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YOUNGSTOWN Traficant incites ire with remarks



Published: Mon, September 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A Mahoning Valley political group that supports the congressman also is not pleased with his remarks.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A national Jewish Democratic organization is condemning statements by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant on the House floor that recent terrorist attacks were a byproduct of the United States' support of Israel.

"Such language is muddle-headed and disgraceful, particularly at a time such as this," said Ira N. Forman, the council's executive director. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms his placing the blame for this crime on American support for Israel."

What he said: During a speech on the House floor Wednesday, a day after terrorists flew hijacked planes into New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Traficant said: "It may be unpopular to say, but I believe America's policy in the Mideast is so one-sided that we endanger now American citizens. We must be fair in our policies."

Citing an article in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, Forman said Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, is a frequent critic of Israel and has taken more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from a group the State Department has called a terrorist organization -- The People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran.

"Representative Traficant is an embarrassment to the Congress, and his congressional colleagues should marginalize him as much as possible and say publicly that his words are beyond the pale," said Forman, who heads the national organization that represents Jewish interests in the Democratic Party and promotes a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

"It is wholly unacceptable to try to scapegoat Israel, our one Democratic ally in the Middle East, at this tremendously difficult time," Forman added. "And it is even lower to try to blame this unprecedented catastrophe on our partnership with Israel."

Although Traficant has built a career saying the outrageous, Forman said, "Scapegoating in such a shameful, simple-minded way in this moment of national tragedy and mourning is one step too far, even for him."

Charles Straub, Traficant's spokesman, said today he has no comment.

Group isn't pleased: Also, the Democrats of the 17th District is not pleased with Traficant's recent statements.

The group is one of the last local political organizations to be supportive of Traficant, who faces a 10-count indictment on charges of racketeering, bribery and tax evasion. The group will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Poland Community Baseball Association Hall to discuss Traficant's statements and consider a resolution in response to what he said.

Mark Belinky, the group's president, said Traficant's statements were unacceptable and should be condemned. Andy Hamady, the group's treasurer, said he, too, is displeased with the congressman's statements.

skolnick@vindy.com




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