Forward Thinking

Grace Meng Plays the Israel Card

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Grace Meng

Grace Meng has discovered her inner Israel hawk.

Meng is the New York City Councilwoman who won a Democratic congressional primary in Gary Ackerman’s district in Queens this summer.

In an op-ed in the Jewish Week yesterday, Meng suggested that President Obama “could have been — and still can be — a greater friend to Israel.”

The column channels Bob Turner, the Republican Congressman who last fall won a huge upset in a special election in a district that overlaps with Meng’s after Ed Koch declared that the race was a referendum on Obama’s Israel policy.

Especially since Turner’s victory, the hawkish pro-Israel line has been a constant theme in that corner of Queens. But it’s not a role that Meng played during the primaries.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: queens, israel, grace meng, gary ackerman, bob turner, rory lancman

Being Super Pro-Israel Doesn't Win Elections

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Getty Images
Bob Turner: Relegated to the political dustbin

Results were mixed last night for New York City congressional hopefuls who ran on their pro-Israel credentials.

In Brooklyn, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries trounced Councilman Charles Barron in a Democratic congressional primary where Barron’s harsh criticism of Israel was a major issue.

But in Queens, Councilwoman Grace Meng received nearly twice as many votes as Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who made much of his right-wing pro-Israel platform.

The results don’t add much clarity to the question of how Republican Bob Turner really won his Queens special election last September. Both the Meng and Jeffries races took place in districts that include portions of the heavily Jewish district that Turner won nine months ago.

Some claimed the shocking victory for Turner was a referendum against Obama’s Israel policy, while others suggested his Democratic opponent’s vote in support of gay marriage was more significant. The answer could help political hopefuls win support in the area’s large Orthodox and Russian-speaking Jewish communities.

Lancman apparently thought that hawkish talk on Israel won it for Turner. In the Queens race, Lancman talked a lot about Israel — so much that his opponents criticized him for it during a televised debate. Lancman’s resounding defeat could signal that his unremitting focus on the Jewish State during the campaign was a bit too much for Queens voters.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Queens, Rory Lancman, Hakeem Jeffries, Charles Barron, Brooklyn, Bob Turner

Too Much Israel in a Queens Race?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Rory Lancman

How big a role should Israel play in a local election in Queens?

Not very, New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley argued during a debate last night between the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in New York’s Sixth Congressional District.

The NY-6 race pits State Assemblyman Rory Lancman against State Assemblywoman Grace Meng and Crowley for the seat now held by Gary Ackerman, who is retiring.

Crowley, whose candidacy doesn’t have the backing of her uncle, the chair of the Queens County Democratic Party, was attacking Lancman, who has made his hawkish position on Israel a centerpiece of his campaign.

Lancman has run to the right of Ackerman on Israel, criticizing him for his short-lived alliance with the dovish pro-Israel group J-Street.

A June 11 Lancman fundraiser was hosted by a handful of prominent New York Israel hawks, including Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, the CUNY trustee who attempted to block playwright Tony Kushner from receiving an honorary degree over his left-wing views on Israel, and Joe Frager, organizer of the annual pro-settler Israel concert in Central Park.

At this year’s Israel day parade, Lancman and Republican Congressman Bob Turner were photographed with a pantheon of right-wing Zionist leaders, including Helen Friedman of Americans for a Safe Israel, Likud MK Danny Danon, and Frager.

During last night’s debate, Crowley hit Lancman for talking too much about Israel during the race.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rory Lancman, Queens, Israel




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