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January 4, 2007

Democrats call on GOP to condemn Prager; Deputy in Mel Gibson bust claims harrassment

http://www.jewishjournal.com/community_briefs/article/democrats_call_on_gop_to_condemn_prager_deputy_in_mel_gibson_bust_claims_ha

Democrats Call on GOP to Condemn Prager, Rep. Goode

For several months, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) pounded Democrats for allegedly being soft on Israel and for failing to call out Democratic leaders who made anti-Israel remarks. Before the midterm elections, the RJC even took out ads in Jewish newspapers painting the Democrats as weak on Israel.

Now, the Democrats are pushing back. Borrowing a page from the RJC handbook, the Democrats for Israel, Los Angeles, recently lambasted right-wing talk show host Dennis Prager and Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) for making remarks many perceive as anti-Muslim. Not content to simply take the pair to task, Democrats for Israel has also called on the RJC, "in the name of decency, fair play and the United States Constitution," according to a recent release, to join the group in its condemnations.

"This is a chance for the [RJC] to show it is concerned about the Jewish community instead of just engaging in political demagoguery for political purposes," said Andrew Lachman, president of the local chapter of Democrats for Israel.

Prager sparked a firestorm of controversy by writing, in a recent column, that the nation's first ever Muslim House member, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), should not be allowed to take his oath of office with a Quran. Prager said that Ellison, who received the endorsement of the American Jewish World newspaper in Minneapolis, would "be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this county than the terrorists of 9/11," if permitted to takes his oath on the Quran. Echoing Prager, Goode said, he planned to take his oath on the Bible, and does not "subscribe to using the Quran in any way."

Lachman said that requiring the use of a Christian Bible to take an oath of office, as he said Prager and Goode have suggested, undermines the separation of church and state and opens the door for discrimination against Jews.

RJC California Director Larry Greenfield could not be reached for comment. The RJC has yet to officially weigh in on the controversy.

Several prominent Jewish organizations have criticized Prager or Goode's remarks, including the Anti-Defamation League and B'nai B'rith.

-- Marc Ballon, Senior Writer Deputy in Mel Gibson bust claims harrassment

The deputy sheriff who arrested Mel Gibson for drunken driving said he is being harassed during a leak inquiry.

Deputy James Mee's attorney said last week that following the July incident, Mee was suddenly transferred to another beat and that his work is being unfairly scrutinized by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as it investigates who leaked Mee's report of the arrest.

The department initially said Gibson had been arrested without incident, but Mee's report, which was leaked to TMZ.com, indicated that the actor was belligerent and made anti-Semitic and misogynistic comments when stopped for drunken driving.

The department interrogated Mee for three hours and searched his house, confiscating his computer and phone records, attorney Richard Shinee said.

A separate investigation concluded that Gibson received no preferential treatment during or after the incident.

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