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May 4, 2010 at 10:22 AM

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Seattle Senate candidate condemns attack on Berkeley rabbi

Posted by Kyung M. Song

WASHINGTON -- What does an attack by right-wing Zionist vandals against a liberal Jewish rabbi in Berkeley have to do with the U.S. Senate race in Washington state?

Nothing less than the sanctity of rational democracy, according to Richard Curtis.

Curtis, a Seattle philosopher and theologian who is running as an independent candidate for incumbent Sen. Patty Murray's seat, on Monday sharply denounced an attack on the northern California home of Rabbi Michael Lerner. Vandals used powerful glue to tack posters accusing Lerner -- editor of the liberal Jewish magazine Tikkun -- of "Islamo-fascism" and of being an enemy of Israel.

The attack followed a week of hate mail directed at Tikkun's staff that was apparently prompted by Lerner's plan to honor a South African judge who presided over a United Nations-led fact finding mission that found evidence of war crimes during Israel's invasion of Gaza in 2009.

The judge, Richard Goldstone, was hounded as a traitor by some Jews. Goldstone dropped plans to attend his grandson's bar mitzvah outside Johannesburg this month, citing threat of protests.

Curtis condemned the attack on Lerner's property as the work of Jewish fundamentalists.

"Fundamentalism, in all its forms, but especially the Christian and Jewish varieties are a grave threat to the freedom of the people of the U.S. and Israel," Curtis said. "This is definitely something that should concern voters."

Curtis argues that Christian fundamentalism in particular is more insidious than the Islamic version because its influence on U.S. policy is far more pervasive. Curtis accuses religious fundamentalists -- with full embrace from Republicans and acquiescence from some Democrats -- of hijacking reason from policy debates, be it over a single-payer health-care plan or off-shore oil drilling.

"We don't have a rational discussion over health care. We have an emotional discussion," Curtis said. Politicians "use irrationality as a way of controlling people."

Curtis is currently teaching philosophy at Shoreline Community College. A self-describe atheist, Curtis was raised as a Mormon and a Methodist. He now attends a West Seattle synogogue, which he declined to name in print. Curtis has said that his main motive for running for the Senate is to challenge the entrenched two-party system.

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