New York's GOP and Mr. Rick Lazio have engaged in the most racist phone campaign and made horrible public statements about an American community. The GOP targeted Jewish voters, making false statements claiming that the American Muslim Alliance, referred to as an "Arab organization", supported the Hamas' terrorist acts and the bombing of the USS Cole. Mr. Lazio accused Hillary Clinton of "cavorting with terrorists." Those "terrorists" he referred to were the law abiding, peaceful Muslim Americans in Boston.

Those were the lies. Let's look at the truth. First, a Muslim of South Asian origin runs the American Muslim Alliance. He is not an Arab as claimed by the GOP. Second, the American Muslim Alliance has condemned terrorism and does not support the Hamas' terrorist acts. Third, the American Muslims Alliance is deeply saddened that our American soldiers were lost in a senseless bombing and does not support or condone such irrational violence. Finally, Mr. Lazio's statement that Hillary cavorted with terrorists maligns and slanders Muslim American community in Boston, just for taking part in the political process. Now they are being falsely identified as supporters of terrorism or terrorist acts. Mr. Lazio and the GOP ignored the truth in an attempt to score cheap points with New York's Jewish voters.

These statements have damned the entire Muslim American community in one fell swoop. Mr. Lazio demonstrated a manifest ignorance of his own New York community and inability to check the facts before taking action. Mr. Lazio claims that because he's from New York, he better understands New York and New Yorkers than some carpetbagger from Arkansas. If that was the case, how could Mr. Lazio fail to notice that the Muslim American community is as diverse as America itself, with Hispanic-Muslim-Americans, Black-Muslim Americans and Indonesian-Muslim-Americans to name only a few of the ethnicities that form the New York Muslim population. How could he have failed to realize that the intemperate word, playing on strong emotions about the Middle East, imported into the Senate race the zealotry of the Middle East? By openly insulting, slandering and vilifying Muslim participation in the political process, Mr. Lazio demonstrated his inability to appreciate the diversity of Muslim Americans in New York and the numerous communities from which they originate. Even after the responsible press pointed out the falsehoods told by the GOP and Lazio, they refused to apologize. They clearly believe that hate mongering is the way to win an election and telling the truth is not.

The American public is tired of watching the Republican Party use hate for political gain. Our Congress has been tied up with hate for the Clintons for the last 8 years. The Republicans wasted over $40 million dollars so that we could learn he had sexual relations with an intern. Then they subjected us to the long, drawn out disgusting impeachment process that was a complete failure and political debacle.

Now the GOP and Mr. Lazio are trying to use hatred against terrorism to vilify the law-abiding, peaceful Muslim American community - again, to attack a Clinton. Don't the New York GOP and Mr. Lazio have a vision that reaches higher than hate politics? Can't Mr. Lazio generate Jewish support on real policy issues? Instead, he falsely accuses the American Muslim Alliance members of supporting terrorism and even goes so far as to draw the grieving families of the USS Cole into the NY Senate race.

All Americans, including those Americans that are members of the American Muslim Alliance, are deeply saddened by the loss of our American soldiers. Our hearts go out these fine American families that have sacrificed their sons in service to our country. Shame on Mr. Lazio for using their grief, and our grief for them, in such a shameless self-serving manner. These American soldiers and their families deserve more respect that to be made the object of debate in a political race. Mr. Lazio should apologize to them for causing them grief.

Mr. Lazio should also apologize to the American Muslim community for engaging in the politics of hate. If Mr. Lazio called all Irish-Americans terrorists because the IRA has a terrorist wing, Mr. Lazio would be condemned as a racist and a bigot. If Mr. Lazio called all Black-Americans terrorists because the Black Panthers exist, Mr. Lazio would be condemned as a racist and bigot. Similarly, Mr. Lazio has called all Muslim-Americans terrorist because of the actions of some crazy terrorists halfway around the world; Mr. Lazio should be condemned as racist and a bigot. He is engaged in the worst and lowest form of hate politics, relying on racial and religious stereotyping of the worst sort. Mr. Lazio is acting like another Senator who has tarnished American history with his bigotry, Senator Joe McCarthy. Can America afford to repeat the McCarthy era with Mr. Lazio? Who will he pick on next? What will he do when he gets to the Senate? Can we trust a racist to represent us in the Senate of the United States of America?

In contrast to Mr. Lazio's vitriolic image of Muslim Americans, consider this picture, in contrast. On Tuesday night, October 31, I attended an interfaith gathering at St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue. A Jewish Rabbi introduces a Muslim religious leader, an Imam, to an eager audience of Christians, Jews and Muslims. Each person there was interested in learning about the other's faith. This particular night happened to be about Islam. Everyone listened with open minds and open hearts.

It is too bad that Mr. Lazio does not understand this New York, a diverse New York where people are reaching out to understand each other. This is what New York is really about. It is too bad that Mr. Lazio, who grew up on Long Island, cannot appreciate the real New York. New Yorkers have embraced their diversity and included Muslim Americans. Mr. Lazio, in contrast, wields a sledgehammer of lies to create mistrust and divide New Yorkers.

Let's teach the New York Republican Party and Mr. Lazio that false accusations, racism and hate mongering have no place in New York politics.

Say no to racism. Say no to hate politics. Say no to Mr. Lazio.
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