Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry embraces former terrorist group leader Dov Hikind
Yesterday, I attended Rick Perry's press conference at the W Hotel in New York City, where the Texas Governor and Republican presidential frontrunner denounced President Barack Obama for supposedly "appeasing" America's enemies in the Middle East and failing to sufficiently support Israel. The Perry appearance was timed to pre-empt Obama's speech at the UN in which the President would reject Palestinian demands for statehood.
The most remarkable aspect of Perry's press conference was the cast of characters that assembled behind the Governor while he spoke. To Perry's immediate right was Assemblyman Dov Hikind, the former leader of the Jewish Defense League, a terrorist group responsible for bombing attacks on numerous Arab-American targets and a conspiracy to murder Republican Rep. Darrell Issa. While Hikind's collaborator Victor Vancier spent ten years in jail for firebomb attacks, Hikind was suspected by the FBI of numerous terror attacks of his own. After issuing numerous stentorian condemnations of terror, Perry handed the mic over to Hikind, who exclaimed, "I heard the Governor's speeches and I said to myself, 'He sounds like me!'" The two engaged in a sustained hug before a giant media gaggle.
To Perry's left was Dr. Solomon "Joe" Frager, who was listed on official Perry press material as the organizer of the press conference. Frager is the Chairman of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a front group for the Ateret Cohanim organization that steals Palestinian property in East Jerusalem and hands it over to fanatically religious Jewish families. They are the spearhead of Israel's slow motion ethnic cleansing of Silwan and the Old City. For a glimpse at the zealotry, racism and sheer sleaziness behind Ateret Cohanim's operation, watch Louis Theroux's excellent BBC documentary, "The Ultra-Zionists," which follows Ateret Cohanim's man-on-the-ground Daniel Luria as he personally orchestrates the theft of Palestinian homes.
Surrounding Perry was a sundry assortment of Jewish Israeli extremists, from Knesset Deputy Speaker Danny Danon, who advocates annexing the West Bank to punish the Palestinian Authority for pursuing statehood, to Member of Knesset Nissim Zeev, a settler from the Shas Party who has proposed "rehab centers" for homosexuals.
None of the reporters I talked to afterwards seemed to know who any of Perry's "pro-Israel" supporters were, and very few even cared. And nothing I have read so far about the event in the mainstream American media noted that it was planned by a key orchestrator of Palestinian home seizures in occupied territory, or that Perry embraced the former leader of a group listed by the FBI as a terrorist organization. To get a sense of the kind of coverage Perry earned from the mainstream press, read Politico's Ben Smith, who described Perry's speech as "moderate" and "centrist." Meanwhile, the liberal groups that howled in protest when Perry hosted a prayer rally in Houston with Christian right leaders have virtually ignored Perry's embrace of the Jewish extreme right.
It goes without saying that if an American politician meets with any Muslim or Arab leader, they will invite vehement denunciations from their opponents and face intense scrutiny from the mainstream press. This is why Obama has not visited a single mosque during his entire term as President (former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Obama was avoiding Muslims "out of sensitivity to the Jewish vote"). When a politician like Perry who surrounds himself with violent Jewish extremists before the national press corps, however, he is lauded as a "centrist" and treated as a serious contender.
This post originally appeared on Max Blumenthal's blog for Al Akhbar English.