Ralph Nader, that master of controversy, has a new bete noire: the Anti-Defamation League. The independent presidential candidate has become embroiled in an ugly exchange with the Jewish organization, after he suggested that President Bush and Congress were "puppets" of the Israeli government.
"The days when the chief Israeli puppeteer comes to the United States and meets with the puppet in the White House and then proceeds to Capitol Hill, where he meets with hundreds of other puppets, should be replaced," Nader said earlier this summer. That prompted an angry letter from the league, which complained that the "image of the Jewish state as a 'puppeteer,' controlling the powerful US Congress feeds into many age-old stereotypes which have no place in legitimate public discourse."
Ralph Nader said President Bush and Congress were "puppets" of the Israeli government.
Nader is not backing down. In a letter to the group that will be released today, he reiterated his arguments, challenged the league to cite a recent example of when American leaders have pursued a policy opposed by the Israeli government and pointed to Israeli peace groups that he said share his criticism of that country's leadership. "There is far more freedom in the media, in town squares and among citizens, soldiers, elected representatives and academicians in Israel to debate and discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than there is in the United States," Nader wrote.
The longtime consumer advocate's willingness to criticize Israel may win him some votes, since both Bush and Democratic nominee John F. Kerry strongly support Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. But not if Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the league has anything to say about it. "What he said smacks of bigotry," Foxman said.
The Road to the Hill
Catching up with congressional elections this week: In Georgia, Tom Price, a former state legislator, defeated fellow Republican Robert Lamutt in the state's runoff Tuesday. He will go directly to Congress, since Democrats there were unable to field a challenger. Price will replace Rep. Johnny Isakson (R), who is vacating the seat to run for the Senate.
Connecticut voters picked Democrat Jim Sullivan to challenge Rep. Rob Simmons (R), in a race Democrats consider one of their best chances to unseat a GOP incumbent.
Meanwhile, both parties are still waiting to see who will face Colorado Democrat John Salazar for the House seat of retiring Rep. Scott McInnis (R). Salazar is the brother of Attorney General Ken Salazar, who is the Democratic candidate for Senate. Two of John Salazar's GOP rivals were separated by just a few hundred votes and were waiting for election officials there to count provisional ballots. The district -- the state's third -- is considered a tossup.