An Arab group threatened legal action against state Sen. Gerald Cardinale on Tuesday if he does not retract and apologize for comments he made about the organization during his reelection campaign.The truth is a defense here, and the ADC doesn't have the facts on its side. Pounding on the table is its only resort, and it doesn't look like that will work either.
In a certified letter, the national director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee described several of the senator's campaign statements and ads as "false, malicious and defamatory" and gave Cardinale, R-Demarest, 10 days to issue a public apology.
After that deadline, the letter states, the group would pursue a defamation lawsuit against Cardinale, a 25-year incumbent, who won reelection in November.
"We don't send these letters lightly," said National Director Kareem Shora, adding that "we hope to resolve this as quickly as possible," without legal action.
Cardinale, reached by phone Tuesday, said he would not apologize.
The senator said he had not received a copy of the letter. But he defended his campaign's assertions, namely that high-ranking members of the ADC -- specifically, one of its former national spokesmen -- had publicly expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah.
"I have no malice towards this organization whatsoever, at all," Cardinale said. "They have taken some positions that are positions that many people would disagree with," he said, speaking of some of its officials. "I don't think there are many Americans who are pro-Hezbollah."
The senator invoked the ADC in the final week of his reelection campaign as part of a media blitz against his Democratic opponent, Joseph Ariyan.
Ariyan's law partner and campaign contributor, Hani Khoury, is a past president and current board member of the North Jersey chapter of the ADC.
Using that association, and the public utterances of a former ADC official, Cardinale concluded in one print ad that Ariyan was "too dangerous" to be elected to the state Senate.
There aren't many Americans who are supporters of Hizbullah, but there are plenty of Islamists who have no problem supporting the terrorist group Hizbullah, which is responsible for the murder of Americans, including those killed in the Marine Barracks suicide bombing in 1983.