web analytics
April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Home » News & Views » US »

Arlen Specter Remembered As Iconoclast Who Enjoyed Tangling With Tyrants

Arlen Specter

Arlen Specter

WASHINGTON – During his 30 years in the clubby confines of the U.S. Senate, Arlen Specter never lost his acerbic prosecutorial zeal, friends and associates say.

The insistent questions, the commitment to independence that made the longtime Pennsylvania senator a critical player in recent U.S. history, ultimately did in his career. In his 2010 bid for a sixth term, Specter lost the support of both Democrats and Republicans.

Specter, who had been the longest-serving U.S. senator from his state, died Sunday of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 82.

His iconoclasm was his brand, from the outset of his career, when he made a name for himself as the young Philadelphia assistant district attorney on the Warren Commission who first postulated that a single bullet hit both President John F. Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally.

And he wore his independence as a badge of honor. The pro-choice Republican helped fell Robert Bork’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, and then ensured Clarence Thomas’ ascension by leading what many liberal groups saw as the smearing of Anita Hill, a one-time aide to Thomas who had accused the former head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of sexually harassing her.

Specter was a pro-Israel stalwart who enjoyed his one-on-ones with some of the Middle East’s most bloodstained tyrants.

Running for district attorney in Philadelphia in 1965, he left the Democratic Party, but returned in 2009, frustrated with what he said was the Republican Party’s lurch rightward. Specter the Democrat helped pass President Obama’s health care reforms.

“He would tell me, ‘Every morning I wake up I look in the mirror and I see the toughest guy in politics,’ ” recalled Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America who first lobbied and then befriended Specter.

Specter, who represented Pennsylvania in the Senate from 1981 to 2011, was shaped by his childhood as the only Jewish kid in his class in a small Midwestern town, Russell, Kan., said David Brog, a longtime aide to Specter who eventually rose to be his chief of staff.

“He was a tough Jew,” Brog said. Specter’s upbringing – helping out his father, a peddler and scrap metal business owner, when he was barely beyond toddler age – was a factor in his pro-Israel leadership, according to Brog.

“He saw a little of Israel in himself as the only Jew in his class in Russell,” he said.

While his sisters were Orthodox, Specter himself was not outwardly religious, though he had a strong sense of Jewish identity.

Specter was a congressional leader in advancing the cause of Soviet Jews, recalled Mark Levin, who directs NCSJ, the former National Council on Soviet Jewry.

“He had a particular interest in addressing these issues through legal means,” Levin said, particularly by leveraging international human rights laws. Specter would grill his interlocutors from the Soviet Jewry activist movement, asking them to come up with new avenues to leverage the Soviet Union and other European states.

“He wanted to know what more could be done, at the most difficult time when so few people were getting out,” Levin said. “What more could we do, whom do we need to speak to, what do we need to focus on? He was tough but fair.”

Specter also helped preserve the Lautenberg Amendment, named for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), which eased immigration for refugees from persecution. Designed as a way to advance the exodus of Soviet Jews, Specter extended the amendment to minorities from other nations, including Iran.

Specter throughout his career was a pro-Israel leader, in recent years leading efforts to condition aid to the Palestinian Authority on its peace process performance. He also aimed to protect Jewish students on campuses from anti-Israel harassment.

An array of Jewish and pro-Israel groups mourned his passing.

“Time and time again, Sen. Specter worked to ensure that America’s ally had the resources necessary to defend herself and protect U.S. interests in the Middle East,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement. “He was a good friend of our organization and a leading architect of the congressional bond between our country and Israel.”

The Israeli Embassy in Washington called Specter “an unswerving defender of the Jewish state and a stalwart advocate of peace.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Arlen Specter Remembered As Iconoclast Who Enjoyed Tangling With Tyrants”

  1. Rc Fowler says:

    Arlin Specter was a Marxist Jewish dog–an extremely corrupt and evil politician!

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Car - A-Tor
Updated: Three Injured in Jerusalem Terror Attack, Ambulances and Mayor’s Car also Attacked
Latest News Stories

Several Israelis suffered minor injuries in Saturday’s devastating earthquake in Nepal that killed approximately 1,500 people, but approximately 250 Israelis are not accounted for, according to the Foreign Ministry. Communications systems have been disabled by the earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and is the latest in a series of disasters that have […]

Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Bayit Yehudi settles for three Cabinet posts. Shas to head Religious Affairs with Bayit Yehudi as Deputy.

Traffic to Maaleh Adumim

The road from Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim is closed to traffic due to Arab stone-throwing.

The officer of a Hareidi IDF unit was in Mea Shearim to visit two of his soldiers whose families have social or financial problems.

A soldier was stabbed, and a second soldier was nearly stabbed in separate attacks on Shabbat.

Three police have been injured in Jerusalem after a car ran into them. The three were walking on the sidewalk when the car slammed into them. The vehicular attack happened on the “Cohen’s Path” near Beit Orot on the Mount of Olives. One is moderately injured with pelvic injuries, and the other two are lightly […]

The airstrip, 10 miles from the Syrian border, could be used for UAV missions against Syrian rebels. Israel also is in range.

Vying for dominance in the WZO election, are movements within our nation which seek to undermine and subvert Orthodox Judaism.

Shira Klein was seriously injured in the April 15th Jerusalem terror attack that killed Shalom Yochai Sherki.

Arab media said several bases with long-range missiles were attacked on Saturday and last Wednesday.

Israel is the 11th happiest nation among 156 countries in the annual World Happiness Report for a second year. USA ranks 15.

New York’s MTA plans to vote on a change to its rules it hopes would allow it to exclude the “Killing Jews” anti-jihad ad campaign.

Biden gleefully announced two of his three Catholic children married Jews – not thrilling his Jewish audience.

In Jerusalem, the bells from 18 churches in the Old City of Jerusalem rang 100 times on Thursday evening, April 23, to remember the Armenian Genocide.

The IDF has come up with an 81-second video showing 67 years of Israeli land, sea and ground soldiers in action.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas
Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton. (archive)

Clinton derided perceptions that U.S.-Israel tensions had become tense under Obama.

“We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text.”

It’s not yet clear if Nemmouche was acting on orders and, if so, whether the orders came from ISIS.

“The Jewish community is going to have to work harder,” said one veteran official who has worked both as a professional in the Jewish community and a staffer for a Jewish lawmaker.

The disagreements don’t seem to have gone away, despite a cease-fire that appears to be firmly in place.

“On the Hill and with some people with whom I have spoken who are robust Israel supporters, people are concerned if not angry,” one of the staffers, a Democrat, told JTA

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/arlen-specter-remembered-as-iconoclast-who-enjoyed-tangling-with-tyrants/2012/10/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: