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Plame says she has joined Jewish temple

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Former CIA operative and New Mexico congressional candidate Valerie Plame, who continues to draw criticism for retweeting an anti-Semitic article in 2017, says she has joined a Jewish congregation.

Valerie Plame

Plame, in a recent interview with an Israeli journalist, said she is a member of Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe, where she has lived for several years.

In videotaped portions of the interview now posted online, Plame said she became interested in her family history after having her twins in 2000 and discovered that her great-grandfather was a rabbi in Ukraine.

“I’ve always been drawn to that aspect of my Jewish heritage,” she said. That led her to Temple Beth Shalom, Plame added.

“I am a big fan of the rabbi,” she said, referring to Rabbi Neil Amswych. “I am a big fan of their social justice initiatives.” The rabbi couldn’t be reached by the Journal for comment Saturday.

Asked specifically if she is a member of the congregation, Plame nodded her head yes and said “Uh-hum.”

Tuesday, Amswych responded via email to a Journal question about whether he could confirm that Plame is a member of Temple Beth Shalom.

“Thank you for being in touch,” he wrote. “I’m afraid I cannot help you, though, because our membership information is not public. I can say that Temple Beth Shalom is a welcoming, inclusive community that is open to all.”
A representative of Plame’s congressional campaign had no comment in response to Journal questions.

Plame’s infamous tweet from 2017 was of an article entitled “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars” that came from a controversial website.

After briefly defending the tweet online, Plame apologized, saying she had merely skimmed the article, which said Jews should be labeled as such when serving as commentators on television news shows. She told Twitter followers, “I’m not perfect and make mistakes. This was a doozy. All I can do is admit them, try to be better, and read more thoroughly next time. Ugh.”

Plame had previously tweeted out articles from the same Unz Reader website and the same author before the one that got her into trouble. The American Conservative cut ties with the author of the piece tweeted by Plame after the controversy.

Last year, Plame joined a crowded Democratic field running for the U.S. House in northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Incumbent Rep Ben Ray Luján is running for U.S. Senate this year.

One of Plame’s Democratic primary opponents, Santa Fe District Attorney Marco Serna, has repeatedly criticized Plame for tweeting the anti-Semitic article and has suggested, without proof, that she has white supremacist supporters.

Former Santa Fe Mayor Sam Pick, who was born into a Jewish immigrant family, has also attacked Plame over the tweet. He wrote in a newspaper opinion piece that her apology was “not enough, especially since Plame has a history of sharing articles from the same source, including one claiming ‘Israeli-occupied Congress confronts the White House.’ ”

Pick had no comment when contacted Saturday.

Plame has recently emphasized that she has Jewish roots, saying in a popular James Bond-style campaign ad that she comes from Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. She also has issued news releases condemning hate crimes against Jews.

Addressing a recent stabbing attack targeting Jews in Monsey, N.Y., she said, “I encourage all people of goodwill to support or establish programs in their communities that work to combat anti-Semitism.”