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It’s still not going away

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006

The governor attended a Holocaust memorial ceremony in Springfield yesterday, which dredged up some bad memories.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich joined Jewish leaders for an annual ceremony observing the Holocaust on Wednesday, the first public gathering since he angered many of them by standing by his appointment of a Louis Farrakhan aide to a state panel.

Federation leaders publicly thanked Blagojevich for his participation in the program, jointly sponsored by the governor’s office and several Jewish federations from around Illinois.

But several community leaders said relations are still strained with the governor, who has refused to remove Claudette Muhammad from his hate crime commission. Muhammad is the minister of protocol for the Nation of Islam and has declined to condemn recent anti-gay and anti-Semitic statements by Farrakhan.

After the event, held at the Old State Capitol, Blagojevich said he thinks his relationship with Jewish leaders is strong.

“Relationships have always been very good and, I think, continue to be very good,” he said. As for whether the Muhammad controversy had harmed his relationship with Jewish voters, Blagojevich said, “Those things don’t enter my mind.”

But others who attended the Holocaust commemoration said they think Blagojevich still needs to repair his bonds with the community.

The Sun-Times adds:

But key Jewish leaders said Blagojevich must engage in serious fence-mending if he intends to keep Jewish voters from aligning themselves this fall with Republican gubernatorial nominee Judy Baar Topinka, who attended Wednesday’s observance.

“Without him attacking this and coming up with some solutions to resolve this issue, he’s going to alienate a lot of Jewish voters,” said state Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), who was among the speakers at Wednesday’s event. “If he lets this fester, it’ll get worse.”

Steven Nasatir, president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, said he was encouraged by Blagojevich’s presence at the Holocaust observance but agreed that the governor has not done anything to ease the frustrations Jews have experienced from his handling of the hate-crimes commission controversy.

“For us, the issue is one of important principle, and there continues to be disappointment and pain connected to this matter,” Nasatir said.

Claiming everything is fine when it obviously isn’t is probably not a good idea. At best he looks disingenuous. At worst he looks like an uncaring jerk.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bill Baar - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 6:28 am:

    I belong to a Liberal Church. They’re having meetings now on reclaiming America from the Religious right.

    I’m telling them when we meet again next Sunday, one of the reasons the left is having a hard time relcaiming American from anyone is because so many leftists and liberals choke at condeming a no brainer like this.

  2. - Not him again - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 7:46 am:

    It is always a somber kind of event to attend, but this year it was actually very frosty… that issue was like the elephant in the room nobody wanted to talk about. Afterwards, Topinka made some good points about Rod’s lack of leadership on htis.

  3. - Cassandra - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 7:48 am:

    It has always been my impression that the Jewish community is small votewise and is also, as a group, pretty far left on the political spectrum. Nothing wrong with that, I hasten to ad.

    However, if I am correct, Blago is handling the issue correctly…showing up at an important celebration and denying any serious problems.
    Worse that can happen, the Jewish community stays home or votes for JBT en masse. Either way, it won’t hurt Blago. He just has to stay civil here.

    Unless your issue is backed by huge voting numbers or huge amounts of corrupt cash, it doesn’t get heard in Illinois.

  4. - Backyard Conservative - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 8:52 am:

    The governor is taking the votes of the Jewish community for granted. And he is as Rich says, “an uncaring jerk”.

  5. - Randall Sherman - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 9:48 am:

    Rod is a jerk; no question about that. And the state’s Jewish community is known for its excellent memory of who not to vote for.

    Perhaps Farrakhan can give Rod a job selling The Final Call on State Street after Topinka’s inauguration!

  6. - Pat Hickey - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 10:11 am:


    There is a great corner at 79th & South Chicago - right under the Skyway, across from the Regal Theatre, intersected with Stony Island; The Haircut Who Walks would sell many copies there.

    I doubt if he would be trusted with bean pie sales though.

  7. - Niles Township - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 10:23 am:

    To : Cassandra - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 7:48 am:

    “It has always been my impression that the Jewish community is small votewise and is also, as a group, pretty far left on the political spectrum. Nothing wrong with that, I hasten to ad.”

    Like any ethnic/religious group, Jewish voters represent a wide range of views. The Republican Jewish Coalition (a national group) has an active Chicago chapter. While many Jews are liberal Democrats, many are moderate Democrats, liberal Republicans, and believe it or not, even conservative Republicans. Voter studies have shown that Jewish voters by and large almost double their population strength in elections because they have a higher turnout rate than most other groups. There are 270,000 Jews in the Chicagoland area. With other pockets of Jews throughout the state, there are certainly over 300,000 Jews in Illinois. In a close election, that is a lot of votes, and could be a difference maker.

  8. - Backyard Conservative - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 10:30 am:

  9. - Pat Collins - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 10:52 am:

    Jewish community is small votewise

    Tell that to Sen. Chuck Percy. And do you know how dick Durbin got his start in Fed. politics?

    Niles Township

    How do you get that 300K number? I thought it was rather higher.

  10. - Little Egypt - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 11:43 am:

    Did Blago show up on time for the ceremony?

  11. - DOWNSTATE - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 12:09 pm:

    Has any Jewish leader endorsed anyone except Blago.

  12. - A Jewish Person - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 1:42 pm:

    The 300,000 number is about right.

    Pat Collins’ point about Percy is a great one.

    This election will be won on the margins. Narrow interest groups and small populations will make the difference in the end.

    Ironically, this election may resemble the George Ryan vs Poshard campaign in some ways.

  13. - A Jewish Person - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 1:44 pm:

    According to this site, the state of IL Jewish population is about 270,000, 2.2%.

  14. - Bob - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 3:28 pm:

    Blago ignored this issue in the primary because he had nothing to lose. Eisendrath was getting the Jewish vote and he did not want to hurt his black base. Maybe that was good thinking for the primary, but he will need the Jewish vote in the general. If they swing to JBT it is a double whammy-he loses votes from his base to the repub.

  15. - Criminal Enterprise Called Illinois - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 5:20 pm:

    I can’t believe he risked his hairdo to wear a yarmuke. I almost threw up when I saw him in one. What a fraud! What next? Corn rows and braids? This kid has no shame!

  16. - Former Michigander - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 9:11 pm:

    Call me crazy for making this statement with this being my first IL election cycle, but I see a Blago win in this blue state, with Jews voting their typical 70+% for the Democrats. While I voted for fellow-Jew Eisendrath in the primary for no other reason than the Governor’s tone deaf response to the Jewish Community, I see little chance that this blue state and the blue Jews will vote for a loose cannon such as Topinka. The lady comes across to me, as someone with no history in this state but as a reader of history, as a total flake.

  17. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 27, 06 @ 9:37 pm:

    FM, I think that’s a good point. But people here know JBT more, so they’ve kinda grown accustomed to that. Still, what you mentioned is certainly the message that Blagojevich’s campaign is shooting for.

  18. - capitol view - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 4:41 pm:

    check the campaign contributions coming in for the two candidates — there are a lot of first time Jewish contributors to JBT. Anyone who takes the Jewish vote for granted and assumes its usual 70% Democratic vote for Governor this time is going to be very surprised. After Adlai Stevenson’s anti-Israel late in term votes as a US Senator, he lost 15%, or roughly 15,000 - 20,000 votes to Jim Thompson — who scored the expected vote share from every segment of the Illinois electorate but Jewish voters. Thompson beat Stevenson by 5,000 votes. If I were advising Blagojevich, I would say - do what a man of principle in the Governor’s Office should do in this situation, and resolve the crisis.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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