Jewish World Review August 16, 2002 / 8 Elul, 5762

Zev Chafets

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Consumer Reports

A pro-Arab pol may get
the beating she deserves | For many New Yorkers, this summer's most emotional election will be held Tuesday in DeKalb County, Ga. The race for the Democratic nomination in the 4th Congressional District pits incumbent Cynthia McKinney against Judge Denise Majette. Both are black Christians, but their primary has become a national Jewish-Arab battlefield.

McKinney is the Arab candidate. After 9/11, she scolded then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani for turning down $10 million from an anti-Israel Saudi prince and asked for the money for her own causes. She accused President Bush of failing to stop the bombing of New York and stirring up Mideast war to benefit arms-industry Republicans.

Majette, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, is the anti-McKinney. Her Web site prominently features an American flag, and she is happily pro-Israel. Last week, in a televised debate, Majette went after McKinney's base. "On 9/11," she admonished her opponent, "while the rest of the world watched in horror ... you were counting money received from some people who have been named as Arab terrorists."

"All our donations are legal," McKinney tepidly replied.

Maybe so, but McKinney's donor list reads like the Ramallah phone book. Her campaign manager, Bill Banks, concedes that most of the money comes from out-of-state contributors with Arabic surnames, but he regards this with equanimity. "Money is money," he says. Besides, "A lot of people named Muhammad have been in America two or three generations."

McKinney's supporters are an Arab-American who's who. They include Nihad Awad, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Sami Al-Arian, the much-investigated Palestinian Florida professor whose public utterances include, "Let us damn America, let us damn Israel, let us damn their allies until death"; Abdurahman Alamoudi, a leader of the American Muslim Council who proclaimed his support for Hamas and Hezbollah at a demonstration in front of the White House in 2000, and Jamal Barzinji, chairman of the Virginia-based Saar Foundation, which is under federal scrutiny.

The Washington Post reported this week that McKinney has 18 donors who are "officers of Muslim foundations under investigation by the FBI, have voiced support for Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist organizations or have made inflammatory statements about Jews."

The Jewish community has responded to this electoral jihad by pouring money into Majette's campaign. The challenger has raised $1.2 million - an unheard-of amount for an untried challenger in Georgia. That's almost double McKinney's war chest and 10 times more than any of her previous opponents raised.

Early in the campaign, Majette's money came mostly from Georgians. But in the last two weeks, money has been flowing in from Jews living in Connecticut, California, Florida and, especially, New York. Majette's finance manager expects at least another $100,000 and perhaps much more by Primary Day.

As usual in politics, money matters. When the race began, McKinney was a heavy favorite. Now independent polls give Majette a slight lead. Her camp says it has a private survey that puts the challenger ahead by double digits. McKinney's manager says the race is even.

In a June Democratic primary in Alabama, pro-Arab Rep. Earl Hilliard lost a money-raising contest and a primary to a pro-Israel challenger. McKinney may very well have the same experience. That would make a lot of people in DeKalb County, Ga., very happy. And a lot of people in New York, too.

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JWR contributor Zev Chafets is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

08/13/02: Fight it out now
08/02/02: Memo to The Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. values won't sell in Arab world
07/31/02: Israel's nutty neighbors

© 2002, NY Daily News