GOP Fires at Dukakis Appointees : ‘Anti-Israelis’ on Committee, It Says; Senator Dissents
A group of counterattacking House Republicans charged today that Democratic presidential nominee Michael S. Dukakis appointed three “anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian” members--including Los Angeles City Councilman Robert Farrell--to the party’s ruling body and challenged him to dismiss them.
The challenge was a clear effort to counter problems in the campaign of GOP nominee George Bush, who has had to dump eight campaign advisers in the last week following charges of anti-Semitism against them.
One Republican member of Congress, Sen. Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota, told reporters that he had turned down a request from Bush campaign aides to take part in the GOP group’s attack.
No Political Future
“I don’t want to do it,” said Boschwitz, a prominent Jewish politician. “I don’t think there’s any political future in these charges and countercharges.”
Rep. Norman F. Lent (R-N.Y.) said the three members in question were appointed to the 400-member Democratic National Committee after the party’s July convention in Atlanta as a gesture of conciliation to Jesse Jackson.
He identified the three as Farrell, the Rev. Willie Barrow, executive director of Jackson’s Chicago-based Operation PUSH, and Ruth Ann Skaff of Houston, who he said is a spokeswoman for the pro-Palestinian Ad Hoc Committee on Lebanon.
Lent said Barrow and Farrell are supporters of radical Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan. He said Skaff has led anti-Israel demonstrations.
“The presence of (the three) on the Democratic team raises questions about Michael Dukakis’ judgment and his submission to Jesse Jackson,” Lent said at a news conference. “Obviously, Gov. Dukakis has failed to grasp the message his appointments send.”
Appearing with Lent were GOP Reps. Benjamin A. Gilman and Guy V. Molinari of New York, John R. Miller of Washington and Vin Weber of Minnesota.
Two of the three committee members under attack, Skaff and Farrell, defended their stance on Israel. Barrow could not be reached for comment.
“Attacking individuals such as myself and Rev. Willie Barrow and Councilman Farrell is a desperate and dangerous move by the Bush campaign,” said Skaff, the Texas coordinator for the Arab American Institute.
“Targeting me as an Arab-American and targeting my views on this issue truly endangers the political security of Americans of Arab heritage. Am I guilty of crime because my grandparents came from Lebanon?” she asked.
Skaff said she favors an independent Palestinian state, but only “premised upon the security of Israel.”
Farrell was criticized in 1985 when he refused to sign a newspaper ad condemning anti-Semitic remarks attributed to Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.
Farrell said that he had been unaware of the Farrakhan remarks at the time and that he would gladly sign any letter opposing anti-Semitic remarks.