Rift between Blacks, Jews Cited in Election; Loser in Alabama Race Sees influence.(PAGE ONE)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 2, 2002 | Go to article overview

Rift between Blacks, Jews Cited in Election; Loser in Alabama Race Sees influence.(PAGE ONE)


Byline: Dave Boyer, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The defeat of a black House Democrat who opposed pro-Israel resolutions has sent shock waves through the party and raised concerns about a widening rift between blacks and Jews.

"It's going to have other implications in other races," says Rep. Earl F. Hilliard, Alabama Democrat, whose opponent raised more than $300,000 from Jewish donors outside the state. "I just don't think that the black community is going to sit still and let it happen."

Mr. Hilliard, a five-term incumbent who is regarded as sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, lost to Artur Davis by 12 percentage points in a Democratic runoff last week. Mr. Davis, a lawyer who also is black, is regarded as all but certain to win the seat in November in the safely Democratic district.

Although Democrats will retain the seat in Congress, Mr. Hilliard's loss was troublesome for party leaders, who donated nearly $50,000 to the incumbent in the waning days of the campaign. His defeat did little to smooth over complaints within the party that supporters of Israel are interfering in black politics and that some black politicians do not support Israel, as the great majority of white Democrats in Congress do.Mr. Hilliard says at least three other black House Democrats will be "targeted" for defeat this year by Jewish campaign contributors who rank support for Israel as a top priority.

"They have targeted Cynthia McKinney in Georgia; they have targeted Jesse Jackson Jr. of Chicago and Donald Payne of Newark [N.J.]," Mr. Hilliard says. "Many African-Americans were not pleased with the manner of Jewish influence in the African-American district. I don't think that they're going to be pleased with that influence in Cynthia McKinney's district, or Jesse Jackson, or Don Payne or anybody else that represents a predominantly African-American district."

All three Democrats, like Mr. Hilliard, have voted against resolutions that express solidarity with Israel and condemn Palestinian suicide bombers.

Miss McKinney, who faces a challenge from state court Judge Denise Majette in the Aug. 20 primary, has been criticized for accusing President Bush of deliberately failing to prevent the September 11 terrorist attacks so that he could profit from them.

"I think she's concerned," Mr. Hilliard says of Miss McKinney, who refused to be interviewed for this article.

Republicans are watching the situation with interest but are not counting on picking up any of the seats in question.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, says a defeat of Miss McKinney by another Democrat would not benefit Republicans. …

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