If Democrat congressional candidate David Weprin had his way, the race to replace Anthony Weiner in Congress would not be focused on Israel and President Barack Obama at all.
“The real issues in this campaign are preserving Social Security and Medicare and creating jobs,” said Weprin.
His Republican opponent Bob Turner sees it differently.
“For many, this is an important referendum on Israel. This government, the Obama administration, has pursued a course that is antithetical to the interests of Israel,” Turner said.
The emergence of Israel as a major issue in this race is something of a surprise. Weprin is an orthodox Jew, yet some strong supporters of Israel are calling on voters to back his opponent.
One of them, Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind, crossed party lines to back Turner.
“I need something fresh. Bob Turner is something fresh,” Hikind said. “And the other side, the only way they think they can win, by the way, is to scare people.”
Weprin has had trouble winning over some Jewish voters because of his vote in favor of same-gender marriage. He defended the vote in front of a largely Jewish audience at a candidate forum.
“It has nothing to do with my personal religious beliefs. I am not running for Rosh Yeshiva,” said Weprin.