Agroup of synagogue presidents on the Paterson side of the newly minted Ninth Congressional District are urging Orthodox Jewish Republicans to switch to the Democratic Party in time to vote for Rep. Steve Rothman in the June congressional primary. Rothman faces Rep. William J. Pascrell, Jr., who has represented the Paterson side of the district since 1997. The two legislators were forced into a face-off because of redistricting. (See the article beginning on page 7.)

The effort, which became public following a mailing by the presidents that was paid for by the Rothman campaign, suggests to some that the only issue Jewish voters care about is the safety and security of the State of Israel. It is a gift to every anti-Semite who has ever accused Jews of being “Israel firsters.” Already, some Arab-American groups in the area are saying as much quite effectively.

Fostering such a distorted view of Jewish loyalty to the United States is not what the letter-writers or Rothman intended. We know that, but others either do not know it or do not want to know it. We urge the presidents and the congressman to find a way to make that clear – and to do so quickly, before more damage is done.