Members of the Delaware Jewish community did not intend to capture national headlines when they put together their biannual congressional candidates forum. But when the news came out that this would be the first opportunity to see Tea Party sensation Christine O’Donnell in action, the media began pouring into the Wilmington Jewish Community Center to cover the event, which was sponsored by the local Jewish Community Relations Committee and Hadassah.
According to press reports, the first debate between O’Donnell and Democrat Chris Coons was a civil affair, with supporters of each side cheering their candidate.
The crowd, mainly made up of members of the Delaware Jewish community, asked questions about the Middle East peace process, foreign aid to Israel and the possibility of cutting foreign aid in order to deal with the growing deficit. All candidates (including candidates for the House who attended as well) gave answers that satisfied the audience, according to the organizers: They support Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, agree to continue foreign aid to Israel at the level of $3 billion, and do not wish to cut the foreign aid budget.
O’Donnell, who in the past spoke about the role of religious beliefs in shaping her views, assured the Jewish crowd that her faith “has matured” since she made remarks 15 years ago opposing masturbation on religious grounds. She also stated that if elected to Senate she’d be guided by the constitution rather than by her personal beliefs.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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