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Cory Booker, Chabad and Peter Beinart’s Manufactured Scandal

June 20, 2013 9:17 am 20 comments

"Open Zion" Editor Peter Beinart. Photo:

In a recent column, political pundit and career Israel-basher, Peter Beinart, had harsh words for the world’s largest Jewish outreach movement – Chabad.

More specifically, Beinart expressed concern over the relationships that Newark Mayor and would-be-Senator of New Jersey, Cory Booker, maintains with two Chabad rabbis whom the star politician became acquainted with as a student.

Citing the lone testimony of the late Rabbi David Hartman, Beinart concludes that Chabad is theologically “deeply primitively racist.” Interestingly, just paragraphs later, Beinart praises Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for referring to Islam as “a great world religion.”

Of course many of the world’s great religions include phrases in their core texts that claim the superiority of the said set of beliefs. However, surely any doctrine is better judged based on the way in which its adherents go about their lives.

I wonder what the many Asian victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami who were the benefactors of Chabad’s color blind relief effort, would have to say about Beinart’s assessment. “When it comes to the aid, we have seen no lines in who we assist,” Yosef Zaklos, a Chabad rabbi involved in the relief efforts, told the Jerusalem Post at the time, “Just the other day, we gave aid to a Muslim family. It’s not Jewish-oriented aid, it’s humanitarian aid.”

Perhaps another point of call for Mr. Beinart in his efforts to research Chabad should have been the members of the largely African American community whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “One of those rescued from New Orleans put it this way: In the days after Katrina hit, Chabad saved lives,” said President George W. Bush, singling out Chabad for praise.

Victims of Hurricane Sandy, the Japanese earthquake of 2011, the recent Oklahoma tornadoes and numerous other crises will tell you the same story. Perhaps Mr. Beinart, before trumpeting your wholesale slander of one of the most active and powerful Jewish humanitarian organizations the world has ever seen, you will provide one, just one example of an act of racial prejudice that has been perpetrated in the name of Chabad’s ideology.

Islam’s Koran on the other hand, includes such phrases as this one: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned.”

Sadly, the instances in which the followers of Islam have perpetrated such brutalities it its name are too numerous to count.

Yet in Beinart’s world of supreme intellectual dishonesty and stunningly blatant hypocrisy, it is Chabad that is to be singled out for “racism”?

The next bone that Beinart has to pick with Chabad is over the stance held by many of the movement’s rabbis regarding whether or not it is a good idea for Israel to give away land to the Palestinian Arabs.

In Beinart’s reckoning it appears that this issue is the sole barometer by which the values of “universal justice” are measured, and Cory Booker is lacking in moral leadership by virtue of his mere affiliation with those who aren’t enthusiastically parading the banner of Palestinian Arab nationalism.

“How could rabbis so blind to injustice against Palestinians forge such a close bond to a politician who has built his political persona on impassioned pleas for justice?” asks Beinart of the relationship between Booker and rabbis Boteach and Shmully Hecht.

But if Beinart actually made an effort to research Chabad’s position on the creation of a Palestinian Arab state he would come to understand that it is rooted in the ultimate justice: the preservation of human life.

“The only subject matter under discussion -at any rate, from my treatment of it – is the purely Halachic (Jewish legal) subject of the preservation of life as it affects the question of returning any part of the liberated areas,” wrote the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem  Schneerson, in correspondence with the late former Commonwealth Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits on the matter, between 1980 and 1982. “Now in regard to the liberated areas, all military experts both Jewish and non-Jewish agree that in the present situation giving up any part of them would create serious security dangers,” he explained.

Years later Schneerson’s concerns were affirmed when successive territorial compromises resulted almost directly in increased bloodshed.

Perhaps Beinart can explain why Palestinian Arab nationalism is so important a goal in his eyes that he does not even consider the concerns held by Chabad to be worthy of consideration.

If Beinart’s un-expert military opinion differs from those cited by the Rebbe, then let him make his case. But, to assault the moral fiber of Chabad’s ideology, which is based on the belief that there is no greater injustice than the loss of human life, is simply perverse.

To Mr. Booker: please pay no heed to Beinart’s ill-informed, self-righteous pronouncements and feel free to get chummy with as many Chabad rabbis as you please.

The author is the Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed


  • Judy Silver-Shapiro

    peter beinart, who obviously has beaucoup problems, J Street, ‘peace now,’ the New Israel Fund, et numerous als, are self-loathers whose sole priority and agenda is to demonize and weaken ISRAEL and the JEWISH people. They are the epitome of ‘Enemies From the Inside’, who when joined with our ‘Enemies From the Outside’ are lethal to both the future of ISRAEL as well as JEWISH Continuity.

  • Bathsheva Gladstone

    So let little brightboy beinart go the way of chomsky, finklestein, and that clown horror–judy butler–good riddance! They are not changing minds, just sadly following those who would rather see them dead. Ultimately inconsequential and pathetic.

  • ROBERT: mind if a give a little twist to what you posted?
    after you give a helping hand…..
    make sure its still attached as we have seen to many times being attacked after taking ‘them’ out of danger.

  • Dear Peter Bienart, You used to be intelligent but lately you have chosen to become a publicity tart and a blockhead. Maybe it’s good to attract petrodollars into your pocket but it’s far from the the truth. Chabad has provided an uplifting, humanity-affirming message to a global audience for over 200 years. Yes, Beinart, rabbinic Judaism has a universal message that neither silly nor thuggish. Clean up your prejudices and you will be surprised.

  • Gilda Atzmon Beinart is at it again. Another Jewish anti Semite of dubious note who enjoys his “recognition ” amongst the Jewish Enablers of Anti semitism and has a publication called the Daily Beast that gives him and his ilk a platform to bash Israel on a regular basis.
    Aljazeera would like to recruit him to do their nefarious work for them. Maybe they don’t want him either !!

  • Robert Spitalnick

    Beinart is a twit and a phony. I nominate him for cherem.


  • Steve Klein

    Dovid Efune wrote: “The next bone that Beinart has to pick with Chabad is over the stance held by many of the movement’s rabbis regarding whether or not it is a good idea for Israel to give away land to the Palestinian Arabs….”

    Having read Beinart’s book, “The Crisis of Zionism,” I suspect it is this bone that colors all other bones Beinart has to pick with his fellow Jews who are Torah observant (G-d-fearing) Jews.

    • Elliot J. Stamler

      You, Mr. Klein, are as bad in your way as Beinart is in his. What makes you insult every non-Orthodox Jew (of which I am one) as NOT being God-fearing or for that matter being complete unobservant of the Torah. You are another example of why the 85% of us non-Orthodox detest you people for your insular arrogance and religious conceit. Beinart is simply another J-Street anti-zionist who has decided to become part of that ilk-his choice-it has nothing to do with religiosity one way or the other. Keep it up Klein and you Orthodox will be the only Zionists and you would probably like the idea.

  • I think Beinart was tired of being an unknown intellectual at the New Republic and decided his best career move was to become an Israel basher. He is too smart a man to be that intellectually dishonest.

  • David S. Most

    Peter Beinart is just one example of the breed of anti-Israel Jewish “intellectuals” who pride themselves on knowing the “truth” of any issue involving Jews, Israel, or for that matter anything else.

    He gets himself onto TV talking-heads-programs specifically because he is a Jew espousing anti-Israel and totally leftist positions.

    Mr. Beinart would probably contribute $$ to Hamas to confirm his undying leftist, anti-Israel positions.

    • Here’s my response to that worm-eaten boy, although I shared it with him personally, in a private message on Facebook.

      It is what it is, for better or worse, though certainly more enjoyable than hammering-out opinions to like-minded
      readers (with respect to most forum members, who write much more eloquently than I)


      Conversation started today

      Gregg Pilchman
      As an American and an Israeli, I find the scripts you produce on Israel/Jews (and ‘Palestine’) to be nothing short of odious. You have no idea how such venomous utterances directly affect other people, in terms of their personal safety, as Jews, living in openly Antisemitic countries around the globe.

      To now demonize Chabad?


      [Sweden, Norway, England, France, Holland, Austria, Venezuela]

      What do you know of Chabad Peter?

      Maybe Mumbai II, just to drive-home the ‘anti-racist’ message Peter? Those racist Chabadnikim in India.

      Venezuela maybe?

      The Jews there get slapped-around quite a bit. You knew that though. That’s why you’re the ‘Bad Flavor of the Week’ among thinking people involved in these affairs (who are not on TV, because their work is serious, not another episode ofg Lil’ Peter playing journalist at potty time. Because that’s exactly what you’re tossing into the ether, and it looks and smells awful.)

      I know the former Venezuelan Chabad rabbi intimately, you media buffoon. To call a non-proselytizing Global Open Door to Jews…


      ‘That’s not the Israel I want my kids to go visit?, Peter bumbles lilke a fool on Jon Stewart, or some other non-critical den of half-baked dopes, who watch TV for a living.

      Wasn’t that one of your last ignorant snorts Mr. Beinart?

      ‘Your’ Israel?

      What you are, in fact, is another small part of an insipid problem among Jews Peter, and as a result, make us look bad. I’d simply call you a weak link, and another unfortunately-audible bobbling head, impishly spraying snot into the ‘blog-o-sphere’, with other BDS ideologues.

      I’d kindly just ask you to watch what emerges between that gap-toothed grin–particularly when entertaining embarrassingly vulgar meditations on the identity in which you so painfully twist about.

      Ultimately Peter, its those like yourself, who foment Antisemitism here at home, and we don’t need any stinking Antisemitism in Newark, or anywhere around it. I know many pweople, including my parents, and grandparents who endured it there for decades.

      Let the virus die in Jersey Peter.



      • Clarify my comment ‘endured’ to signify ‘lived with episodically’, and for years.

        There were no Pogroms in Newark.

        Jersey Strong

  • Russell Conn

    Well done Dovid an excellent article and a really cogent argument I’ve heard Cory Booker speak at the annual Colel Chabad dinner in NYC and he speaks very eloquently so well done to you for highlighting this calumny

  • David Hersch

    On a recent visit by Peter Beinart I attended a public meeting in Cape Town he addressed. I found him singularly unimpressive, opinionated and arrogant. Holes are easily blown into his arguments and assertions, which of course one never really gets a chance from the floor to do.

    So what is this all about? Simple – Take a contraire view of a hot subject such as Israel, claim anything you like that opposes the general view and mainstream, and Bob’s your uncle, you suddenly find yourself quoted, interviewed, feted, wined and dined by the media and fussed over by the discombobulated.

    Allow me to give you another example. When Bennie Morris started as a historian, if he had merely regurgitated what had already been written when writing his first book, he certainly would not have stood out. Instead he took and invented a controversial and contraire view that became the Palestinian bible and used incessantly against Israel to this day. Nothing better in their eyes than to get one Jew to espouse their view and eternal clutching at straws. Only in latter years, having made a name for himself, Morris reversed his position as so well illustrated in his book, 1948. Suddenly he now agrees with history as it was recorded before he started making a name for himself.

    Beinart is an opportunist and a self-marketer of note and we can expect this to continue for some time until he tires of it. Don’t look for integrity, only for self-interest and self-promotion. He is so obvious, it is basic Psychology 101.

    Cape Town

  • Rabbi (so-called) Hartman writings clearly reveal him as a “cofer,” and an “epikuros.” Check them out along with various articles critically appraising them. His “recommendation” re Chabad, as well as his recommendations about other issues is unreliable as he is a person of extremely poor judgment

    • Raymond in DC

      I first heard Hartman in Montreal shortly after he received his Ph.D. based on the writings of Maimonides. I heard him twice more in subsequent years, and read one of his books. Calling him a “cofer” and “epikuros” is uncalled for. He may have trended more liberal than you like, but he did far more for k’lal yisrael than you (or I) ever will.

      As far as Chabad being “racist”, the closest one comes is their contention that Jews have a soul distinct from that of the Gentiles. After my father passed away, though we are of Sephardic background, a Chabadnik visited us during our shiva and made a remark along those lines that had to hurt our non-Jewish neighbors who’d come to pay respects. But however closely they hold to that belief, it seems to matter not as Chabad does its humanitarian work, whether in Thailand or India or Mississippi.

      • Hillel Raeburn

        ‘…contention that Jews have a soul distinct from that of the Gentiles.’

        Why would this hurt their feelings? They have their soul and job to do on earth and we have ours. Where’s the problem?

  • Ralph Vaughan

    Like many sects, Chabad has morphed into a charitable organization without losing its focus and purpose. Islam, on the other hand, remains what it started out as — violent, intolerant, thuggish, and exclusive. Given a choice, I would always choose the helping hand over the hand with the sword.

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