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Lieberman Gave A Thousand Dollars To Whom?


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When five-term Alabama congressman Earl Hilliard, widely considered one of Israel’s most implacable foes on Capitol Hill, was defeated in a Democratic primary last June, the news was greeted with unconcealed glee by pro-Israel organizations and activists across the country – many of whom had worked hard to unseat him.Observers on both sides agreed that one of the principle reasons for Hilliard’s loss at the hands of challenger Artur Davis was the unprecedented level of financial aid that flowed into Davis’s campaign coffers from out-of-state pro-Israel Jews. (Indeed, after the primary a bitter Hilliard warned of a “future with a great deal of conflict between African Americans and Jews in this country” and even hinted that there would be “retribution” for his defeat.)

There was, however, at least one Jew – a prominent Jew at that, and one who comes advertised as both “observant” and staunchly pro-Israel – who gave his money not to Artur Davis, but to the anti-Israel Hilliard, in the form of a $1,000 check. That Jew was Joe Lieberman, friend of Pat Buchanan, admirer of Louis Farrakhan, joking buddy of Al Sharpton, and, now we know, supporter of Earl Hilliard.

News of Lieberman’s gift to Hilliard surfaced last May 9 in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call but was generally ignored by other news outlets. “On a single day, March 27, Lieberman’s Responsibility, Opportunity, Community PAC cut 22 separate checks to members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as well as Hispanic House candidates,” reported Roll Call’s Paul Kane.

Gearing up for a possible presidential run, Lieberman, wrote Kane, was “trying to maintain the inroads he made [as a vice-presidential candidate in 2000] to the more progressive wing of the party….Reps. Earl Hilliard and Jesse Jackson Jr., for instance, hold strikingly different views than Lieberman on U.S. support for Israel. Both recipients of $1,000 checks from Lieberman in March, Hilliard and Jackson voted last week against a nonbinding resolution
supporting Israel in its battle with Palestinian suicide bombers, a resolution that Lieberman sponsored in the Senate.”

The story pretty much died on arrival, but it’s been revived in the Jan. 27 issue of The Weekly Standard, courtesy of Stephen F. Hayes, a staff writer at the magazine, who fleshes out some of the detail missing from the Roll Call piece.

“Last spring,” writes Hayes, “as he waited for Al Gore to decide whether to make another bid for the White House, Lieberman telephoned Eddie Bernice Johnson, then head of the Congressional Black Caucus, to ask which caucus members he might support with his PAC. She gave him a list of CBC members thought to be most vulnerable, and Lieberman contributed to almost 20 of them. Among his contributions was a $1,000 check to the reelection effort of Rep. Earl Hilliard of Alabama.

“Hilliard had a long record of hostility to Israel. He refused to sign a resolution in support of Israel’s war on terrorism, and sponsored a bill, after September 11, that would have lifted
sanctions on states that sponsor terrorism. Columnist Cynthia Tucker called Hilliard “a loose cannon, a dimwit, and perhaps a crook’ who ‘gained a reputation for trying to persuade his colleagues to vote against pro-Israeli initiatives.”….”

Hayes points out that Lieberman’s aides say the check was cut in late March, before Hilliard’s primary campaign degenerated into a nasty fight over Mideast policy. But Lieberman’s critics, writes Hayes, “say the Hilliard contribution is one example of just how far Lieberman is willing to go to win support among black politicians and voters.”

The latter criticism, of course, extends to Lieberman’s positioning on a whole host of issues and policies, and so next week the Monitor will take a further look at the man whose rather astonishing ideological dexterity suggests he must play a mean game of that old party favorite, Twister. Hmmm…Senator Twister. The Monitor likes that.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com  

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


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