Lieberman: Battle ‘Islamic terrorists’

BOSTON — Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, in what he said was a preview of his scheduled Thursday speech before the Democratic National Convention, told a group of Jewish Democrats honoring him here Monday that it was time to do ideological battle with “Islamic terrorists.”
In remarks to about 200 people at a luncheon sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council, which calls itself the national voice of Jewish Democrats, Lieberman said those who want to crush terrorism must understand that “differing visions of what God is” are at the root of the problem.

Lieberman didn’t mention his affiliation with a recently reincarnated group called the Committee on the Present Danger, which during the Cold War attacked Soviet communism as the greatest threat to American freedom.

In its latest version, the group announced two weeks ago in full-page newspaper advertisements that it intends to wage “this generation’s war” and educate the American people on the nature of the danger posed by organized, global terrorism.

The committee, headed by former CIA Director James Woolsey, includes neoconservative academics and politicians and business and labor leaders who were among the most outspoken proponents of the war in Iraq.

Many also are prominent Republicans, including Jeane Kirkpatrick and Edwin Meese, ambassador to the United Nations and attorney general, respectively, during the Reagan administration, and former professional football star, congressman, and 1996 vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp.

Lieberman is one of the group’s two honorary chairmen, along with U.S. Rep. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

Lieberman said after his remarks that he while he didn’t specifically mention the committee, “I did speak to the general principle that animates it, which is that we are in a war against terrorism, but it’s really a war against Islamic terrorism.

“We’re going to win it, not only on the battlefield, but by reaching out and building bridges to the Muslim moderates. I’m going to speak about some of that on Thursday, but also about the war in Iraq. I continue to believe very strongly that we did the right thing in overthrowing Saddam Hussein.”

Lieberman accepted the JFK Leadership Award from the group after listening to a series of tributes, including several that suggested he had broadened the political horizons of American Jews by running for vice president in 2000.

Steve Grossman, a founder of the group, former head of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, proclaimed Lieberman “a hero of the Jewish people.”

A prodigious fund-raiser, Grossman also estimated that there are 1.3 million Jewish voters in the “battleground states” that are the focus of the presidential election and encouraged Jews to contribute time and money to the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

Cameron Kerry, brother of the presumptive Democratic nominee, also addressed the group, citing his conversion to Judaism and what he described as his brother’s abiding commitment to Israel.