(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
Leslie Cockburn, a Democratic nominee for Virginia's 5th Congressional District, set off national shockwaves when on Sunday she accused Republican opponent Denver Riggleman of being a "devotee of Bigfoot erotica" based on a picture from Riggleman's Instagram account.
But Cockburn herself is no stranger to controversy, as she has been accused of harboring antisemitic and anti-Israel views of her own. Cockburn's book The Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship unfavorably characterizes Israel's relationship with the United States, claiming Israel secretly controls US policy.
"My opponent Denver Riggleman, running mate of Corey Stewart, was caught on camera campaigning with a white supremacist. Now he has been exposed as a devotee of Bigfoot erotica. This is not what we need on Capitol Hill," she wrote Sunday on Twitter.
On the official website of the Republican Party in Virginia, the party accuses the Democrats of having nominated a "virulent antisemite in the Fifth District," positing, "Cockburn has a long history of antisemitic rhetoric which can be documented over at least the past 25 years."
Antisemitic attacks are often cloaked under the veil of criticism of Israel. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines antisemitic attacks as ones that include, "targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity," or "accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations."
Cockburn, a career journalist before her turn to politics, co-authored the book in 1991 with her husband Andrew Cockburn, which was described by The New York Times
as "largely dedicated to Israel-bashing for its own sake” in the paper's review.
"Its first message is that, win or lose, smart or dumb, right or wrong, suave or boorish, Israelis are a menace. The second is that the Israeli-American connection is somewhere behind just about everything that ails us," the paper wrote.
For her part, Cockburn has denied the claims. “This is a book from 27 years ago,” she said to the Times
. “It was a tough book looking at the US-Israeli covert operations, intelligence and military. So, yeah, it’s a book of journalism from a long time ago. I’ve had a very long, wonderful, successful, award-winning career since then, and so to reach way back in the past, pull this out — and that’s why it was very important to me that the Jewish community read the book, looked at it and made up their minds.”Commentary
Magazine described Cockburn's message of collusion between the US and Israel as "the military-industrial complexes of both countries need war in order to maintain their privileged positions in society."
Cockburn includes a whole section on her campaign website devoted to Israel and related issues, claiming, "as a member of Congress, I will respect that relationship and do everything in my power to encourage its most productive and creative use to promote peace in the region and a two-state solution."
Republican candidates across the US have been distanced from the party for antisemitic statements
and Holocaust denia
l in the run-up to the midterm elections, scheduled to take place in November.Jonathan Weber Rosen contributed to this report.
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