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Anti-Semitism Charge Taints Illinois Congressional Race

March 06, 2002|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — With two weeks left before the Democratic primary, the congressional race featuring ex-Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel has taken a nasty turn, with personal attacks and accusations of anti-Semitism.

The latest dust-up involves remarks made Monday by a supporter of candidate Nancy Kaszak about Emanuel, who is Jewish.

At a celebration honoring a Polish general of the Revolutionary War, Polish American Congress President Ed Moskal said that Emanuel was a citizen of Israel and served for two years in the Israeli army.

He also called Emanuel, 42, a "millionaire carpetbagger who knows nothing about our values, our causes, our expectations or our heritage."

The comments about Emanuel's background are untrue; Kaszak repudiated the remarks as well as the support of Moskal and his group.

But Emanuel, the former top advisor to President Clinton, contends they reflect a "whispering campaign" of anti-Semitism against him in the district.

Emanuel called the comments "garbage," and his campaign noted that although Kaszak was in the audience when they were made, she did not repudiate them until hours later.

Kaszak, a 51-year-old Polish American who has received strong support from the large Polish community, said she has never sensed an undercurrent of anti-Semitism on the campaign trail. The former state lawmaker said she would rather focus on Emanuel's record in the White House and the private sector, which she says has hurt working Americans.

EMILY's List, a national political network for Democratic women who support abortion rights, is backing Kaszak.

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