web analytics
September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



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.”

Yet Specter also courted the region’s tyrants, including Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the Assads in Syria. He longed for a role brokering peace between Israel and Syria, even after his departure from the Senate.

“He visited these tyrants and he was convinced that he could convince them to moderate their policies,” Klein said. “And as we know, he never did.”

Brog said that Specter relished, from his days as a prosecutor, the challenge of going toe to toe with bad guys and getting them to stand down.

Specter’s independence took a toll on his staff, Brog said.

“Every single vote he wanted a briefing on the merits without just knowing how the party wanted the vote,” he said.

Specter was an exacting boss, Brog said, and notorious for sending staffers packing.

“Those of us who stayed with him saw this as a very good thing,” said Brog, who now serves as executive director of Christians United for Israel. “I look at my professional standards from before and after, and I see how I grew as a professional.”

The Jewish affiliates of both parties issued statements commemorating Specter’s career. Each emphasized different aspects of his career – the National Jewish Democratic Council called him a “crucial voice of moderation” and the Republican Jewish Coalition said he was a “staunch supporter of Israel.”

But the groups echoed one another in describing Specter’s higher calling: The RJC noted that he was a “devoted public servant,” and the NJDC called him a “consummate public servant.”

(JTA)

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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Protest rally against Metropolitan Opera staging Death of Klinghoffer on 9/22 at 4:30 pm at the Met.
For Grass Roots Klinghoffer Protest 9/22, Jewish Establishment MIA
Latest News Stories
Protest rally against Metropolitan Opera staging Death of Klinghoffer on 9/22 at 4:30 pm at the Met.

This Monday, starting at 4:30 p.m. ET, a rally is taking place on the steps of Lincoln Center. The rally is intended to give a voice and add faces to the ongoing furor over the Metropolitan Opera staging a wildly anti-Semitic opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer.” The opera was first staged in 1991, and is […]

A US Air Force (USAF) F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft in flight.

The Senate has approved the ‘ISIS Bill’ to train and arm 5,000 Syrian rebels against ISIS, but the American military is hoping for more.

The two Iranians had changed the photos in the stolen passports, replacing them with their own.

The victims found the bomb, began to tinker with it, and it exploded.

French fighter planes hit ISIS targets in Iraq on Friday.

A convoy of bulldozers supported by tanks reportedly entered Gaza on Friday.

Approximately 1000 Kurds, mostly women and children, are running for their lives to the Turkish border to escape ISIS (Daash).

The general did not say which variant of the missile the country bought, bu did mention the DF 21 is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

An airlift of 21 flights from El- Al Airlines flying from 10 different international locations, are bringing parents of lone soldiers serving in the IDF to Israel.

Armi fell from the 13th floor of a building, when both his rappelling cables snapped.

Gidon’s Saar’s quitting gives other Likud members the chance for promotion.

The poll shows that “Jewish Home” party members like and appreciate their current leadership.

It doesn’t matter your age, and there’s no embarrassment in other boys knowing, boys like toys that fly and that make big, loud sound, or do other cool stuff. In fact, if the boys are smart, they make it look very serious, so they can play with the toys at work too. That’s when remote […]

The people of Scotland have spoken: they will remain part of the United Kingdom.

Terrorists from Shuafat Refugee Camp opened fire at a home in Pisgat Ze’ev…

Defense official do not believe Hamas will actually begin shooting rockets at Israel over the next week or two.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas

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

Capital-Bldg-091214

“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.

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.

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

Tensions between Russia and the West are mounting over the Russian military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, with the United States and European countries threatening to impose sanctions.

Expansive outreach, of course, is nothing new for AIPAC. But in the wake of battles over Iran sanctions legislation that pitted the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse against the White House, many congressional Democrats and liberals more generally, AIPAC’s traditional emphasis on Israel as a bipartisan issue has taken on added urgency.

Administration officials and Jewish groups sympathetic to Kerry’s initiative say there is a longer-term agenda in preempting attacks on the framework peace agreement the Obama administration is expected to propose soon.

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: