Published Sunday, July 4, 2004 1:00 am
by Neal Heller
So that nobody will accuse me of being biased, let’s get this information right out in the open. I have been a strong supporter of U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch during his 12 years in Congress. I have contributed to his campaign for the United States Senate and have contributed to his campaigns many times over the years. I consider him a friend and believe him to be the best candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that is being vacated by Bob Graham.
Providing investment and profit making opportunity with a small amount of investment to reap the benefits in digital currency crypto coins is in itself a great learning and gaining experience which traditional trading platforms may not be able to give the desired outcome within a very short span of time, navigate to this web-site and learn more about the crypto trading world.
That being said, I want to address a brewing controversy that may or may not help Deutsch in his quest to win the Democratic Senate nomination over Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas and former Education Commissioner and ex-University of South Florida President Betty Castor.
Apparently, many in the Democratic Party are very uncomfortable with the aggressive nature of the Deutsch campaign. They want everybody to play fair, be nice and let the voters decide this race on something other than the records of the candidates and how they have responded to pressure-packed, critical situations in the past.
I wonder, though. Isn’t decision-making under pressure a vitally important issue when it comes to choosing the next senator from Florida? Senator Graham has come out and said that this campaign should focus on important issues such as the need to reform our intelligence agencies and look to the future. How can we look to the future without examining the past?
What is it with Democrats that makes them so uncomfortable with fighting a strong campaign that exposes other candidates’ weaknesses? Deutsch has gone on the offensive against both of his opponents. He has made strong and accurate statements that certainly demand real answers from Penelas and Castor.
In a debate last month, Deutsch charged Penelas with abandoning the Al Gore presidential campaign prior to the 2000 election and then completely disappearing when efforts were being made in Dade County to recount votes while under siege from Republican operatives.
Penelas, the supposed leader of Dade County, was nowhere to be found – and the recount never was completed. You didn’t hear a murmur from Penelas at a time when his party sorely needed his leadership in a crucial situation. Deutsch brought it up at a debate and was summarily admonished for his so-called personal attack.
Lo and behold, when Gore was asked about Penelas a few days later, he was quoted as saying that Penelas was “the single most treacherous and dishonest person” during the 2000 campaign. Is that who the Democrats want to represent them in the race for the Senate? I would think not.
Deutsch, who worked tirelessly to get Gore elected, watched as Penelas virtually allowed the election to be stolen in his backyard. As we all now know, Florida went to Bush and the rest, as they say, is history.
This attack on Penelas was both fair and accurate. Who are we to disregard the words of Al Gore in this instance as nobody suffered more for the inaction of Mayor Penelas? Deutsch’s latest attack is directed toward Castor while she was USF President. Deutsch and a group supporting his campaign have asserted that Castor did not do enough – while presiding over USF – to rid the campus of Islamic terrorist influence. Specifically, Castor did not act to fire Professor Sami Al-Arian, who used his position at the university to further his terrorist activities.
Al-Arian, who is now under federal indictment, raised money and sent it to Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people around the world, mostly Israelis.
Al-Arian was not the only USF professor to be linked directly to terrorist groups. One of his former colleagues left the university in 1995 and surfaced five months later as the new leader of Islamic Jihad.
Castor has denied that she acted wrongly in not firing Al-Arian. She did, in fact, put him on a paid leave in 1996 while an investigation took place. However, he was allowed to return to USF in 1998.
Castor claims the FBI did not give her any evidence to support the accusations against Al-Arian and, therefore, she had no choice but to reinstate him. The facts are that Al-Arian was seen on videotape as early as 1995 shouting “death to Israel, death to the United States.”
USF was identified as a hotbed of terrorist activities in Steve Emerson’s book, “American Jihad,” with Al-Arian at the forefront. Castor’s successor and current USF president, Judy Genshaft, suspended him in 2001.
As a university president, Castor should have been appalled at the terrorist activities going on right under her nose. She can feign ignorance all she wants, but there is no way she didn’t know of what so many others knew at that time. She should have been at the front of an effort to get as much documentation as possible from as many sources as possible.
This situation should have been of the highest priority. Instead, at best, she chose the easy way out, to wait and see what the government was going to do about it.
No fewer than 30 articles have been written by the Tampa Tribune on Castor’s handling of the Al-Arian affair. None is very flattering to her. According to the Tribune, she made no immediate attempt to confirm Al-Arian’s terrorist links. She hired a family friend to lead the investigation and USF never confronted Al-Arian to the extent that it should have.
Castor claimed it would have been difficult to justify leaving Al-Arian on a paid leave indefinitely. Well, I suppose now she has to justify why she didn’t.
Again, these charges are justified and Deutsch need make no apology for bringing this ugly situation to the forefront of this campaign. Castor should be held accountable for not reacting to the Al-Arian terrorist links with the fervor it deserved.
Standing by and watching while the public university you lead becomes a bastion for terrorist activities is not acceptable. Again, Senator Graham has rushed to another candidate’s defense.
Also jumping on the anti-Deutsch campaign is none other than Mr. Hypocrite himself, Bruce Warshal, whose publication, the Jewish Journal, wrote earlier this week that Deutsch has smeared Castor. The Jewish Journal even went so far as to invoke its religious authority in ripping Deutsch for going after Castor on this issue.
Warshal has a bias against Deutsch. Although he will write an editorial that sounds unbiased, he has been heard bashing Deutsch and will endorse Castor sometime in the next two weeks. He and his Tribune-owned publication have been waiting for an opportunity to pounce on Deutsch and so they did.
Peter Deutsch has served in Congress for 12 years. His record is an open book and he should and will be judged on that record. His leadership within the party and on important issues should be fair game for his opponents and so too should their leadership or lack thereof.
Penelas and Castor have questions to answer. If another candidate within their party chooses to bring certain matters to the voters’ attention, so be it. These are not personal attacks. They are not family or personal issues. Questions of leadership and loyalty go to the heart of the decision-making process.
Deutsch is well within his rights to bring these issues to the forefront of this campaign, especially when he has the facts to back it up. If he doesn’t, just imagine what the Republicans will do if they get the chance in the general election.
The Boca Raton News will begin celebrating its 50th anniversary this December. As we approach that milestone, we are experiencing a rebirth and revitalization that we believe will allow us to serve our readers better.
I took over the reins of this newspaper in July 2001 realizing that it had lost its direction and focus. At that time, I knew little about the newspaper industry and the last three years have been a valuable learning experience.
Today, I am very proud of the Boca Raton News and the new reputation we have brought to it. I believe we have become an important part of the fabric of this vibrant community and reconnected with every corner of this great area, while forging new relationships with West Boca and Delray Beach.
We are also proud to be one of just a handful of independently owned daily newspapers in the country – a title we wear proudly in our efforts to be the best community newspaper in Boca Raton. We are constantly searching for the best formula that allows us to stay viable, while remaining independent.
Long-standing Boca residents and visitors have seen us progress from a broadsheet to a tabloid. You have witnessed our efforts to strike the right balance between local coverage and national/international news. We may not always satisfy each reader’s expectations, but we think we are gaining ground consistently.
As we continue to improve our product, we must address the seasonality of our business. As all of you know, summers in Boca and Delray are still times when snowbirds travel north or take extended vacations. The financial health of our newspaper requires us to respond to this seasonality, which brings a significantly slower pace to community events, local sports, school activities and social events.
As a result, beginning this week we will be publishing consolidated Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday/ Friday editions, which means we will be publishing five
times a week – Monday, Tuesday/ Wednesday, Thursday/Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We will provide the same extensive coverage and also provide greater opportunities for you to jumpstart your social plans with an advanced weekend edition on Thursday.
We appreciate and need your continued support and to show our gratitude to our loyal readers, we will be extending your subscription for an additional 13 weeks at no additional cost.
We plan to resume our traditional seven-day-a-week print schedule in mid-November. However, we will watch this experiment closely and evaluate its effectiveness going forward.
We thank you for your support and understanding as we begin our voyage into the next fifty years.