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Palm Beach County Democrats are calling for Mark Alan Siegel, the Palm Beach County Democratic Party Chairman to resign. Siegel is creating controversy on the sidelines of the party's national convention in Charlotte, saying he believes Christians want Jews "slaughtered."
"What he did was extremely inappropriate. There's a certain line and when you cross that line, you have to do the right thing. If he wants to do the right thing, he needs to stepdown as Democratic Party Chairman officially," says State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, a Democrat from Wellington.
Siegel agreed to take a leave of absence, but would not officially step down from his position as Chairman.
In an interview posted on the conservative website, PatriotUpdate.com , Siegel said, "I'm Jewish. I'm not a fan of any religion other than Judaism." When asked if he's not a fan of Christianity, Siegel responded, "No, I'm not. The Christians just want us to be there so we can be slaughtered and converted and bring on the second coming of Jesus Christ."
Siegel went on to say, "They're not our friends. They want Israel to pursue policies which are antithetical with its security and existence. The worst possible allies for the Jewish state are the fundamentalist Christians who want Jews to die and convert so they can bring on the second coming of their Lord. It is a false friendship. They are seeking their own ends and not ours."
Siegel was interviewed by Scottie Neil Hughes, a reporter who represents Patriot TV and the Tea Party News Network.
Local Jews and Christians are responding to his remarks.
"I don't know any Christian who believes what he just said, let alone all Christians. I was very surprised and disappointed by his remarks," says Dr. Tom Duncan, the President of Northwood University Florida, and an ordained minister.
"When someone speaks with such a broad paint brush, it can have very damaging effects between those who might identify with the label, but don't agree with what was said," says Temple Israel Rabbi Cookie Lea Olshein.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Siegel later apologized.
Here's his statement: "I apologize to all Democrats and Floridians for my ill chosen words last night. After watching the interview I realize that what I said did not accurately make the point I was trying to establish. More importantly I apologize to all Christians, Jews and other people of faith for any embarrassment or anger my remarks may have caused. Throughout my life I have practiced religious tolerance among all people of faith. I am sincerely sorry for any remarks I made that may have diminished that record. I alone am responsible for my remarks and I pray that they are not taken as the position of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party."
Lois Frankel, who is running for Congress says in a statement, "I disagree with Mr. Siegel's comments in the strongest terms. His remarks were offensive. Mr. Siegel has decided to take a leave of absence from his position in the Palm Beach County Democratic Party. This is not enough."
Yael Hershfield, ADL Florida Interim Regional Director, issued the following statement:
"The Anti-Defamation League is glad to see that Mr. Siegel has issued a sincere apology for his offensive comments about Christians, and that he made it clear he was solely responsible for them. Religious bigotry has no place in politics and civil society."
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