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Boschwitz Apologizes For Letter Suggesting Wellstone Wasn’t A Good Jew

November 10, 1990 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Sen. Rudy Boschwitz apologized Friday for a letter sent to some Minnesota Jews on behalf of his unsuccessful re-election campaign suggesting his challenger was not a good Jew.

″I deeply regret having allowed the letter to be written and accept full responsibility for it,″ said Boschwitz, who is Jewish.

Paul Wellstone, who upset the Republican senator in Tuesday’s election, said he appreciated Boschwitz’s remarks and accepted his apology.

″I think it should be the final word,″ said the senator-elect, who is also Jewish.

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The letter, written by two of Boschwitz’s Jewish supporters and signed by them and 70 others, was printed on Boschwitz campaign stationery and mailed at campaign expense Nov. 1.

″Wellstone has no connection with the Jewish community or our communal life,″ the letter said. ″His children were brought up as non-Jews.″

The letter noted that Wellstone served as co-chairman of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign in Minnesota, and said, ″Jesse Jackson has embraced, literally and figuratively, Yasser Arafat, and has never repudiated that embrace.″

Moreover, Wellstone never disassociated himself from any of Jackson’s policies, the letter said.

The letter angered Wellstone’s Jewish supporters, some of whom described it as an attempt to split the Jewish vote over the issue of Israel.

Two days before the election, Wellstone said the letter was ″completely unforgivable.″

″This is making an issue of the fact that we have an interreligious marriage,″ said Wellstone, whose wife is Christian. ″This is the most sensitive issue in the Jewish community there is.″

Boschwitz initially stood by the letter. But on Friday, after the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported that the letter had generated angry discussion among Jews in Israel and the United States, the senator said he was sorry.

″Bringing Jews and non-Jews together has been an important element of my public service and private life,″ Boschwitz said. ″Others will judge over time whether I have made a positive contribution in this regard, but for the moment I simply reiterate my apology.″

Wellstone said Boschwitz’ statement showed a ″tremendous amount of sincerity and conviction.″

″His remarks are powerful,″ Wellstone said. ″It was very hurtful to everybody in our family, but this is a wonderful statement, and I think it’s in the past.″

Wellstone said he didn’t believe the letter was the major reason why Boschwitz lost the election, but he said, ″In the end, it was very damaging for them.″