The Tell: Three of the impeachment witness lawyers were Jewish, and it matters – JTA News

Posted By on December 7, 2019

WASHINGTON (JTA) On Wednesday, theU.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee launched impeachment hearings just hours afterthe Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., concluded its own impeachment inquiry.

The 300-page Intelligence Committee report concludes that President Donald Trump placed his own personal and political interests abovethenational interests oftheUnited States in asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, calling it the act of a president who viewed himself as unaccountable and determined to use his vast official powers to secure his reelection.

It is nowthe Judiciary Committees task to decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment. And whilethe officials who appeared before Schiffs committee were fact witnesses who describedthe events surroundingthe Ukraine scandal, Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., brought three witnesses all constitutional scholars that he hoped would outline a theory of impeachment.

All three witnesses are Jewish: Noah Feldman of Harvard, Pamela Karlan of Stanford and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina. So are Schiff and Nadler, and so wastheDemocrats counsel who directedthe first 45 minutes of questioning, Norm Eisen.

Why does this matter?

Well, predictably, it mattered to anti-Semites.

Ann Coulter,the right-wing agitator, tweeted, Too little ethnic diversity amongthe professors for me to take them seriously. Consideringherpast flirtations with anti-Semitism, one could conclude that she wasnt faultingtheprofessors just for being white.

TruNews,the YouTube channel run by ananti-Semitic Florida pastor who has coinedthe term Jew coupto describethe impeachment process, took to Twitter to accuse Jewish socialist Jerry Nadler and his three Jewish witnesses of escalatingtheJew coup. TruNews also helpfully informed us that Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University scholar and witnesses called by theRepublicans who testified thattheevidence for impeachment simply does not add up, is a Roman Catholic.

Twitter removedthe tweet. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblattscreenshotted it for posterity,calling on social media platforms to take action against blatantly anti-Semitic posts.

Why not ignorethe blatant anti-Semitism?

Because the fringes no longer have pariah status: TruNews has been accredited for White House news conferences. Trump has taken questions from them (about his plans for Israeli-Palestinian peace, of all things) and his son, Donald Jr., gave TruNews an impromptu interview earlier this year at a Michigan rally. (Trump Jr.s spokeswoman told The Washington Post that he was not aware atthe time of TruNews outlook.)

Those views have crept intothe mainstream discourse.

While the hearings were underway, Breitbart News,the Trump-boosting news site, posted a story, Norm Eisen, Democrat Impeachment Counsel, Linked to George Soros.Breitbart reportedthat Soros Open Society Foundation had helped fund an ethics watchdog Eisen founded, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, tothe tune of $1.35 million in 2017. (This is not a secret: Its on the Open Society website.)

Butthe Breitbart story failed to explainthe relevance. Eisen is not pretending to be nonpartisan or unaffiliated from a liberal outlook; there is no suggestion that Soros money is reachingthe committee itself.

Soros,the liberal Jewish billionaire philanthropist, is incessantly attached to conspiracies. Fiona Hill, a former senior National Security Council staffer, noted last month how the baseless Soros conspiracy theories besetthe Ukraine scandaland called them anti-Semitic.

Republicans onthe panel attempted to depictthe three scholars onthe Democratic side as effete elitists, another classic trope.

Democrats still dont get it, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Twitter. They are pushing ahead with impeachment based on opinions from liberal law professors from coastal universities.

McCarthy, from California, attended a coastal university (Cal State, Bakersfield), and Turley, the GOPs scholar, teaches at one, George Washington but never mind.

This creates Jewish fear

I got texts from leading Jewish Democrats during Wednesdays hearings wondering, with not inconsiderable trepidation, whether thescholars were indeed Jewish.

The trepidation is a shame because considerations of how being Jewish shapes ones outlook should be free of anxieties about what anti-Semites will make of it. And there are meaningful Jewish stories behindthe decisions of these witnesses to become constitutional scholars:

I grew up in Alabama, and I grew up Jewish in Alabama inthe1960s, Gerhardt told C-Span last year, and that was a time of great turbulence, andthe timethecivil rights movement was sort of unfolding, and it was all unfolding in front of me, and I paid attention to it, and that those events that arose inthe 60s and early 70s really shaped my interest in civil rights, but also my interest in law.

Karlan, delivering closing remarks in 2006 at theannual meeting oftheliberal American Constitution Society, called herself one ofthe snarky, bisexual, Jewish women who wantthe freedom to say what we think, read what we want and love who we do,calling on listeners to seize backthe high ground on patriotism and on love of our country from the rich, pampered, prodigal, sanctimonious, incurious, white, straight sons ofthe powerful.

Feldman, who in 2015 launched Harvards Julis-Rabinowitz Program in Jewish and Israeli Law, also helped draftthe Iraqi constitution; he is gripped by how and whether religious and civil law can coexist.

Jewish law and Israeli law are distinct and different,Feldman was quoted as saying by Tablet atthe time ofthelaunch oftheHarvard program, yet they also interact and make claims on each other.

In Other News

Georgia on my mind:Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a conservative narrowly elected a year ago with a boost from Trump, this week named businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to filltheSenate seat vacated by Johnny Isakson, who is ill.Thetwist is that Trump wanted Kemp to name Doug Collins,theranking member ofthe Judiciary Committee who ledthecharge Wednesday againsttheimpeachment and now Trump and Kemp are onthe outs. Trump is losing his luster in the South (gubernatorial candidates he backed were defeated in Kentucky and Louisiana and won narrowly in Mississippi) and women in Atlantas suburbs, emboldened since Trumps election, are thehinge on whether Georgia turns blue next year. Kemp does not want to further alienate them.

A lot of those women are Jewish. I spoke to two who head up asalon of 1,500 Jewish women aimed at flippingthestatefor Democrats, and also toAtlanta-area Jews who are grappling with how to rebuild a moribund alliance with African-Americansas a means to topple Republicans.Two Jewish candidates feature in two separate Senate races next year, and I met with both.

Two states and only two states:Earlier this year, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif, introduced a resolution backed by J Street,theliberal Middle East policy group, that wouldrecommit Congress to a two-state outcome totheIsraeli-Palestinian conflict. Theidea was to keeptheoutcome alive while boththeTrump and Netanyahu governments had retreated from it.Theresolution likely comes to a vote before this week ends, and it has had a rocky road.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., themajority leader, endeavored to sign on Republicans totheresolution. They agreed, iftheword only was removed fromthe phrase onlytheoutcome of a two-state solution that enhances stability and security for Israel, Palestinians, and their neighbors can both ensurethestate of Israels survival as a Jewish and democratic state and fulfillthelegitimate aspirations ofthePalestinian people for a state of their own. J Street forcefully objected andthe Republicans balked.The resolution will pass with only, but a look atthesponsor list features only Democrats it wont accrue many, if any, Republicans.

Bipartisanship is becoming harder: AIPAC has been asking its members for weeks to get senators to sponsor legislation that would extend sanctions to entities dealing with already sanctioned Palestinian groups. So far, it has 20 sponsors for the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act of 2019, but until this week there was just one Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who initiated thebill with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Ive heard another two Democrats have just signed on.

Clemmons making Clemmonade:Alan Clemmons istheRepublican South Carolina state legislator you may never have heard of who is shaking up U.S. Israel policy. His2015 bill penalizing Israel boycotters has become a template for other state bills doingthesame thing. He ledthepush in 2016 fortheGOP to removethetwo-state outcome commitment from its platform. Clemmons now chairs ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that circulates templates for state legislation themodel Clemmons pursued after passing his 2015 bill targetingthe movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. That puts him in a position of enormous influence in theconservative world. ALEC had its annual get-together this week in Scottsdale, Arizona. ALEC is a wellspring of learning of, by and for legislators, he said in a release.

Worth a Look

Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice Jay Sekulow hosts the GMA Honors Celebration and Hall of Fame Induction at the Allen Arena at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee on April 29, 2014. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for GMA)

Elizabeth Williamson atTheNew York Times profiles Jay Sekulow,the un-Giuliani:theTrump lawyer not currently mired in scandal and his own legal difficulties. He is alsothe general counsel for Jews for Jesus. Politico reported this week that Sekulows son, Jordan, also a lawyer on Trumps team, gleefully anticipated damagingthe scholars that House Democrats invited to impeachment. I cant wait to find out what crazy stuff the law professors have written, Jordan said on his dads radio show. I bet anti-Israel, borderline anti-Semitic. Maybe anti-American? That was before we learned all three were Jewish.

Tweet So Sweet

Seforim Chatter, an account dedicated to Jewish exegetical texts,uncovers a book on how to properly consume Hanukkah doughnuts.

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The Tell is a weekly roundup of the latest Jewish political news from Ron Kampeas, the Jewish Telegraphic Agencys Washington bureau chief.Sign up hereto receive The Tell in your inbox on Thursday evenings.

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The Tell: Three of the impeachment witness lawyers were Jewish, and it matters - JTA News

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