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Tag Archives: Jewish voters

Update and Correction: DNC Officials Dismissive of Holocaust

The original story printed here suggests that DNC staffer Ryan Banfill poked fun at the Holocaust by stating ironically,  “This is about remembering the Holocaust. Never forget.”

Ryan, who is married to a Jewish woman and raising his kids Jewish, has written me what appears to be a heartfelt note stating unquivocally and passionately that his statement was not meant to be ironic.

Ryan wrote:

I usually let things roll off my back but your characterization of this is 180 degrees from where I was coming from. Being the father of Jewish children and deeply in love with my Jewish wife, I just can’t let your characterization of this stand.

I know our politics may differ but the Holocaust was a crime against generations — a horrific crime against all people.

I really wish you would rephrase what you wrote and accurately reflect what I wrote as being straight up what I wrote. “It’s about the Holocaust” and “Never Again.” I did not and would never downplay the Holocaust.

I’d be happy to discuss this with you if you like but please, for my family, our Rabbi and congregation, change what you wrote.

In that case, he must have been trying to influence the other DNC staffer, Kate Houghton, to help her understand that Holocaust Memorial Day is a particularly solemn day and stands out from other religious holidays.

After some thought, I have decided to accept Ryan’s explanation and I believe he is being truthful with me, despite the seeming sarcasm, and I have apologized to him.

Below is the original story, which should now be read with the above in mind.


When Debbie Wasserman Schultz asked her staffers for a statement on Holocaust Memorial Day, two of her aides mocked her and the Holocaust and one suggested the murder of 6 million Jews was no bigger deal than the Bosnia massacre.

“We need to do a statement from the DNC. Is there a reason we haven’t?” Wasserman Schultz asked in the email to communications director Ryan Banfill on May 5 of this year.

Banfill forwarded Schultz’s email to DNC staffer, Kate Houghton. “Flagging for you. The chair is asking for a statement on Yom Hashoah,” Banfill wrote.

“We aren’t going to do statements for every Jewish holiday unless she wants to do them for every religious holiday and trust me, this Catholic can give you a list of them,” Houghton replied. “Also when she does an official statement it makes very little sense to have two statements out there in her voice.”

Banfill poked fun at the Holocaust with what appeared to be an ironic reply. “This is about remembering the Holocaust. Never forget.”

“Yup… or Darfur or Armenia or Rwanda or Bosnia (which PS is where my husband served),” Houghton replied. “Does she want us to do one for each other those remembrance days as well?”

With the appearance of Palestinian flags on the floor of the Democratic convention, it should be clear by now which party is pro-Israel and a friend of the Jews, and which is not. But judging by the political sympathies of my fellow Jews, the point still somehow needs to be made.

H/T Daily Caller.

Is This Jewish Voter Week at the White House?

President Obama has been working the Hispanic vote as of late, staging a series of events designed to let Latinos know that he cares, with the unstated notion that if they care to vote for him that’s fine.

So, gosh, it’s hard not to note the preponderance of Jewish themed events at the White House this week, so many that it might make you wonder if another important constituency isn’t being asked to take notice.

This afternoon President Obama is hosting a White House reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, which as a Jew, I had no idea existed, and which I’m honored about unless it somehow entitles us to some of other people’s tax dollars.

Thursday there’s a Very Big Moment speech on the Middle East which will surely include avowals of the need to guarantee Israel’s security.

Friday Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu drops by for a session that likely will feature unctuously obsequious treatment given the rude brush off Bibi got on a previous visit to the White House – and since there’s little reason to be tough with him since with the joining of Hamas and Fatah, Mideast peace is off the table. The conversation will assuredly include avowals of the need to guarantee Israel’s security.

Finally, Obama will appear before AIPAC, the Israeli lobby, on Sunday, remarks that will surely include avowals of the need to guarantee Israel’s security.

Jews went for Obama overwhelmingly in 2008. But Republicans are always looking to make inroads into the traditional Jewish support for Democrats. And given the earlier perception of Obama as perhaps a little too evenhanded toward the Palestinians for Israel’s taste, it’s not surprising that this looks like Jewish voter week.

Gaza Flotilla Ship to be Called ‘Audacity of Hope’

Early this fall, Palestinian activists plan to try to run another flotilla through the Israeli Gaza blockade. This time for Obama, it’s personal.

Rashid Khalidi
Rashid Khalidi

In a move that must be giving Obama’s political team dyspepsia about Florida, Ohio, New Jersey and other potential battleground states where Jewish voters might make the difference, the Palestinians have decided to call one of the boats: “THE AUDACITY OF HOPE.”

That’s right, “The Audacity of Hope,” same as the Obama book title. And contributing to the fundraising effort is none other than Obama pal – probably Once and Future Pal, since hanging with him currently is bad political form – Rashid Khalidi.

Here’s a take on their relationship from an April 10, 2008 piece in the Los Angeles Times.

Chicago – It was a celebration of Palestinian culture — a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.

A special tribute came from Khalidi’s friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.

His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.”

Khalidi is a Palestinian professor and activist who has reportedly backed the killing of armed Israelis by Palestinians as a legitimate act of “resistance.”

Khalidi, in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz the other day, said he will raise money to buy the ship and suggested its name and provenance will offer it protection.

“Given the national-religious hierarchy which determines what the IDF can do to whom, the fact that the ship is American will make it harder to deal with it as the Mavi Marmara was dealt with,” Khalidi said.

Can you imagine Israelis commandos storming “The Audacity of Hope?” Not me. Pretty savvy strategy. And when does the good ship “Dreams from My Father” sail?

Top Nine Things Obama Wanted to Say to Bibi

During their recent meeting at the White House, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to make it seem like they were real chummy and all. But White House Dossier, employing an expensive team of mind readers, has been able to discern from videos and photos of the session what Obama really wanted to… Continue Reading

Obama and Netanyahu Make Nice

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu went to extraordinary lengths today to showed they had made up, possibly even kissed too, explaining to the world and U.S. Jewish voters that the relationship between Israel and the United States . . . is just wonderful. Obama showed unprecedented rudeness  to a foreign leader – that… Continue Reading