Did I Make Cory Booker ‘Too Jewish’?

July 2, 2013 6:36 am 1 comment

Cory Booker with Rabbi Yona Metzger.

Recently, Jeffrey Goldberg, a journalist I know and respect, repeated, in the New York Post, Peter Beinart’s attack against me from a few weeks ago, that in bringing Mayor Cory Booker to the Jewish community, beginning twenty years ago in Oxford I made him too pro-Israel. This most recent attack was in both Bloomberg and Newsday and actually complained that Cory, a non-Jewish lover of the Jewish people, was too Jewish to be in the United States Senate.
Journalists have a responsibility to report fairly and communicate truth to their audience. Neither Peter Beinart nor Jeffery Goldberg even picked up a phone to ask me about my position on the Arab-Israeli conflict nor on Palestinian statehood. Beinart claims to have tried to contact me on an email address I have never used when he could easily have written to me through my website or contacted me through any number of his Daily Beast colleagues with whom I am friendly. I have authored an untold number of columns discussing all topics related to Israel – its security, the Middle East peace process, the plight of Palestinians and Israelis, and much more – any one of which could have been consulted for an accurate portrayal of my positions on Israel. Beinart’s editorial connected me with Chabad’s “deeply primitive” theology. I am proudly Chabad and it was the Lubavitcher Rebbe who sent me to Oxford to look after students like Beinart, who came to us many times for Shabbat at Oxford, and more open-minded students like Cory, who became as close as a brother.

Beinart’s attacks on Chabad are mystifying and unfortunate, given that Chabad is universally famous for the unconditional love it shows all humanity. Indeed, Chabad has emerged at the forefront of disaster relief in places like Haiti, which I visited shortly after its catastrophic 2010 earthquake, New Orleans, and most recently Oklahoma.

My own issues with a Palestinian state, in the way it would currently be incarnated, has to do with how Hamas has taken over Gaza, subjecting the innocent Palestinian people to its brutal and terrifying regime. Hamas, as I said in my most recent response to Beinart, is a genocidal organization, whose covenant calls for the annihilation of the Jewish people wherever they may be found. It is profoundly racist, hates and murders gays, is deeply misogynistic, murdering young Arab women for simply having boyfriends, and terrorizes Palestinians who resist its rule. Hamas represents a danger to Jew and Palestinian alike.

My fears, shared with untold numbers of experts, is that immediate Palestinian statehood would extend a warm invitation for Iranian influence when Israel is already contending with Hamas and Hezbollah on its borders. If a Palestinian state turns out to be Hamasistan, or if its demilitarization is not a precondition to independence, would Beinart and Goldberg support it? Should Israel willingly consent to the creation of another entity on its borders whose avowed or undeclared purpose is to destroy it rather than first insisting on a viable and free Palestinian democracy, untainted by terror or rampant corruption, which has yet to transpire. My position now, as it has been for years, is that the existing Palestinian infrastructure needs to embrace real democratic reforms and institutions, that the corruption in the Palestinian authority which robs innocent Palestinians of international aid and destroys their own economy, needs to end, and that Hamas must renounce its charter in which it pledges to destroy the Jewish state at all costs.

I wish for Palestinians in the West Bank to live with the same freedoms of the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel rather than the extreme poverty and desperation of the Palestinians residents of Gaza under Hamas.

Those like Peter Beinart and Jeffrey Goldberg, who maintain far-left sentiments on Israeli politics, would do well not to condemn those who have invested their lives to bring leaders like Cory Booker and so many others to the Jewish community and continue to extend friendship and brotherhood to non-Jews. Peter Beinart was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford at the same time as Cory Booker. Why did he neglect to teach him anything of Jewish values or the State of Israel? Indeed, I do not recall Peter involved in any of our concerted efforts – joined by thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish students – to protect Israel’s reputation at Oxford from a ferocious onslaught, as we brought six Israeli Prime Ministers and countless other Middle East experts, to lecture at the University and tell Israel’s side of the story.

I ask colleagues like Beinart if they themselves are reaching out to the non-Jewish community to promote rather than just assail Israel and call for boycotts against it. I have often witnessed that the most serious opposition to my work of reaching out to non-Jews comes often from Jews themselves who lack the confidence in their own heritage to believe that Judaism has anything constructive or refreshing to offer our non-Jewish counterparts and who believe that jumping on an anti-Israel bandwagon provides the means by which to ingratiate themselves with others. My message to them is that perhaps they should have taken an interest in Cory Booker well before he started running for the United States Senate. The time for the Jewish community to show love and friendship to our non-Jewish brothers and sisters is not when they become influential or powerful, but when they are students at universities, far away from home, simply looking for a universal home.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network, which is now launching the American Institute of Jewish values to promote universal Jewish teachings in the American media. He has recently published “The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

1 Comment

  • Very well said, rabbi, and shame on these two journos for wasting so much ink on writing about your opinions without evening bothering to read your articles or question you directly to define them.

    The fallacy of the left is that Palestinian statehood would give them justice; the truth is, that under current conditions, Hamas-istan would be the best possible outcome — an imagined homologous world of peace lovers and freedom like what is seen in the USA, a total impossibility.

    Injustice would be perpetuated by continuous bloodshed, Israel would be destroyed, and a domino of regimes would topple until Saudi Arabia, and its oil fortune, are confiscated by starving armies of Egypt or Syria.

    Modern day Israel is the tiny puzzle piece the USA must protect for its own strategic interests in preserving oil supply.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.