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The McCloskey-McNerney alliance poses dilemma for Jews

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006 at 12:26 pm in congressional district 11.

It’s a curious thing.

Ex-congressman Pete McCloskey lost the GOP primary in Congressional District 11 to Rep. Richard Pombo.

But letters to editor slamming the guy are still popping up?

Why bother? He lost.

A Tampa, Fla., man wrote to the Tracy Press last week. Why would a Florida man write to a Tracy newspaper?

A staffer with Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton, wrote an unflattering letter about McCloskey earlier this month, also in the Tracy Press. A Tracy man wrote another that ran today. At least these writers live in California.

And finally, Michael Grossman of Pleasanton challenged area Rabbi Judith Seid’s letter in the Contra Costa Times applauding McCloskey’s endorsement of Pombo’s Democratic challenger, Jerry McNerney.

What’s going on here?

It’s the underside of the McCloskey-McNerney alliance: : McNerney needs moderate Republican votes that McCloskey claimed in the primary but McCloskey has baggage.

The letters to the editor all focus on allegations that the former congressman is an anti-Semite. The Florida letter was written by a volunteer at the state’s Holocaust museum who is pursuing a master’s degree in history.

McCloskey not only delivered a speech to a Holocaust-denier group, where he said he didn’t know if the Holocaust happened or not, but he co-founded a national, pro-Palestinian organization called the Council for the National Interest. The organization sent a delegation to Palestine earlier this year that met with extremist Hamas leaders.

McCloskey adamantly denies the charges of anti-Semitism in a rebuttal letter in the Tracy Press.

“That the Holocaust occurred is undeniable,” McCloskey wrote. “I have personally visited one of the Nazi death camps, perused the official records of the U.S. Army units that liberated several others and talked with a number of Holocaust survivors, both Jewish and Polish.”

He also wrote that it is not anti-Semitic to question Israel’s actions or call for reforms in U.S. policies in the Middle East.

McCloskey can say all he wants but for Democrats Michael Grossman and his wife, Deborah, the former congressman’s actions speak louder than his words.

Their only remaining question is this: What to do about McNerney?

Deborah has volunteered in the past for McNerney’s campaign but the couple says they can’t vote for him unless he publicly denounces McCloskey’s Middle East politics.

“I want to hear it from McNerney that he will not be influenced by McCloskey’s views on this subject,” Michael said during a telephone interview at his home today.

And they have friends who agree, people who voted for President George Bush in 2002 rather than Democratic candidate John Kerry because they felt Bush more strongly supported Israel.

Does that mean the Grossmans will vote for Pombo?

No. They aren’t ready to go that far.

But they may skip McNerney and cast no vote at all.

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