October 24, 2014 · 30 Tishrei

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Campaign is No Place to Spread Hate: Reform Jewish Leader

Saperstein: The electoral success which Senator Obama has enjoyed suggests that we have come far as a nation and moved toward the moment when “optics” such as skin color is not a proper subject for political debate. Rep. King’s comments remind us that we still have far to go before we reach that day.

Contact Sean Thibault
news@rac.org | 202.387.2800

WASHINGTON, MARCH 11 -- In response to comments made by Rep. Steve King of Iowa concerning the Presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The Religious Action Center never supports or opposes any candidate for public office.  That does not mean, of course, that we ignore racist or other hate speech just because it occurs in the context of the political campaign.  We, therefore, must voice our outrage at the profoundly offensive comments by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) concerning the Presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama.

What is offensive about Rep. King’s statement is that it centers on who Senator Obama is.  Referring to what he called “the radical Islamists, the al-Qa'ida and the radical Islamists and their supporters.” Rep. Kings told a Spencer, Iowa radio station that “They’ll be dancing in the streets because of [Senator Obama’s]…middle name.  They’ll be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says, ‘Pull out of the middle east.  Pull out of this conflict.’”

How do we interpret Rep. King’s concern about, in his own less-than felicitous phrase, “the optics of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected president of the United States?”   The electoral success that Senator Obama has enjoyed suggests that we have come far as a nation and moved toward the moment when “optics” such as skin color is not a proper subject for political debate. Rep. King’s comments remind us that we still have far to go before we reach that day.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more
 than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership
 includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis



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