Robert Zoellick to end disbursements to Iran immediately.

  • Led a successful international effort to pressure European nations to open Holocaust archives in Germany. Co-authored a series of bipartisan letters to European Ambassadors and was the lead co-sponsor of the Hastings-Kirk resolution which passed the House (H.Res.240).

  • Lead co-sponsor of the Conyers-Kirk Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act ( H.R. 1592), which provides federal resources to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

  • Ordered an Inspector General investigation into reports that more than $140,000 was provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development to the Hamas-controlled Islamic University in Gaza. In June, Congressman Kirk authored appropriations language tightening anti-terror vetting language to include institutions that have terrorist trustees hereby closing the funding loophole to Islamic University which boasts Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

  • Authored a bipartisan letter to the Japanese government urging it not to open direct assistance to the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority. After receiving the letter, the Japanese government reversed its decision and upheld the Quartet conditions on assistance.

  • Co-authored a letter to Secretary Rice urging her to fire the news director of Al-Hurra TV after airing an interview with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and sending reporters to cover the Iranian Holocaust Denial Conference. Congressman Kirk then co-authored appropriations language cutting Al-Hurra’s funding and mandating 24/7 online video feeds of all broadcasts. Al-Hurra’s news director resigned the following day.

  • Co-authored a letter to the National Institutes of Health demanding a full investigation of reports of anti-Semitic conduct by it chief clergy.

  • Delivered a special order address before the House detailing all the factual inaccuracies in President Carter’s recent book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The time to show your support to this great leader is now. If you are as disgusted as I am by the actions of Dan Seals and Jay Footlik, I would urge you to call their campaigns and let them know you’re making a contribution to Kirk for Congress because unlike them, he’s fighting in Congress to combat global anti-Semitism, fight Holocaust denial, protect Israel and stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.


Andy Lappin


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