Arab-American activist Hussein Ibish, who was attacked by State Sen. Gerald Cardinale yesterday for his connection to Democratic Senate candidate Joseph Ariyan’s law partner, says that “this turn of events in New Jersey shows that some unprincipled politicians still feel that ethnic baiting of this kind might still be an effective campaign tactic.”

Read the full text of Ibish’s statement:

I had never heard of either State Sen. Gerald Cardinale or Mr. Joseph Ariyan, and do not follow New Jersey state politics. Imagine my surprise, then, to suddenly find myself turned into a campaign issue in the 39th District State Senate election currently underway between those candidates.

This turn of events is bizarre and disturbing, but instructive at a number of levels.

In an article recently published on (“Cardinale says Arab group an issue,” by Matt Friedman, November 1, 2007), Cardinale attempted to smear his opponent by leveling a McCarthyite accusation against a well-known and respectable Arab-American civil rights organization, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), for which I was communications director from 1998-2004.

The article reports that Cardinale cited my own statements as demonstrating that there is “something darker lurking behind its anti-discriminatory façade” and claiming that I made “several sympathetic remarks about Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Needless to say, Cardinale’s charges are a malicious slander that grossly distorts my views and long standing track record on these issues. It is a cynical attempt to smear his opponent through guilt-by association several times removed and is based on blatant falsehoods. Even by the standards of dishonesty that sometimes characterize failing political campaigns, this tactic is shocking and despicable.

Cardinale is clumsily trying to use these slanders against me to vilify the character of ADC, and from that to sully the reputation of his opponent’s law partner, Hani Khoury, who is a member of ADC, and from then, finally, to somehow call into question Mr. Ariyan himself.

Can there really be anyone in the whole State of New Jersey gullible enough to fall for such transparent and ham-fisted attempts at fear-mongering and manipulation? Is this not the very definition of McCarthyism at its lowest? (MORE)


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