United States presidential election, 2008: US Jewish leaders condemn hateful email campaign against Barack Obama


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In the United States of America, the leaders of nine Jewish groups have released an open letter condemning what they called “hateful e-mails” that spread lies about Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama‘s religious beliefs and his intentions.

The anonymous e-mail messages have circulated for months, saying that Obama was a Muslim and carried a copy of the Koran when he was sworn in at the United States Senate.

The e-mail has been so persistent that Obama was asked about it at a Democratic presidential candidates’ debate in Nevada. He replied: “I am a Christian. I have been sworn in with a Bible. I pledge allegiance and lead the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes in the United States Senate, when I’m presiding.”

The Jewish leaders were apparently responding to reports that the e-mail was now being deliberately spread among Jews.

In the letter, they said that the “hateful e-mails use falsehood and innuendo to mischaracterize Senator Barack Obama’s religious beliefs and who he is as a person,” and that they were an “attempt to drive a wedge between our community and a presidential candidate based on despicable and false attacks and innuendo based on religion.”

“Attempts of this sort to mislead and inflame voters should not be part of our political discourse and should be rebuffed by all who believe in our democracy,” the letter said. “Jewish voters, like all voters, should support whichever candidate they believe would make the best president.”

Full text of the open letter:

January 15, 2008

An Open Letter to the Jewish Community:

As leaders of the Jewish community, none of whose organizations will endorse or oppose any candidate for President, we feel compelled to speak out against certain rhetoric and tactics in the current campaign that we find particularly abhorrent. Of particular concern, over the past several weeks, many in our community have received hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo to mischaracterize Senator Barack Obama’s religious beliefs and who he is as a person.

These tactics attempt to drive a wedge between our community and a presidential candidate based on despicable and false attacks and innuendo based on religion. We reject these efforts to manipulate members of our community into supporting or opposing candidates.

Attempts of this sort to mislead and inflame voters should not be part of our political discourse and should be rebuffed by all who believe in our democracy. Jewish voters, like all voters, should support whichever candidate they believe would make the best president. We urge everyone to make that decision based on the factual records of these candidates, and nothing less.

Sincerely,

William Daroff, Vice President, United Jewish Communities

Nathan J. Diament, Director, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Abraham Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League

Richard S. Gordon, President, American Jewish Congress

David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee

Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Phyllis Snyder, President, National Council of Jewish Women

Hadar Susskind, Washington Director, Jewish Council for Public Affairs

One Response to United States presidential election, 2008: US Jewish leaders condemn hateful email campaign against Barack Obama

  1. David,

    You’ll like this.

    This morning someone forwarded me an email sent by the arm of the Republican Party that raises money for their Senate candidates.

    The subject of the message was “Democrats Win Landslide Victory,” and the writer, Republican former Senator Bill Frist, admits: “I have a real fear of waking up to this headline after the elections this fall.”

    He goes on to explain fears among Washington power brokers about Barack Obama’s grassroots support and voter registration efforts.

    He’s right to be worried — we’re bringing new people into the process, and Obama supporters are organizing in communities across the country like never before.

    But it can’t happen without your support. Frist was raising money ahead of tonight’s financial reporting deadline — the same deadline we face.

    This is the last opportunity to have your donation counted for May, and the last chance to have a meaningful impact on the final three primary contests.

    Here’s a little bit more from Frist’s email:

    From: Senator Bill Frist, M.D.
    Date: Thu, May 29, 2008 at 3:59 PM
    Subject: “Democrats Win Landslide Victory”
    Dear Republican Supporter,
    I have a real fear of waking up to this headline after the elections this fall. […]
    In key states, news accounts indicate Democrats are outpacing Republicans registering voters. We also know Barack Obama’s campaign is utilizing the Internet to raise record amounts of money to support his campaign and Democrats nationally … all in the hope that new voters and record resources will produce a Democrat landslide victory this fall.
    There’s so much at risk, and conservatives I talk with from all across the country are feeling the rumblings of “what could be.” […]
    […] I ask for your immediate help in supporting Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate by making a contribution of $10, $25, $50 or even $100 to the NRSC. […]
    What’s amazing about this message referencing Barack Obama is that it’s not from the McCain campaign. It’s not even about the presidential race.

    It’s about the forces of the status quo, who don’t want to change the way Washington works, worried about the prospect of ordinary people taking their rightful place in a political process that is too often dominated by lobbyists and special interests.

    They’ve seen the writing on the wall, and they know that when Barack is the nominee, we’re going to continue building a movement for change to elect Barack Obama and bring about change from the bottom up at every level of office.

    There are only a few hours left before tonight’s reporting deadline, so please give whatever you can now:

    https://donate.barackobama.com/maydeadline

    Thank you,

    Steve

    Steve Hildebrand
    Deputy Campaign Manager
    Obama for America

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