Lieberman Refutes Loyalty Questions

USA Today - Laurence McQuillan - August 15, 2000


Lieberman's unprincipled stand on the Pollard case is an attempt to innoculate himself against charges of dual loyalty. Justice4JP does not endorse or oppose any candidate in the Presidential elections. Justice4JP does however see it as our responsibility to the public to reveal how any candidate's position on the Pollard case is a reflection of that candidate's commitment to the truth, or alternately a reflection of his willingness to subvert principles of honesty, justice, and fair play to political goals. See Justice4JP Media Release 08/16/00. See also Lieberman's Dual Loyalty Problem 04/07/2000.

CLEVELAND - Joe Lieberman, the first Jew to be named to a major party's national ticket, says he was "hurt" by remarks of some black leaders who question whether his loyalties would be stronger to Israel than to the United States.

"My first and only loyalty is to America," the Connecticut senator and vice-presidential candidate said in a phone interview. "In my very heart this is true."

At a new conference in Los Angeles before the starts of today's Democratic National Convention, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan questioned whether Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, would "be more faithful to the Constitution ... than to the ties that any Jewish person would have to the state of Israel."

It was the second time in a week that a black leader had questioned Lieberman's ties to the Jewish state. Lee Alcorn, head of the NAACP chapter in Dallas, was forced to resign last week after raising similar issues and making disparaging remarks about Jews.

Farrakhan has a history of anti-Semitic remarks, though he recently recanted his past views.

Farrakhan has described Jews as "bloodsuckers" who practice a "gutter religion." Of American Jews, he has said: "You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. ... You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell."

In 1999, he said a near-death experience with prostate cancer left him a changed man. He stood with rabbis, Catholic priests and Muslim clerics and called on people of the world to "try to end the cycle of violence and the cycle of hatred."

Discussing the sensitive issue of relations between blacks and Jews, Lieberman said in the interview that the comments "do hurt, but they have been by a distinct minority."

Lieberman said in the interview that his selection by Vice President Gore has generated positive feedback from most black leaders. He said he hopes to discuss the issue with Farrakhan soon.

"There have been some breaks between these two communities in the last decade or two," he said, but "this is a moment of opportunity to deepen the ties."

He acknowledged that Internet chat rooms, where anti-Semitic remarks have flourished since his announcement last week, have saddened him.

"I believe the country is in a very tolerant stage ... and am confident that those expressions of hatred will remain a small minority," he said.

Lieberman was to join Gore, who was campaigning in Ohio on Sunday, in St. Louis tonight before heading to the Democratic convention. Gore arrives in Los Angeles on Wednesday, the day Lieberman accepts the party's vice-presidential nomination.

On other subjects Lieberman discussed in the interview:

He said he finds it baffling that Republicans have tried so hard to find differences between his views and those of Gore. He said some of their examples "are accurate, and some are overstated, and some are just wrong."

Lieberman acknowledges it will be a little awkward for him at the convention because of his highly visible criticism of the entertainment industry in the past.

"I don't think the folks in Hollywood are bad people, but I wish they would cut back on gratuitous sex and violence," Lieberman said. He noted that Tipper Gore had expressed similar concerns in her campaign several years ago about the content of music lyrics. "I'm going to talk to Al about this," he said.

Noting their friendship of 15 years, Lieberman says he's baffled by Gore's public image. "He has such character and intellect. He's a really good guy. I don't know why that's not getting out," Lieberman said.

Lieberman spent the morning shuttling from talk show to talk show. He told CNN's Late Edition that he welcomed President Clinton's recent expression of remorse in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

And on several shows, he discussed a variety of policy differences with Gore, ranging from school vouchers, which Lieberman has supported, to his backing of Proposition 209 in California. That proposition, passed by voters but tied up in the courts, would eliminate affirmative action.

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