The Republican Jewish Coalition greeted Howard Dean’s election to chair the Democratic National Committee this week with an ad campaign seeking to depict him as a supporter of terrorism.
The group placed full-page ads in the Washington newspaper Roll Call and natioanl Jewish weeklies, featuring a large picture of Hamas militants in full suicide-bomber regalia. Above the photo is the statement, referring to a long-recanted September 2003 quote from Dean: "DNC Chairman Howard Dean Says, ‘It’s not our place to take sides.’" Below the shot are statements from Sen. Joseph Lieberman, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other prominent Democrats denouncing the statement. At the time of the original flap, Dean responded to critics by stating that he meant America needed a president who would be seen as an honest broker by both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he said Clinton had been—not that he opposed the United States’ alliance with Israel. Jewish Democrats replied to the ad with a catalog of other Dean statements from before and after the 2003 quote, in which the former Vermont governor repeatedly endorsed the "special relationship" with Israel and called for tough action against Islamic terrorism and regimes that support it.
In an October 2003 speech to the Arab American Institute, Dean said, "I defend the Israelis’ right to defend themselves."
The National Jewish Democratic Council called the Republicans’ anti-Dean ad a "vicious smear campaign." It said the ad campaign "dangerously politicizes support for Israel, threatening the crucial legacy of bipartisan support for Israel." (The Forward, Feb. 18)