Former Congressman Mel Levine Refuses To Debate Republican Jewish Coalition Los Angeles Head Larry Greenfield

The RJC emails:

The Obama campaign is using every tool at its disposal to ban the RJC from speaking to the public. Los Angeles PhD student Omri Ceren has posted an extensively researched and meticulously cited expose on how this tactic is part and parcel of the Obama campaign’s attack on dissent and free speech. The intro is excerpted below, and the entire shocking article is posted at his blog Mere Rhetoric:

Obama shill Mel Levine has never been shy about throwing around his AIPAC credentials. That’s a good strategy given how his pro-Obama arguments are mindbogglingly stupid, but it does beg a question: given how the Obama campaign is on the attack against AIPAC, aren’t Levine’s credentials kind of a bad thing? Maybe someone should ask him about that. Not a Republican though, because they’re not allowed:

Barack Obama’s campaign has decided advisers and representatives of the Democratic nominee for president will no longer debate officials from the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). This prohibition led Wednesday to the canceling of a debate scheduled for Sunday at Valley Cities Jewish Community Center in Van Nuys organized by the Council of Israeli Community in Los Angeles [CIC]. Larry Greenfield, California director of the RJC, said he still plans to show up. His counterpart, former Rep. Mel Levine, who is a Middle East adviser for Obama, will not participate in what would have been his fourth debate with Greenfield.

That’s the nice way to describe it. What actually happened is that the Obama campaign demanded that the CIC ban Greenfield from the debate as a condition for their participation. They’re doing the same thing all over the country: no preconditions for meeting Iran but thuggish demands before they’ll sit down with American Jews. And they’re getting really good at this game: have someone spend months organizing a non-partisan event, pull their people out right at the end, and then shriek about partisanship. The only thing left is for them to threaten legal action. Then it would be a perfect replay of how they detonated the anti-Ahmadinejad rally. The CIC, for its part, is pissed:

"It will be perceived as they are chickening out from a debate and they are ignoring the Israeli community and don’t want to face the truth that the McCain campaign is putting out," Linder said. "You are leaving Larry on a stage to put out the information he wants without being rebutted. The Israeli community needs to hear, face to face, both sides, so that people can decide who they want to vote for."

The Obama campaign is saying that they won’t debate because of the RJC’s "continual dishonesty." Which would already be incoherent if the RJC was actually being dishonest – in democracies, debates are exactly how we settle these things. But it’s an especially disingenuous move given how the RJC’s accusations are demonstrably true:

"My appearing with him gives him a prominence that he doesn’t deserve," Levine said when asked about the cancellation Wednesday afternoon by the Journal. "The RJC’s tactics have been continually dishonest, and the campaign has made a decision to not keep getting on the same stage with them." Levine pointed specifically to the RJC’s constant attacks on Israel-critic Zbigniew Brzezinski, who is an Obama foreign policy adviser but not concerning Obama’s Israel policy, and its claims that Obama would meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions. Indeed, Obama has said he would meet with leaders of rogue nations, but Ahmadinejad, a rabid anti-Semite, isn’t the head of Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei is.

Two things going on here. One, the Obama campaign is embarrassingly pathetic when it comes to addressing the valid concerns of American Jews. Two, they seem hell-bent on using their political power to prevent anyone from pointing that out.

Nice to see Obama finally claiming Brzezinski. Last time the campaign got pushed on it, they trotted out Wexler to say that Brzezinski was "not an adviser to the campaign and has done no work for the campaign." So either they’re lying now or they were lying then (hint: they were lying then – and they knew just who to go to). But being almost honest doesn’t make this argument any less asinine. Brzezinski believes that US tensions with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are caused by US support of Israel. So when Obama asks him how the US can repair relations with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia – what exactly do you think he’s going to tell him?

I’m also glad that Obama is finally admitting that he’d meet Iran without preconditions. For a while the campaign was claiming the opposite. So either they’re lying now or they were lying then (hint: they were lying then). But that doesn’t make this version of the argument any more true. For the record: Levine is stealing this argument from Joe Klein, although Klein may have gotten a little help from elsewhere. It was a dumb argument then – but now? Come on. I know that the Obama campaign is using the Big Lie strategy to deal with Biden’s anti-Israel record. But there’s actual video and photographic proof that Obama promised to meet with Ahmadinejad. That’s why Richardson – among others – explicitly criticized him for… wait for it… wanting to meet with Ahmadinejad.

And if he did mean that he’d meet Khamenei without preconditions? That’s somehow better? Khamenei has repeatedly declared that Iran is trying to wipe out Israel. He openly supports Ahmadinejad as the President of Iran. He’s trying to make sure that Ahmadinejad stays the President of Iran. This is the "dishonesty" that justifies banning conservative Jewish Americans from democratic forums?

It’d be nice if the Obama campaign’s attempted thuggish ban was just because they were afraid to defend their awful arguments. But this is more basic: the Obama campaign is silencing opponents because it can. They’ve been using legal threats to shut down events and kill political messages that they don’t like. They’re not even in power yet and they’re already threatening political opponents with jail time. They brag about the organized mobs that they activate to "fight the good fight" and prevent critics from speaking out. In the meantime they are quite literally blackmailing political opponents into silence. Across the country, Obama’s more enthusiastic partisans have taken to violently intimidating conservatives and destroying their property. Just yesterday they demanded an FBI investigation into the FBI investigation of their ACORN allies. This is not a campaign that takes criticism well.

So who knows – maybe Greenfield is lucky. The last citizen who had the temerity to publicly question the purity of The One was savagely destroyed by the press after Obama and Biden repeatedly stocked the fire by mocking him on globally-broadcast news stations. Little 12 year old girls are being viciously smeared for daring to look up to America’s most successful female politician.

From textbooks instructing students about Obama’s "life of service" to illustrated children’s books about "the name the whole world knows" to Obama Youth chanting and marching in lockstep to beatific children singing hymns about their Leader – let’s just build a giant statue of him on a horse and get it over with. This election isn’t about winning. As Obama’s more honest supporters boast, they’re in it to "crush the spirits" of social conservatives and foreign policy "neo-conservatives." Luckily "neo-conservative" is in no way a leftist code word for "pro-Israel Jew." So no cause for alarm.

Memo to ostensibly pro-Israel Obama supporters: circa 2010 there are going to be headlines about the "severe crisis in US-Israel relations." You’re not going to be able to say that you didn’t know.

Dear Friends,

In spite of despicable bullying tactics by the Obama campaign, the Jewish Vote Forums will continue as planned!

The wonderful host/organizers — The Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley, Temple Akiba of Culver City and the Council of Israel Community have all firmly rejected the attempt by Obama Jewish surrogates to force the RJC out of the important Jewish Vote Forums.

Shame on Obama and his supporters for trying to dictate to honorable and independent minded Jewish citizens with an attack on free speech and Jewish conversation.

Here below is an example of Jewish Community response to Obama thuggish behavior.

Please read below a profile in courage: the strong statement by Haim Linder, President of the Council of Israeli Community, rejecting the thug tactics and plain rude behavior of Mel Levine and the Democrats, who boycotted a long scheduled Jewish Vote Forum held this evening at the Valley Cities Jewish Community Center in Van Nuys.

The debates go on! Please attend Jewish vote forums and perhaps the Democrats will realize their cowardice and fear at discussing issues of importance to the Jewish community is not being well received.

Bravo, Haim.

—— Forwarded Message
From: Haim Linder
To: Mel Levine
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 08:20:50 -0700
Subject: CIC hosted debate 10/19


It is with great disappointment that I learned about your decision not to debate on Sunday 10/19 hosted by the Council of the Israeli Community, Los Angeles.

This is a debate agreed by all long time ago and you broke your promise to participate.

As a non-partisan organization we take no side in your conflict with the group you have agreed to debate. In fact the two debaters have done it three times in the past and they were very good debates.

However we take issue with your last-minute cancellation. It is un-democratic and shows a lack of respect act by all measures.

We have prepared for the event for a long time to bring to our community a balanced debate with the two best in our area. But you find your conflict with the RJC greater and more important then the right of the public to hear the two sides. You found your conflict with the RJC worthy of breaking your promise to debate and show disrespect to the whole Jewish/ Israeli community.

In the last e-mail to you I laid out our reasons why the debate should take place and will not go over it again.

In the last 36 hours I consulted with many people both Democrats and Republican on the issue and there was not one that agrees with your decision. It looks to them too small, disrespectful, dishonest and reflects negatively on your campaign. In fact a Democrat colleague made a comment that it sounds like Obama’s reversal on his campaign funding agreement with McCain.

We are going on with the debate with or without you. There will be no replacement by us to Mel Levine, unless you advise us otherwise.

This concludes my communication with you. Should you decide to change your position you are very welcome to attend.

If you celebrate sukkot have a pleasant holyday.


Haim Linder

Council of Israeli Community, LA

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.