Embattled Sen. Sherrod Brown will participate in a fundraiser Thursday alongside actor Martin Sheen, a prominent 9-11 Truther whose commitment to anti-Israel activism has landed him in handcuffs.
Brown is locked in a competitive reelection battle with Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, a rising star in the GOP who is widely recognized for his staunchly pro-Israel stance and stint in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"The company Sherrod Brown keeps demonstrates he is out of touch with real Ohioans," said Mandel spokesman Travis Considine. "He is ranked among the most liberal Senators in Congress, takes large donations from the anti-Israel group J Street, and is supported by radical environmentalists that spend their time suing the United States Navy and lobbying for regulations that destroy jobs in Ohio."
For more than 20 years, Sheen has demonstrated against the U.S.-Israel alliance and accused the Israeli government of orchestrating a "blanket media portrayal of all Palestinians as terrorists."
"It makes me sick to my stomach" to find out that Brown will raise money alongside Sheen, said Todd Appelbaum, a Columbus, Ohio, resident and local businessman who votes as an independent. "It says everything about him."
Sheen, who has earned the title of America’s ‘most arrested celebrity’ by being arrested 66 times, has been at odds with Israeli leadership since the late 1980s.
He lent his raspy baritone to a 1985 film titled "Native Sons: Palestinians in Exile," in which Sheen describes what he sees as Israel’s culpability for the suffering of Palestinians. The film, which many view as wildly inaccurate, was the brainchild of Ohio University film professor Tom Hayes, who has spent his career producing anti-Israel documentaries and rallying against the Jewish state.
Three years later, Sheen was arrested outside the Israeli Defense Ministry offices in New York during a demonstration against the U.S.-Israel military alliance.
"There are more weapons sold in this building than anywhere else in the world except the Pentagon," Sheen said during the 30-minute march, in which protestors blocked access to the ministry’s entrances. "We are here to show our solidarity with all Israeli people and to oppose the Israeli government's policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
Sheen also provided anti-Israel narration to a 1992 documentary titled "My Home, My Prison," which purported to expose the Israelis’ unfair imprisonment of Raymonda Hawa Tawil, a PLO activist whose daughter later married Yasser Arafat.
At one point in the film, Sheen indicts Israel for creating a "blanket media portrayal of all Palestinians as terrorists" as retribution for what he termed "an increase in worldwide violent attacks by Palestinian commandos."
Sheen views with pride his history of arrests for far-left political causes.
"My first civil disobedience arrest for social justice was in 1986 for protesting the SDI," President Ronald Reagan’s space-based Strategic Defense Initiative, Sheen said in a 2003 interview. "That arrest was one of the happiest moments of my life."
The actor has dedicated a great deal of money and resources to create the Office of the Americas, a non-profit entity that chiefly decries Israel and America for employing excessive violence across the globe.
"What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line," the left-wing Israeli professor Avi Shlaim wrote in one document sponsored by the Office of the Americas. "Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era."
Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said that the Sheen-Brown alliance should raise concerns among Jewish voters.
"Contrary to the likable persona of President Josiah Bartlet of ‘The West Wing,’ Martin Sheen has a long history of supporting radical anti-Israel causes and projects," Brooks said. "It’s very troubling that Sherrod Brown would choose to campaign with and align himself with Martin Sheen and his radical anti-Israel politics."
Sheen’s association with the conspiracy-minded 9-11 Truther crowd is also well documented.
The actor explained his "doubts" about 9-11 in a paranoid 2007 interview.
"There’s been so many revelations that now I have my doubts," Sheen said. "And chief among them is building seven. How did they rig that building so that it came down on the evening of the day?"
"How convenient," he continued. "When did they rig that building? That’s the most curious question and I have not received a satisfactory answer."
Sheen also has expressed solidarity with his son Charlie Sheen, who also believes that the Bush administration had a hand in orchestrating the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
"We should know what really happened," he said. "I don’t know, but there are some very troubling, unanswered questions, and I think that’s all Charlie’s wanting to explore. So I support that."
Martin Sheen also has endorsed and aligned himself with the fringe organization World Can’t Wait, an advocacy group formed by the Revolutionary Communist Party. The group notably accused the Bush administration of trying to "radically remake American society very quickly, in a fascist way," something that led the group’s membership to "think of Hitler."
The actor’s views and associations raise questions about Sen. Brown, who has oftentimes run counter to the mainstream pro-Israel community.
In 1997, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Brown voted in favor of the Campbell Amendment, which sought to eliminate aid to Israel alone. Brown continued to buck the pro-Israel community as a U.S. senator.
The top contributor to Brown’s campaign thus far is the controversial fringe group J Street, which has raised $59,675 for the senator and has thrown its support behind some of the nation’s most anti-Israel candidates.
Brown refused to join a bi-partisan coalition of 71 senators who signed a letter to President Obama expressing concern over Arab anti-Semitism and support of violence against Jews. Those who opposed the letter complained that it failed to take a hardline stand against Israeli settlement construction.
In 2010, Brown again refused to lend his name to a bipartisan letter expressing commitment to the U.S-Israel alliance regardless of possible disagreements over the waning peace process.
"I consider J Street anti-Israel," said independent voter Appelbaum. "Sherrod Brown has a long and consistent record of not supporting Israel and the Jewish community."