Questioning A Congresswoman's Jewishness (or Jewessness)

Here’s a Jewish politician you don’t hear much about: Gabrielle Giffords, the Democrat running for her third term representing Arizona’s 8th congressional district.

She is in a tight race (just like pretty much every other Democratic incumbent this cycle) and her race has hardly attracted any national attention.

But now, Giffords’ Jewish faith is creeping into the campaign, and it is being raised by none other than a Jewish Republican.

His name is Bruce Ash, and he is a member of the RNC national committee. Ash also served in the past as chair of the Southern Arizona federation. According to a report in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, Ash posted a letter on a conservative website in which he referred to Giffords as the congresswoman “who claims to be a Jewess.” The broader context of the sentence was an attack on Giffords’ stance on Israel, which Ash believes is not strong enough.

Was Ash questioning Giffords’ Jewish faith?

Some local Jewish Democrats took issue with the phrase he used and in a letter posted on the same website they demanded an apology.

Ash, in a reply he gave the Jewish News, did not offer an apology made clear he did not mean to question her faith, but rather to ask why she did not speak out against the administration’s policy on Israel.

According to the report in the paper, Ash is supporting a Republican candidate who suggested installing a flat 10% federal tax rate, stating that if “it was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for federal government.”

Questioning A Congresswoman's Jewishness (or Jewessness)

Author

Nathan Guttman

Nathan Guttman

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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Questioning A Congresswoman's Jewishness (or Jewessness)

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