We’ve been covering the case of a Florida politician, Evelyn Garcia, who resigned from the Democratic National Committee, after emails emerged in which she bewailed the treatment of Palestinians under occupation by Israel. Garcia was elected to the DNC in 2008 and is now running for state office.
Several of Garcia’s emails were written a year ago to Dan Liftman, a legislative aide in the office of Alcee Hastings, a Democratic congressman from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In one of his exchanges with Garcia, Liftman writes:
“What Palestinians? As yet there is no Palestine. Not officially.”
Hold on there. A right wing Republican, Newt Gingrich, got in trouble earlier this year for calling the Palestinians an “invented people.” Even Mitt Romney condemned the remark as “incendiary.” But here’s a Democrat saying the same thing!
I called Liftman in Hastings’s Ft. Lauderdale office and asked him if he was speaking for Hastings when he said, There are no Palestinians. He said:
“It absolutely does not reflect the congressman’s views and it never will. I was writing in a moment of pique and I was speaking for myself. It has nothing to do with the Congressman. I got a little angry when I read something like what Evelyn sent me. ‘Concentration camps, crimes against humanity.’ But this has nothing to do with the Congressman.”
I called then emailed Hastings’s press secretary. I have yet to hear from her.
Liftman said he has apologized for his “invective.” I pointed out that Garcia’s comments have cost her a job. Liftman said that those comments were “horrible” and that Garcia herself had called them “ugly and insensitive,” but there was no need for him to resign over his statements about Palestinians.
“No. Of course not. I’ve already been chastised for speaking out,” he said.
When asked who had chastised him, Liftman said, “This has gone too far” and declined to say.
Though he is Jewish and very strongly pro-Israel, he said he has friends on all sides of the issue, including Muslims. (By the way, Hastings’s district is mostly African-American; constructed for the purpose of sending an African-American to Congress.) Liftman also said he was not the source of the leaked emails.
Oh and to repeat the takeaway: you can be a liberal Democrat in the United States today and hold these essentially racist views. No one is busting you for having these views, really. And the Democratic Party is trying to paper over the differences between Israel lobby types like Josh Block and critics of Israel in the party’s base. That process won’t last; the contradictions are too great.