New Orleans Race Takes Curious Twist ELECTION '94

Article excerpt

MEMBERS of New Orleans' small but politically active Jewish community are expecting anger and confusion in the wake of charges that Donald Mintz (D), a Jew and top candidate for mayor in tomorrow's election, has created and distributed anti-Semitic literature as a fund-raising device.

"It is totally inconceivable that Donald Mintz could ever be involved in something so ugly," said Ann Eisner, the director of the Jewish Community Center.

David Goldstein, the rabbi of Touro Synagogue, where Mr. Mintz frequently worships, is equally vehement: "He is a healer, not a hater. There is just no way on earth he would have anything to do with garbage like this."

Although the source of the hate fliers was discussed during this city's mayoral primary last month, it has only been in the past two weeks that the matter has evolved into a full-blown crisis for Mintz. Not only has his runoff opponent, state Sen. Marc Morial (D) charged that Mintz produced the fliers, but a grand jury has indicted a top Mintz aide for distributing them.

"A lot of weird things can happen in New Orleans politics," said Abner Tritt, the publisher of the local Jewish Voice. "But this one is too bizarre even for me. Mintz could never create this kind of material. His moral standards are too strong. He might have used the copy, though, to raise funds from American Jewry, which is something I have no problem with."

The anonymous fliers were first seen in the city last summer, but by January, more than 100,000 homes had received a series of leaflets and pamphlets steeped in anti-Semitic, anti-black, and anti-gay rhetoric.

"I, for one, am not ready to sit back and dismiss this as `politics as usual,' " said Rabbi Edward Gohn, a member of the city's Human Relations Committee, which is trying to enforce a fair campaign practices agreement signed by the candidates several months ago. "Those fliers not only hurt me with what they say about my black brothers and sisters but also the suggestion that Jews be returned to Auschwitz. …