J Street has just won its first political skirmish. Only a day or so ago it began a campaign to petition Malcolm Hoenlein and the Conference of Presidents against its decision to invite Sarah Palin to address a UN rally against Iran on the day the latter’s president addresses the world body.
Hillary Clinton, who had been scheduled to speak at the rally, dropped out when Hoenlein announced Palin’s participation. J Street then went on the attack against Hoenlein’s turning it into a partisan pep rally. While he must’ve been madder than a hornet’s nest, 15,000 protest messages did the trick and Palin was disinvited. Chalk one up for J Street and the good guys.
The Forward also reveals that some of the event’s local Jewish sponsors were specifically angry at Hoenlein for his efforts to turn the event into a partisan show:
Sources close to the issue said…that the flap had caused heated discussions among the rally organizers, with the New York-based groups expressing dismay about the decision to invite Palin.
Several left-leaning members of the Presidents Conference, which comprises 52 Jewish organizations, also criticized the decision to reach out to the Republican Party, which they claimed was made by Hoenlein…
John McCain too is mad as hell:
“Gov. Palin was pleased to accept an invitation to address this rally and show her resolve on this grave national security issue, regrettably that invitation has since been withdrawn under pressure from Democratic partisans,” McCain said in a statement.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with Republicans, Democrats and independents alike to oppose Ahmadinejad’s goal of a nuclear armed Iran,” he said. “Sen. Obama’s campaign had the opportunity to join us. Sen. Obama chose politics rather than the national interest.”
I would’ve understood asking Hillary Clinton to address this crowd since she IS New York’s senior senator, she is no longer running for any office, and she has a historically close relationship with the Jewish community. But Hoenlein should’ve realized he was playing with fire when he invited Palin. How could he expect Clinton and Palin to speak from the same podium? It was simply a numbskull idea considering the awkwardness–though of course it would’ve burnished Palin’s foreign policy street cred no end (which is why Clinton wanted nothing to do with it).
Malcolm will have to go back to the drawing board and figure out other ways he can help John McCain and Sarah Palin get more Jewish votes. So much for a supposedly non-partisan Jewish communal leadership.