Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Rosh Hashanah, Sen. Allen

It's certainly been a confounding week for Sen. George Allen (R-VA).

Allen confirmed that his maternal grandfather, Felix Lumbroso, an Italian businessman jailed by the Nazis in North Africa, was Jewish. He then followed that by noting that while he took "great pride" in his newly discovered ancestry: "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch. And my mother made great pork chops," a comment that some found insensitive to Jews, and others found simply odd.

"From a Jewish perspective, he is as Jewish . . . as I am," Rabbi Tzvi Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, the largest association of Orthodox synagogues in the United States, told the Washington Post.

As the Post noted: "Why should anyone be offended upon being asked if he or she has Jewish ancestry? Does acting huffy in response to such a question (as Allen did when first asked, during a debate this week) imply that one believes there is something wrong with being Jewish? Or did Allen think that the questioner was implying that there was something wrong with being Jewish, since the questioner brought it up just after asking how he had learned the French slur "macaca," which some have suggested could have come from his mother, who was raised in French-speaking Tunisia, and who was, as it turns out, born Jewish . . . ? Oy."

Like I said, it's been a confounding week.

As Jews worldwide -- myself included -- prepare tonight for Rosh Hashanah, we hope for a Happy New Year or a Sweet New Year. (Rosh Hashanah meals often include apples and honey, to symbolize a "sweet new year.")

Regardless of whether he prevails over Democrat Jim Webb this November, or succumbs because of "macaca" and other issues, perhaps Allen can have a Sweet New Year as he incorporates his newfound knowledge into his 54-year-old "good ol' boy" soul. (Or at least he can learn to make better quips.)

Happy Rosh Hashanah, Sen. Allen.

11 Comments:

Anonymous trinity said...

I don't understand why Allen's religion, or that of his ancesters, would be made into an issue by the media in the first place.

It was an inappropriate question for that individual to have asked, and it begs the question of what her motive might have been in asking it.

Of course, to see the media, including JABBS, turn the issue into an attack upon Sen. Allen is not only regrettable, but quite predictable as well.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous JustWondering said...

Do you plan to donate the same amount of blog space to the candidate from Minnesota, who just happens to be Moslem, and question his Moslem ancestry?

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's clearly not his religion that's the issue. That's just a diversionary tactic by the fringe right.


The issue is how Allen has dealt with his newfound knoweldge. Poorly.

Maybe the issue is too subtle for the brainwashed Levinites among us?

4:11 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

JustWondering said...
"Do you plan to donate the same amount of blog space to the candidate from Minnesota, who just happens to be Moslem, and question his Moslem ancestry?"


I guess that's a fair question, JW. I had heard that Keith Ellison, a Muslim, just won the Democratic primary in Minnesota, but other than that, I didn't know anything about the man.

On the face of it, the fact that an American Muslim is running for national office would not upset me. I guess that's because I would assume, or at least hope, that he is a moderate Muslim, and not some sort of dangerous extremist. I do admit though, that if he were of the latter persuasion, I most certainly would have a slight problem with it. Wouldn't you?

In any case, your question prompted me to do some on-line research. You asked about the man's "ancestry". I can't really comment on that, since I do not know what his ancestry is. What I did discover was that he converted to Islam when he was 19 years old.

Also, it appears that his religion has become a campaign issue in his race for the U.S. House seat, but probably more because of his "brief" (18 mos) association with the Nation of Islam, and some editorials he wrote under the names Keith X Ellison and Keith Ellison-Muhammed during his college days.

I do not know what kind of a man Keith Ellison is, other than that he is a "progressive" Democrat. Although in the past he has defended Farrakhan from charges of being anti-Semitic, he has recently distanced himself from Farrakhan's group, and has written a letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council in Minneapolis apologizing for failing to "adequately scrutinize the positions" of Farrakhan and other Nation of Islam leaders. "They were and are anti-Semitic, and I should have come to that conclusion earlier than I did."

So to sum things up, JW, I would only say that if the good (but liberal) people of Minnesota elect this man to the House of Representatives, I guess they'll have two years to evaluate his service and see if they are happy with the man.

I know he was against the War in Iraq, and is in favor of the immediate withdrawal of our troops. He favors universal, single-payer health care coverage and an increase in the minimum wage, as well as whites paying reparations to blacks for slavery. Obviously, I would never vote for Keith Ellison, and it would have nothing whatsoever to do with his faith.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's go over this real slow, because I realize you brainwashed Levinites have trouble with reading comprehension.

1) A person's religion, or lack thereof, is of no importance in politics. Anyone who has a problem with someone because of their religion is an idiot.

2) The reason liberal blogs like JABBS are even writing about Allen is not because he has Jewish ancestry. It's because he handled that information with insensitivity.

3) The Fox reporter had every right to ask the question. It was in the news from the Foreward article two weeks earlier. Allen's campaign hadn't confirmed the information, even though it had been asked.

4) Allen was rude to the reporter. As a seasoned politican, he should have been able to answer the question without getting flustered or angry.

5) Then, once he confirmed the information, Allen was insensitive to make what I guess was an aside about how he was eating a ham sandwich and his mom still made pork chops. What is that? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, I'm not really Jewish? Again, as a seasoned politician he could have handled things much better.

Any questions?

12:18 AM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Anonymous said...
"Let's go over this real slow, because I realize you brainwashed Levinites have trouble with reading comprehension."


Another gratuitous swipe at conservatives from the very "tolerant" left. ;) What do you have against polite/civil discourse, Anon?

Anonymous said...
"Any questions?"


No questions, but I would just like to point out how inconsistent you sound. On the one hand you are saying that a person's religion is of no importance in politics, and on the other, you are defending the reporter's intrusion into Allen's personal religious family background. Either it's newsworthy and an issue in his campaign, or it's not. Which is it?

And I would say that to me, it sounded like the reporter was rude to Allen, not the other way around. And if you heard the audio, you would know that many in the audience found the question to be offensive even before Allen said a word.

Whether or not Allen could have handled things better than he did is irrelevant. The people who are making such a big deal out of this, and the "Macaca" comment are not people who would be voting for Allen to begin with. They're just looking to embarrass the Senator.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Dave G. said...

The people who are making such a big deal out of this, and the "Macaca" comment are not people who would be voting for Allen to begin with. They're just looking to embarrass the Senator.

No, that's incorrect. A few things:

1. The question by the reporter WAS weird, odd, and inappropriate, and came across very strangely. However, if he talks about his faith all the time - which he does - and has a Jewish mother, that's not necessarily irrelevant.

2. Allen reacted totally bizarro to this. Instead of doing what Albright and Kerry did, which is to laugh it off and say, "Hey, I guess I have a Jewish relative," he rambled on and on about "casting aspersions," as if having a Jewish relative is a bad thing.

3. "Macaca" was a newsworthy story. The people writing about it are in the media, not Virginia voters, and to utter an epithet is a newsworthy occurrence and may suggest something about the person's character. Plus, the guy said it ON CAMERA - it wasn't any kind of hearsay mystery.

4. George Allen is only embarrassing himself by continuing most of this through his idiotic statements. He's clearly been shaken off kilter by this.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

Dave G. said...
"However, if he talks about his faith all the time - which he does - and has a Jewish mother, that's not necessarily irrelevant."


But Dave G., both Sen. Allen and his mother are Christians. It seems to me that what religion they choose to practice, if any, should be their own personal decisons.

I know not all Jews believe in matriarchal descent. As Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner of the Foundation for Family Education has said, "Judaism is a religion, a community of faith and identity, and it has nothing to do with "Jewish blood."

4:36 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

anonymous said...
"The Fox reporter had every right to ask the question. It was in the news from the Foreward article two weeks earlier. Allen's campaign hadn't confirmed the information, even though it had been asked."


Perhaps they didn't respond because they felt it wasn't anyone's business? I thought we all agreed that one's religion should not be an issue when running for public office. Didn't we conquer that demon when John F. Kennedy was elected to office?

Oh, and just as an aside, the reporter was not from "Fox". Peggy Fox was the woman reporter's name.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Just to provide a little context, here's an item from today's Washington Post (Howard Kurtz's media column):

It remains unclear why Channel 9's Peggy Fox posed the question to Allen during his debate with Democratic challenger James Webb. Was this a matter of pressing importance to the voters of Virginia?

Fox, who is described on WUSA's Web site as "a Fairfax County native who married her West Springfield High School sweetheart," declined to be interviewed. In an e-mail, she says: "I would love to talk to you to tell you why I asked the question. But I am not the story. Senator Allen is. I will tell you I asked the question because I wanted to find out if he was hiding a heritage he really should be proud of (like most Americans are) because he felt acknowledging his roots could cost him votes.

"The question had been asked before and not answered. To me, it doesn't matter what religion someone is, but not being genuine does. The voters have a right to know if the candidates are who they say they are."

In an e-mail response to viewers, Fox also says: "I regret the way I worded the question and the way Senator Allen turned the spotlight onto the question itself without addressing the bigger political issue which could be relevant to the campaign."

But what is the "bigger" issue? When Allen threw the question back at her, demanding to know why it was relevant, she replied, "Honesty." Was Fox essentially accusing the candidate of lying?

In a way, the Allen campaign opened the door to Fox's question by not providing answers to the Jewish newspaper the Forward, which reported late last month that Allen's mother, Henrietta, a French Tunisian, was "likely" Jewish by birth. A week earlier, the senator's staff told Time's Mike Allen that they were not familiar with any Jewish background. The reporter says he suggested that they ask Allen if his mother has Jewish roots, "and the response was that he didn't think she does."

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Dave G. said...

But Dave G., both Sen. Allen and his mother are Christians. It seems to me that what religion they choose to practice, if any, should be their own personal decisons.
Of course it is. But at the same time he's spoken of how his grandfather was imprisoned by the Nazis. So it begs the question. By no means am I saying he has no right to pursue the religion he wants; he can do as he pleases. I, too, thought the question was weird and oddly-phrased/timed. But his freak-out was all the more strange.

I thought we all agreed that one's religion should not be an issue when running for public office.
True, but he brings it up often -- as do George Bush and a lot of other people. So why not ask about this wrinkle in his family? We do have open discussions about it, do we not?

7:30 PM  

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