Looks Bad for Lieberman

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It looks like Joe Lieberman will be defeated in the primary today. He’s fighting a political neophyte with a lot of money and one issue: opposition to the Iraq war.

Democrats would like to get rid of an 18-year Senate veteran, former Vice Presidential candidate, and “conscience of the Senate” because he actually thinks that fighting terrorists on their own turf is a better idea than waiting for the next 9/11. Fortunately, what we really have is further evidence that Americans, as compared to Europeans, see things much more reasonably — although Connecticut is a “blue” (Democratic-leaning) state, Lamont will lose to Lieberman in November should the latter run as an independent.

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25 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    If the Senator now understands that any of his prior positions on social issues were incorrect, he should say so. We are not mind readers. We believe in “truth in advertising”.

  2. Harry Maryles says:

    You know, I am sickened by those who castigate Senator Lieberman’s level of observance. Is there any one of you who can stand up and say you have never sinned? Have none of you ever advocated something you believed to be Halachicly correct… only to find out tht it isn’t?! You are all guilty of bieng “holier than thou”… the Chazir feesil of Yuahara!

    Those of you who love to point out his faults are worse than gossip mongers. You are being Motzire Laz… tearing down a man who has been looked upon by much of the secular world as representative of observant Judaism. And in doing so you tear down the Torah right along with it.

    Senator Lieberman is walking Kiddush HaShem, in spite of his ignorrance of the Torah viewpoint on certain subjects. One should not judge another based on only his mistakes. One needs to look at the totality of the man. To see what how he leads his life, since he became a Bal Teshuva. To look at it in totality. To see how he is perceived by his peers. He is known as the concience of the senate. He is recognized as an Orhtodox Jew. Disparaging him is disparaging Torah to the nations, by dint of that association. One is required by Torah law to judge his fellow Jew L’Kaf Z’chus. Those of you who bash him now, are surly not following this Halachic dictum. Where is your esponsibilty to your fellow Jew? Kol Yisroel Areivim Zeh LaZeh.

    Senator Lieberman’s primary loss is a loss for Orthodox Jewry and a loss for the nation. I’m not sure he can win the general election in the fall. He will be running against an anti-war candidate who represents the core Democrat constituancy of a liberal “blue” state. He will also be running agianst the Republican nomineee. Senator Lieberman will not have the support of his fellow Democrats who have already pledged support for primary winner Ned Lamont. Lamont will also have the organizational capablities of the democrat party aparatus.

    Bearing all that in mind, I believe it is an uphill battle. I hope I am wrong. We’ll have to wait and see. But… if Senator Lieberman pulls this off, it will be an amazing victory and will give him even greater freedom to vote his concience that he had before.

  3. Aryeh says:

    What I don’t understand is the current assumption that civil war in Iraq is a “failure.” To my knowledge, there has been no discussion of what US interests in such a civil war would be and how they would be served. Let me suggest an analogy. Would a civil war between Fatah and Hamas be in Israel’s interests?
    Where does this assumption of civil war==failure come from. It’s true that if the goal was an Iraq that looks like Belgium or Switzerland, then it is a failure (and if that was Bush’s goal that he did fail). But why is it a failure from a US security point of view?

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid-Let\’s be absolutely open. Our troops who are guarding potential Jihadists in Guantanamo have been subjected to suicide threats and staged incidents of abuse and escape by these would be terrorists who are soldiers in a war without boundaries. It remains to be seen whether Congress will deem them to be entitled to the protections of the Bill of Rights. As far as the abuses by American troops, they pale in comparison to the havoc wracked by Saddam\’s regime on his people.As far as the intelligence info that was relied upon to invade Iraq, Clinton\’s administration used the same to enforce the no fly rules that were in force since Gulf War I. The simple facts are that Clinton allowed terror to metastasize after 1993 and allowed both Saddam and Bin Laden to coordinate their efforts against their common enemies-Israel and the US.

  5. Reb Yid says:

    Michael:

    No point in going back and forth ad nauseum about Iraq. We can agree to disagree.

    My original comment was about Jews having nothing to apologize for by voting against Lieberman. For many Jews (not for everyone, mind you, like yourself), regardless of religious or political orientation, Iraq provides them with a clear reason to do so.

    Think of all the $$ that could have been more efficiently bid upon or spent elsewhere (even for school vouchers, if that’s your cup of tea) instead of on Iraq–with little to show for it. Indeed, the Iraqis are now by and large opposed to the US (even though they initially welcomed us), due to US bombing of civilian areas (however unintentional they may have been) and systematic abuse of prisoners.

    This administration didn’t “get” that our representatives and troops in Iraq actually needed to model and embody the democracy that they wished to export. Internally, the adminstration also systematically bypassed our democratic institutions. That’s what brought his support down abroad and across the nation. Platitudes from Bush like “stay the course” are not enough. Bush doesn’t “get” that you need to walk the walk, too.

    Even if you happen to believe the arrogant “trust us, we can do whatever we want, we know best” rhetoric of this administration…even if you believe we were right in going to Iraq…even if you believe we need to still be there in full force….surely there are issues of mismanagement and inefficiency which could have been avoided or minimized if the administration was under more careful scrutiny.

    There’s something wrong if you hear more from pro-war Republicans Lindsey Graham and Arlen Specter criticizing various aspects of US Iraq involvement than you do from Lieberman, who is supposedly renowed for working with his Republican counterparts.

    As for a Jew wishing to turn the clock back 20 years, that comment is particularly ironic. Israel’s own leaders used that precise language a month ago when threatening to destroy Lebanon after the Hezbollah kidnappings.

  6. HILLEL says:

    Yaakov:
    You\’re right. Rav Feinstein is not alive to guide us taday. But he personally handed me a letter addressed to Mayor Koch and the New York City Council, which addresses the very same issues embodied in this Agudas Horabanim letter, and he made the same points.

    Therefore, this Agudas Horabonim letter accurately reflects the position of Rav Moshe Feinstein, ZT\”L.

    Here is a copy of Rav Feinstein\’s original letter to Mayor Koch and the City Council:

    The following is a letter from February, 1983, by the leadership of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, concerning a \”gay rights\” bill then before the City Council of New York.


    ENGLISH TRANSLATION

    In reference to Intro No. 1 (the pending N.Y.C. \”GAY RIGHTS\” Bill), we hereby declare that it is a sacred obligation upon every person to do everything in his power to influence each and every member of the City Council to vote against that bill.

    We demand that every City Councilman be present in the Council chamber during the vote and that he vote against the bill.

    We request all those that heed us to attend the hearings of the (General Welfare) Committee at City Hall, beginning on Tuesday, February 22, 1983; to fill the galleries and thus to demonstrate for all to see that G-D\’s people loathe all that G-D abominates. May this month that marked a turning point in our history from tragedy to joy, be turned to joy for us as well.

    THE UNION OF ORTHODOX RABBIS OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA

    Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
    President

    Rabbi Hersh M. Ginsberg
    Director

  7. David N. Friedman says:

    Michael, of course you are correct on all points made in an attempt to bring Rabbi Yid to heal.

    I suppose when much of the world is blaming the war in Iraq on the Jews, it is fine to stand up and say–yes–we support the war that Bush, Blair, and the civilized world agreed was important together with much of the Democratic Party who also signed up to prosecute it–all Christians. It is good for us to be leaders in this war and to explain to the rest of the world that is still on the fence, the stakes in the victory.

    It is to Lieberman’s credit that he would not join those frothing at the mouth in anti-peace and anti-American sentiment even though they were loyalists in his own party. This does not make his betrayal of Jewish values on social and other issues palatable, rather, it simply makes him a moderate in the Democratic Party that once had peace-loving and patriotic citizens. Choosing the right side of the war, when we are in the middle of the war, is important and not to be taken for granted in the shameful Democratic Party.

    I believe that Israel can win its war and Iraq can be stablized. However, I have real worries that the Democratic Party might be tipping over the edge, intoxicated with lies, siding the terrorists, fighting the most moderate and honest President this nation has had in many generations.

    I believe that even though most of us strongly support the “better” party, the Republican, it is in our interests to mute our criticisms of Mr. Lieberman since he is perhaps the best thing going in the Democratic Party. If, as a liberal, Lamont will not be much worse, on the issue of war and peace, Lieberman is so much better.

    Out of office, Lieberman cannot help bring some sanity to the Democrats and without our pressure, Lieberman cannot be made to understand that there is a grave disconnect between his Orthodox faith and his public policy stands. It does not help at all if Lieberman is replaced by Ned Lamont. And it is best that we keep Lieberman around to complain about instead of even greater liberal ones like the twin disasters in California that are so far gone, they could never be shamed by their lack of Jewish pride.

  8. Michael says:

    Reb Yid,

    You sound much like John Kerry, who voted for the $84 million before he voted against it. The reason why you supported the war is because the liars who propogated this “sham” of Iraq’s pursuit of WMDs include Kerry himself, Al Gore, Bill (and Hillary) Clinton, and every intelligence agency of every government in the civilized world.

    Clinton and Gore had access to the same intelligence estimates George Bush had when they were in the White House. The foreign agencies were writing up the same stuff themselves. All of them concluded that Hussein wasn’t refusing access to weapons inspectors because he was having a bad hair day. He had previously used WMDs, as we all know, and immediately before the war sent a large number of trucks over the border to Syria. Have you inspected Syria, such that you know for certain this was a sham?

    Bush is suffering because he underestimated to what extent Arabs have been educated to prefer jihad over civilized government. As that incredible bit of stupidity called the Oslo “Peace” agreement aptly demonstrated, conservatives are hardly the only ones guilty of this error.

    While the strength of Iran is unaffected by the war, you are right that with Saddam out of power, there are suicide bombings in Iraq regularly. When Saddam was in power, he killed far more citizens than the suicide bombers ever will (at this rate), and meanwhile the suicide bombings were not in Baghdad, but Jerusalem.

    It’s hard to believe that a Jew would want to turn back the clock.

  9. Bob Miller says:

    1. If Senator Lieberman believed in the positions cited by Hillel (11:12 am today) that would be a problem.

    2. If he did not believe in them but supported them in public because of party pressure or the will to win an election, that, too, would be a problem.

    Being a professional politician does not give an Orthodox Jew a free pass to take stands opposite to his own religion’s core beliefs (these are shared by all Orthodox groups). This is not a legal matter—we’re a free country, after all—but a moral one.

  10. Yaakov Menken says:

    Hillel,

    While indeed Rav Feinstein was part of the Agudas Horabonim, I do not believe you can call it his organization — nor identify any current gadol baTorah identified with it. Its English name causes lots of confusion with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the OU. Unlike the OU, the UOR is not representative of any major stream of Orthodoxy.

    This isn\’t meant to reflect upon how the UOR\’s views might jibe with that of gedolim on this issue, but merely to reject any association of the current UOR with Rav Feinstein zt\”l.

  11. HILLEL says:

    To SePhardiLady:

    It is not a sin to point out that a very-visible public official, like Joe Lieberman, is seriously misrepresnting our Torah ideals. In fact, it is obligatory to do so, because our silence in the face of his distortions implies consent.

    Lieberman is not a sincere orthodox Jew. He attends services in Conservative synagogues and panders to the most perverted elements of our society. He votes for the most criminal and degenerate legislation. He is a disgrace to our people.

    My Rebbe, Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT\”L, told me that he felt that Lieberman should be excommunicated.

    Here is a letter from Agudas Horabonim (Rav Moshe Feinstein\’s, ZT\”L, organization)that spells out only some of the misdeeds of Lieberman:

    THE UNION OF ORTHODOX RABBIS
    OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
    235 EAST BROADWAY
    NEW YORK, N.Y. 10002

    Contact: 718 469-6999

    6 Tishrei 5761
    October 5, 2000

    UOR Calls on Lieberman to
    End Support of Homosexual Agenda

    The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, the oldest Orthodox Jewish rabbinic group in America, representing some 500 rabbis including heads of yeshivos and congregations, issues the following statement:

    Our policy is not to involve ourselves in political races nor do we endorse candidates. When, however, our entire nation and much of the world begins to relate to Torah-observant Orthodox Judaism through the prism of the statements and actions of vice-presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman, we feel it necessary to clarify several issues and to cry out in pain and disbelief.

    Let it be known that our revered past president Rabbi Moses Feinstein, of blessed memory, universally acknowledged as a leading interpreter of Jewish law on these shores, ruled unequivocally that a Jewish public office holder can not vote for, or support, activities which are forbidden for all of society by the G-d ordained Noahide Code of Laws. Thus it is forbidden to vote for legislation which promotes or legalizes abortion on demand, homosexuality, and the political agenda of the homosexual movement (adoption, marriage, civil unions, etc.).

    We cry out in pain and disbelief that at any time during the year, but more so on the very eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Senator Lieberman would address the large gathering of a homosexual lobbying group whose goals are inimical to, and incompatible with, Orthodox Torah-observant Judaism. Similarly, supporting the legality of any and all abortion on demand (except in the rarest of cases when the mother\’s life is threatened) including the horrific procedure known as partial birth abortion is totally incomprehensible for a Torah observant Jew. Rabbi Feinstein has written that the prohibition of abortion derives from the Commandment \”Thou shall not murder\”.

    Mr. Lieberman\’s comments on the Imus radio program stating that Judaism does not ban interreligious marriage flies in the face of the Torah proscription of intermarriage.

    Supporting mixed-gender barracks in the military or the movement to financially pressure the Boy Scouts of America into accepting overt homosexuals as scout masters and role models also flies in the face of our Torah\’s moral code.

    On Yom Kippur, the afternoon Torah reading – Leviticus, chapter 18 – enumerates forbidden sexual relationships and specifies, \”Do not lie with a male as one does with a woman, it is an abomination.\” Surely every observant Jew appreciates the central role this moral code plays in our Yom Kippur liturgy and, more importantly, in our daily lives.

    To our co-religionist Senator Lieberman, we cry out in shock and pain: Please, please do not attend the homosexual event. Issue an immediate clarification on the paramount issues of intermarriage, abortion on demand, homosexuality, and the Torah\’s moral code. The misinformation that you have communicated must be rectified.

    Because of the confusion which may be engendered by Senator Lieberman\’s actions, votes, and statements (as some may think that his positions are compatible with authentic Orthodox Torah-observant Judaism) which constitute a serious religious desecration, we call upon rabbis and synagogue officials this Yom Kippur to use the afternoon Torah portion as a springboard to emphasize the Torah-true position on illicit sexual relationships.

    We hope and pray that our statement, written in deep pain, will help clarify to the American people that observant Judaism subscribes to the Biblical motto \”a nation of priests and a holy people\” and we dare not pander to promiscuity.

  12. Reb Yid says:

    Michael:

    It pains me to say this, but my comments have nothing to do with partisanship. I myself initially supported invading Iraq, albeit reluctantly. I did so because I (naively at the time, to be sure) believed that my elected officials knew what they were talking about.

    This Administration has abused that trust. The selling point of the war–WMD–has proven to be a sham. And woe to the person (Joseph Wilson, anyone?) who dares speak the truth that (in Wilson\’s case, the WMD) Emperor, in fact, has no clothes.

    We now know that Cheney and company were planning on invading Iraq even before 9/11; for a while, the Administration\’s strategy of linking 9/11 and Iraq had many fooled, but that jig is now up, too. Secrecy, misinformation, disinformation and cover-ups (and cover-ups of cover-ups) are the modus operandi of these folks. Truth is not what matters–only information that fits their very narrow, myopic ideological lens.

    There\’s a reason why Bush\’s popularity ratings are so low, as well as Congress\’s. There\’s a reason why more and more Republicans are staying away from Bush when trying to get elected or re-elected.

    Most Americans realize that they have been \”had\” by this Administration when it comes to Iraq–morally, strategically, tactically, financially, and beyond. And that far too many other elected officials haven\’t done their appointed jobs by being a proper check on the increasingly hegemonic Executive branch.

    No, it\’s not about partisanship. Aside from the neocons, no-one from the far left to the far right is happy with this Administration.

    Don\’t get me wrong–Saddam is an evil man. But removing him from the scene in and of itself, as we have seen, is not necessarily a productive step. Now instead of dealing with a dictator who we now know did NOT have WMD, we have an instable Iraq with multiple suicide bombings each week, AND we have a much stronger Iran that we KNOW has nuclear capabilities.

  13. Michael says:

    Reb Yid,

    Could you please display at least a modicum of honesty and integrity, beyond the partisanship? For example, in addition to Cheney and Rumsfeld, be sure to mention that the elected Prime Minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, is quite certain that Saddam Hussein had relationships with Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations.

    I believe very strongly that Saddam had relations with al-Qaida. And these relations started in Sudan. We know Saddam had relationships with a lot of terrorists and international terrorism. Now, whether he is directly connected to the September — atrocities or not, I can’t — vouch for this. But definitely I know he has connections with extremism and terrorists.

    Do not merely “stipulate” the point about suicide bombers. It is a well-publicized fact that Saddam was funding suicide bombers. And your comment about today is the ultimate red herring. Hamas is in charge in Gaza thanks to the creation of the PA by Beilin, Rabin, Clinton, and other well-meaning liberals with no understanding of the evil of Arab terrorism. The Hezbollah in Lebanon is funded by Iran and Syria, and is a demonstration of the destructive power of state-sponsored terrorism.

    The civil war between Shiites and Sunnis is no surprise. It is the result of the vacuum of power left after Hussein. Do you really mean to say that the world was better off with a dictator firmly in control, using both Shiite an Sunni earnings to fund the killing of Jews, a third state sponsor of terrorism?

  14. David N. Friedman says:

    It is true that Joe Lieberman has political values that stand in contradiction with his Rabbi.

    Our community (and that is to say the entirety of our community)nonetheless sees Lieberman as a mensch and his elevation to the national stage, a point of pride, even for Republicans such as myself.

    I find myself unable to reconcile many of his political stands and some of his conradictory calls, such as his decision to vote against impeachment of Clinton after calling him to task for bad moral conduct. He stands as the best and the brightest of the Dems.

    Note a few Dems with common sense have mirrored Lieberman and this is something worth highlighting. Ed Koch also famously voted in favor of Bush, explaining that the war on terror trumps liberal social issues..

    Let’s see what happens. Lieberman might have fallen on his sword and taken the loss like a man. Instead, he thinks he can take another bite at the apple and hold his seat. Perhaps he can get away with it. It all depends on how CT. Dems and “independents” view him on election day in November.

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    Jonah-what renders Lamont a “true Democrat”-support from the likes of the Harvard/NY/DC/Hollywood chattering classes and agitators such as Sharpton and Jackson? Is it the lack of courage to support Lieberman by his erstwhile friends Messrs Clinton, Gore, Schumer and Clinton-all of whom ran away from Lieberman like Kitty Genovese’s neighbors ? Perhaps, Lieberman is the only Democrat willing to be tough on national security. The Democrats should be ashamed of themselves in viewing ideological purity as more important than fielding a candidate who can win the presidency-a feat that will beyond their capability if they focus on Iraq and try to make us forget that they punted on Islamic terror in the early 90s.

  16. Jonah Halper says:

    You are making some hefty assumptions as to the elections in November. As a CT resident, if Leiberman runs on the independant ticket it will only reaffirm what Democrats believe, that Leiberman isn’t a TRUE democrat and he will lose. Lamont is going to be the new Senator.

  17. SephardiLady says:

    Hillel, your comments on Senator Lieberman’s observance are motzei shem ra. He is Shomer Shabbat and whether or not you like all of his positions (I don’t!), it is terrible to accuse him of masquerading.

  18. Reb Yid says:

    Steve–the only 2 people in America who are still spouting that myth about the Al Qaida and Iraq link are Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    It\’s the new updated definition of chutzpah–we \”need\” to be in Iraq because of Al Qaida, even though it did not exist as a threat there before the US invasion.

    Most Americans have, by now, learned that this Administation has lied to them repeatedly. It has flaunted and abused its powers, often illegally bypassing other branches of government.

    I don\’t know how one defines \”success\” in Iraq, but when our #1 military guy there said a few days ago that the country is on the brink of a civil war that\’s hardly a ringing endorsement. Especially after all of the resources that have been expended and US and Iraqi civilians and troops that have been killed or injured.

    If you were a US citizen or solider, do you feel safer going into Iraq today than you did before the war began?

    As far as Israel goes–let\’s even stipulate your point about the suicide bombers. Is the current situation over the past
    month an improvement?

    Getting back to the point of this thread–if you are a Senator who is outspoken about morality–and even goes on record in castigating a President from his own party, it is frankly outrageous not to have challenged this administation about Iraq, Abu Gharaib, Guantanamo, etc.

  19. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid-FYI, there was a definite link between Al Qaida and Saddam Yimach Shamam vZicram that justified the invasion of Iraq. Iraq also funded and subsidized Arafat’s suicide bombers. One can argue that the decreased amount of suicide bombers since 2003 is directly attributable to the absence of Saddam Hussein’s infamous government. Your post assumes that our presence in Iraq is a failure when in fact democratic institutions have been installed.

    Hillel-Once again, your rhetoric is marked by an absence of facts. Lieberman belongs to a MO shul in Washington, DC. The fact that his positions on abortion and gay rights do not approximate the RC Church do make Lieberman R or C. An objective search thru Shas and Poskim would find numerous differences between the halachic perspective on these issues and both the extreme liberal and R C Church positions.

  20. Bob Miller says:

    Lamont’s prescription for foreign policy is unconditional surrender—by us.

  21. Reb Yid says:

    Why should any Jew have to defend voting for Lamont?

    Lieberman has been an embarrassment on the Iraq issue, plain and simple.

    He had the time to give Bill Clinton a scathing \”musar schmooz\” from the Senate floor about his improprieties when he was President. Yet he has basically given this current administration a free ride on virtually all aspects of the horrendous Iraq debacle–a debacle, which from any perspective dwarfs that of Monicagate.

    His silence here–on moral issues, no less-is deafening and hypocritical. Jews of all stripes have a perfectly legitimate gripe to vote against those who have blindly supported this campaign in Iraq.

    Even those who take a hard line stance on Israel must ask if Israel is, in fact, now WOSRE off as a result of invading Iraq. Al-Qaida is now a force there, and Iran has been emboldened–perhaps even deciding to flex its muscles with Hezbollah as a result.

  22. HILLEL says:

    What is this love affair that we Orthodox have with Lieberman?

    Lieberman is a Reform/Conservative Jew masquerading as an Orthodox Jew. .It would be better for us to be represented by a religious Italian than a phoney “Observant” Jew, who supports Abortion and “Gay Rights.”

  23. Steve Brizel says:

    It is a sad day when the party of FDR, HST, JFK, HHH, Scoop Jackson and Daniel Moynihan has become the captive industry of the Harvard faculty phone directory, the NY and DC Beltway liberal chattering classes and their Hollywood backers. The party that once was ready to fight aggression anywhere at any time is now has rejected internationalism for isolationism and views terrorism as a police matter. Imagine if Kerry had been elected President instead of Bush-Israel would have faced the wrath of the so called “righteous nations of the world” that comprise the UN and EU.

  24. Bob Miller says:

    Jews need to consider what the Democratic Party has become as regards Jews and Jewish concerns. The customary, even hereditary, Jewish voting for Democrats has resulted in…what? The only Jews today who still influence the national Democratic Party are those whose everyday religion is socialism.

    Jewish voters and politicians who continue to affiliate as Democrats should wake up to who and what they are really supporting.

  25. aj says:

    The only good news of the day is that Cynthia McKinney, of Georgia, lost her primary battle.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/08/us/08cnd-mckinney.html