As a progressive Democrat, I am happy and proud to live in Jan Schakowsky's district. She was a major supporter of the Affordable Health Care for America Act, opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, and is committed to protecting our environment and keeping Medicare and Social Security solvent. As an American, I am also proud to live in a country that holds free and fair elections. Though I don't agree with her Republican challenger, Joel Pollak, on most of the positions he espouses, electoral choices form the backbone of our democracy, so I respect his right to challenge her in November. Voters all over the country should have choices at the polls.
But Joel Pollack is running a smear campaign with a ridiculous premise. His campaign materials state that Jan Schakowsky supports anti-Semites. One brochure includes an undated photo of Rep. Schakowsky with former White House press member Helen Thomas, a "known anti-Semite," according to Mr. Pollack.
Helen Thomas retired from the White House press corps a few months ago after making a widely-reported anti-Israel statement. She apologized, and well into her 80's, stepped down from her post. Rep Schakowsky never publicly supported Ms. Thomas.
Moreover, Ms. Schakowsky is Jewish and she belongs to an Evanston synagogue. Though I have never discussed her religious views with her, it makes no sense that a Jewish person in the public eye would also espouse anti-Semitic views.
So why is Joel Pollak resorting to smear tactics in his campaign literature? This Tea Party-backed candidate is playing the 'anti-Semite' card, however absurdly, in an effort to scare vulnerable Jewish members of Rep. Schawkosky's district into voting for him instead. Mr. Pollak, also Jewish, seems to think that a game of 'I support Jews more than you do' will benefit his campaign. He has taken on this negative and untruthful campaign tactic despite Rep. Schakowsky's extremely strong support among the Jewish community. Frequently mentioned as one of the most liberal members of Congress, Rep Schakowsky is also known as a strong supporter of Jewish causes. According to her political director, Alex Armour, she has shown unwavering support for Jewish causes and for Israel. Joel Pollak, a young lawyer who has never held an elected office, can hardly claim to support Jewish causes and Israel more than a well-regarded member of Congress who has voted with AIPAC consistently for the past dozen years.
Mr. Pollak can run on his conservative platform and try to attract voters who espouse Tea Party ideas. But implying that a tried and true supporter of Jewish causes and of Israel sides with 'anti-Semite Helen Thomas' is a highly charged smear tactic. And a really unfortunate one for another Jewish politician to make.
Though I work for PSR, they do not necessarily share the views I write about here.