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Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R IL-10).
News and Opinion

Kirk Footloose With Charges Of Anti-Semitism
Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk battles Jay Footlik for Jewish support.

-- Margo Brenner

The candidates for United State Congress from Illinois’ 10th District continue to attract interest from Jewish voters across the country.

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican, accused Democratic challenger Jay Footlik, who is Jewish, of being anti-Semitic because Footlik attended the YearlyKos, a convention for bloggers in the DailyKos online community.

This was not Kirk's first foray into Jewish politics. Last year, Kirk's office threatened to cut off aid to Tel Aviv University because one of the school’s backers supported Kirk’s Democratic opponent Dan Seals

Kirk supporter Andy Lappin wrote in a campaign-style email: "What's troubling is that Seals and Footlik speak to our community with one mouth and then run to a convention filled with anti-Semitic bloggers."

Lappin characterized the bloggers as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel because a handful of posters have written objectionable comments, and in his email to Kirk constituents, he listed five examples of anti-Semitic or anti-Israel postings to the blog.

He concluded, "If you are as disgusted as I am by the actions of [campaign challengers] Dan Seals and Jay Footlik, I would urge you to call their campaigns and let them know you're making a contribution to Kirk for Congress because unlike them, he's fighting in Congress to combat global anti-Semitism, fight Holocaust denial, protect Israel and stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons."

Footlik immediately struck back:

"I have come face-to-face with anti-Semites, and in every instance --- every single one --- I have condemned any form of anti-Semitic speech, whether it comes from the mouth of a blogger or a preacher. Anti-Semitism --- like xenophobia, racism, and homophobia --- has no place in the 10th district, in Chicagoland, in Illinois, in the United States, and the entire world.

"I suppose I should be astonished that the Kirk campaign would attack me --- a Jew and someone who has lived in Israel --- on whether I am sufficiently pro-Israel or sensitive to anti-Semitism."

He then called upon Kirk to denounce these types of divisive and dishonest attacks, which Kirk supporters have used in the past.

The National Jewish Democratic Council also called on Kirk to repudiate Lappin’s statements. The NJDC pointed out that this is not the first time Kirk campaign supporters or staffers have used sleazy tactics.

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