Several days ago, in the course of talking about the New York mayoral race, Daily News columnist E.R. Shipp noted the flap last year over Hillary Clinton's being endorsed by a Muslim group and the hullabaloo surrounding a Hamas group's endorsement of Mark Green. Ms. Shipp then went on to observe:
Why, pray tell, does one give a hoot about Israel and Palestine when one is trying to become New York City's Mayor? Why, pray tell, does one care about which side is the more terrorist, the Israelis or the Palestinians? Why pray tell, does this have anything to do with whether my garbage is picked up, the cops are shooting my neighbors or empty buildings are transformed into spaces that my friends and I might want to live in?…I couldn't care less whether the Muslims who want Green for mayor because he can perhaps deliver city services also hate Israel. That's between them and Israel….
In truth, we here at The Jewish Press have often remarked about how aspirants for local political office pander to certain voter groups about issues they can do nothing about. Most recently, we addressed this point in connection with the tuition voucher issue. And we are not all that sure that a candidate should automatically be excoriated because of an unsolicited endorsement.
But as an organ of the Jewish community, we take offense at the way Ms. Shipp made her point. Ms. Shipp is African-American and we have no doubt about what she would say if a candidate for New York City office would be endorsed by, say, the White Power Party or the Ku Klux Klan or whatever party David Duke heads up. Nor would she be so dismissive about the government of South Africa as she was about Israel.
Giving “a hoot about Israel and Palestine”? …”Which side is the more terrorist, the Israelis or Palestinians”? … “Whether the Muslims who want Green for mayor … also hate Israel … that's between them and Israel”? This is the way a serious columnist writes?
There may be some question about what a candidate should or should not do about an endorsement. But one thing is certain. Ms. Shipp's piece revealed a lot more about her than about Mrs. Clinton and Mark Green.
Mort Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News, is the recently elected Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Despite our firm belief in journalistic freedom, we believe this gross example of journalistic license must be addressed.