Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →