Rumble in District 9

Rothman Calls on Opponent to Disavow Supporter's Anti-Israel Rhetoric

Rep. Bill Pascrell
February 22, 2012

New Jersey Rep. Steve Rothman has called on his Democratic primary challenger, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.), to distance himself from a prominent Arab American supporter who accused Rothman of being more loyal to Israel than America.

"Congressman Pascrell should disavow these attacks and ask his supporters to stop this harmful, dishonest, and bigoted rhetoric," Rothman spokesperson Aaron Keyak said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. "Even during tough elections we should be able to debate policy without having our political opponents question our patriotism."

Yesterday, WFB reported that Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, accused Rothman of being "Israel’s man in District 9."

"As total and blind support for Israel becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s," Assaf wrote in an article for the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Rothman’s office took issue with Assaf’s charge of dual loyalty, maintaining that the Congressman will not apologize for his staunch support of Israel.

"Steve Rothman has always put his country first. He took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and to keep America safe," the statement said. "As part of strengthening our national security, Congressman Rothman is a proud supporter of the United States’ most important strategic ally and friend in the Middle East, the State of Israel. He says so without apology to anyone."

Rothman and Pascrell are locked in a tough primary race after redistricting forced the two into competition. The race is being closely watched by New Jersey’s pro-Israel community. The election will be held June 5.