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...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.