Is Rick Perry palling around with extremists?

By David Edwards
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 8:12 EDT
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At his Tuesday speech on Israel, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry was flanked by a number of conservative politicians and religious leaders. But one figure, who is a Democrat, may be more controversial and extreme than all of the others.

Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind recieved a warm public embrace from Perry after he gave the Texas governor’s remarks his seal of approval.

“I had the same speech speech, identical to what you had there,” Hikind told Perry. “I think the American people need change they can believe in. I’m not endorsing anyone today — I see it beyond the pale to support Barack Obama, having watched him these past three years.”

“But I like what I heard today, both publicly from the governor, who has a record of friendship to the people of Israel way before he ever thought of running for president. Saw your article in The Wall Street Journal, and I said that sounds like me. That sounds like the speeches I have been making for years… So, governor, what you said publicly and what you said privately upstairs, God bless you and for today, I wish you all the luck in the world.”

Hikind was at one time a top lieutenant in the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a group that the FBI later classified as a terrorist organization.

The FBI’s website describes the JDL as “violent extremist Jewish organization” whose members conspired to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on a California mosque and the offices of Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA) in 2001.

“The group has orchestrated countless terrorist attacks in the U.S. and abroad, and has engaged in intense harassment of foreign diplomats, Muslims, Jewish scholars and community leaders, and officials,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

In 2006, Hikind recalled to The Jewish Daily Forward the extent to which J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI investigated his organization.

“I remember we had pictures of potential FBI informants in the JDL office,” Hikind said, adding that it was “amazing” to think of “the level of resources the government used to destroy the JDL and how [JDL leader Rabbi Meir Kahane] and a bunch of kids got them so excited.”

More recently, Hikind has left behind the JDL for a different kind of extremism.

At a 2005 press conference, he held up pictures of Muslim men and explained that all terrorists “look basically like this.” The assemblymen has also compared homosexuality to incest.

In 1998, Hikind narrowly escaped indictment for illegally receiving thousands of dollars from a social services group.

Three months after pastor John Hagee endorsed Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008, the Arizona senator made the decision to reject his support over extremist comments. Only time will tell if Perry has to do the same because of Hikind’s support.

Watch this video from CNN, broadcast Sept. 19, 2011.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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