Two prominent Jewish Democratic congressmen stepped up their attacks against the Republican candidates on Friday for their “inadequate moral position”.
New York Representative Steve Israel and Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz expressed their concern over the "trivialization of Holocaust" in Republican campaigns and a recent proposal by Minority Whip to separate the aid to Israel from the foreign aid package.
Rep. Israel said he was concerned with "what will happen when the time comes to govern and the Congress is potentially run by the Republican majority – by Nazi reenactors and their friends."
Israel referred to a scandal involving the Ohio Republican candidate Rich Iott, who used to participate in reenactments of World War II battles wearing a Waffen-SS uniform, according to a report by Atlantic Magazine earlier this month.
He also attacked Republicans for an electoral event in Toledo, Ohio on Saturday, in which Minority Leader John Boehner appeared with Iott.
“For me this issue is not only personal but professional. Dressing up for weekends to play Nazi is insulting. But a potential Republican speaker of the House putting his arm around the candidate who dresses up at weekends to play Nazi – is irresponsible," said Israel.
"This is not just an affront to the Jewish community; it reflects particular insensitivity to American veterans who fought against the Nazi uniform."
"Would John Boehner embrace a candidate dressed as an enactor of Osama Bin-Laden? Why does he find it acceptable to embrace candidate who dresses as a German SS officer? This is an insult to memory of Holocaust, to American Jews and the American veterans," said Israel.
"If the Republican leadership is going to pander to the Tea Party by embracing Nazi reenactors, you have to wonder what else they are going to do to consolidate their base. When it comes to supporting foreign aid or important weapons systems for Israel, they will not stand by Israel – they will stand by Tea Party elements”.
Another issue raised by the Jewish Democrats was the recent proposal by Congressman Eric Cantor to separate Israel funding from foreign operations.
Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the U.S. Congress and the minority whip in the lower House of Representatives, this week proposed reclassifying aid to Israel away from the national foreign aid budget to the defense budget.
“This suggestion is just a disguise to their intentions to vote against the foreign aid bill without appearing anti-Israeli”, said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Wasserman-Schultz said that the proposal jeopardizes aid to Israel, and that politicizing that aid was "absolutely unacceptable."
"Separated from the foreign aid bill, [the proposal] can potentially leave [aid to Israel] weakened. If we want to be a global leader we can’t make these kinds of irresponsible choices."
"Under President Obama we’ve increased an aid to Israel more than in any time in history. But it belongs to the broader package of the foreign aid," said Wasserman-Schultz.
Israel, a member of the Appropriations sub-committee on Foreign Operations, also commented on Cantor's proposal, saying he was
"concerned about how these Tea Party candidates will vote when time comes to vote for the foreign aid to Israel."
"When you start separating countries and voting for the aid individually, you are not only threatening to defeat the entire foreign operations budget, but you also threatening to isolate and weaken the support for Israel”, said Israel.
U.S.-Israel relations have been a central issue as during Congressional election campaigns, with Democratic and Republican candidates bashing each other over the degree of their support for Israel.
“I definitely see Israel as one of the top priorities for the Jewish community”, said Wasserman-Schultz. “Israel is on top of people’s minds, that’s what I see not only in my district, but when I travel across the country”.
Asked by “Haaretz” to refer to a claim that liberal U.S. pro-Israel lobby group J-Street was responsible for injecting Israel into the elections discourse, Wasserman-Schultz said: “The Republicans, instead of dealing with trivialization of Holocaust, are trying to point in other direction. I am not here to talk to defend J-Street, but they are not a partisan organization."
"The bottom line – it’s only Tea Party banners that I saw swastikas on them and references to Nazism and Holocaust. Only on the Republican side you have a candidate who reenacted Nazis with his son. They have a problematic record, and John Boehner has to explain why he gave 7000 dollars of his campaign fund to Richi Iott and to stand with him publicly instead of denouncing his candidacy."
Att the "Rally to restore Sanity" on Saturday, several participants chose to mock the Tea Party activists signs carrying President Obama with Hitler's mustache. One man dressed like Hitler carried a sign "No, I'm Hitler".
Another demonstrator wore a T-shirt with Hitler-like person stating "I don't agree with you but I am pretty sure you are not Hitler", and yet another made a sign with several portraits of Obama with different mustaches. When asked by "Haaretz" what he meant, the man answered: "I wanted to be funny."
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