County GOP chair blasts ‘surfing rabbi’s’ tirade

The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Jewish Voice for Peace-Los Angeles and Progressive Christians Uniting want Republican Party leaders to repudiate a candidate who at a Bay Area gathering this month proudly proclaimed, “I am an Islamophobe, and everything we need to know about Islam, we learned on 9/11.”

That’s Rabbi Nachum Shifren – the “surfing rabbi” from Santa Monica who’s among the 23 candidates challenging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in the upcoming primary election – speaking at a May 3 candidates’ forum cosponsored by the San Mateo County Republican Party and the MyLiberty Tea Party group.

“There should be no place for hate speech of any kind in our nation’s political discourse. Whenever one faith or ethnicity is targeted by hate, it is our duty as Americans to challenge that hatred and to instead promote mutual understanding and tolerance,” the Muslim, Christian and Jewish organizations said in a joint statement issued Monday. “We urge GOP leaders in California and nationwide to repudiate this candidate’s hate speech and to encourage greater respect for diversity within party ranks.”

San Mateo County Republican Party Chairman Chuck McDougald agreed Tuesday.

“That’s absurd, it’s ridiculous – the guy is way out of line and he does not represent the mainstream Republican Party,” said McDougald, who said he didn’t attend the May 3 forum because he was out of town. “Anyone who espouses hatred, we don’t have room for them in our party.”

McDougald said all 24 Senate candidates including Feinstein were invited to the event, but only a handful attended, including Shifren.

I’ve emailed and left a voice mail for MyLiberty’s director, but haven’t heard back from him yet.

UPDATE @ 3:07 P.M.: “I will tell you categorically I do not agree with his statement – as an individual I don’t think that’s an appropriate perspective to have,” MyLiberty director Leonard Stone said this afternoon.

In fact, he said, he’d sort of tuned Shifren out after the rabbi told another candidate his military service didn’t really count because he’d flown airplanes and never was in harm’s way on the ground.

“We had a variety of candidates and I would not suggest I agree with all those candidates by any stretch of the imagination, but every one of those candidates got polite applause at the end of their presentation,” Stone said. “We wanted them to say what they had to say, to let the public who came to the meeting see them in the way they wanted to portray themselves. … It really wasn’t a night for making judgments.”

“Speech can get messy, and people who say things have to live with it,” he said. “Everybody should speak their mind and let the chips fall where they fall.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    How about Mr Shifren’s views on the Fed and Quantitative Easing, debt swaps, the Volcker rule?