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...

  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →