Cory Booker Condemned David Friedman While Giving Iran a Pass
Last week’s hearing on the nomination of David Friedman to be the US ambassador to Israel was intense. The Democratic senators on the Foreign Relations Committee came after him hard, quoting every controversial thing he’s ever said.
Mind you, they couldn’t seem to find one controversial thing he’s ever done, because no one disputes that David is an upstanding, decent man.
Most of all, I was upset by how harshly he was treated by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
There is a growing evolution in Cory’s position on Israel that is becoming more aligned with the left wing of the Democratic Party. I hope that Cory resists its pull.
Cory was once a steadfast friend and reliable supporter of Israel. And while I don’t question Cory’s love for the Jewish state and his commitment to its security, I do question whether he is allowing himself to succumb to pressure from those on the left who are gravitating away from it.
After years of pledging support for Israel in front of audiences of the American Jewish community — who made him the single largest recipient of pro-Israel contributions in the nation — Cory stunned many by supporting the nuclear agreement with Iran. He did this even though Iran repeatedly threatened a second holocaust of the Jewish people, and has consistently funded terrorism around the world.
Cory is also prolific on social media. It was therefore mystifying when he failed to post anything from Israel during his visit there last summer. Furthermore, many alarms also went up when Cory refused to condemn the Obama administration for abstaining on the anti-Israel resolution that was passed by the UN Security Council last December.
At the Friedman hearing, Cory’s main complaint was that David’s inflammatory rhetoric was unacceptable. He said that David’s harsh comments about J Street were wrong and that they required “atonement.”
David agreed, showed contrition and apologized.
And yet, during the Iran nuclear negotiations, Cory never once said that Iran’s vile words about Jews were abominable. Here was Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, repeatedly threatening the Jewish people with a second holocaust and calling Israel a scab and cancer that required total destruction. But although Cory called out Friedman for comments he found objectionable, he never once found Iran’s threats against Israel to be objectionable. He never once took to the Senate floor to condemn Iran for violating the 1948 UN Anti-Genocide convention by pledging the destruction of another people.
Anti-Israel organizations have mounted a campaign to derail Friedman’s nomination because of his belief that Jews have the right to live anywhere in their homeland, and that Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital, should be the site of the US Embassy. After the hearing last week, it became clear that their campaign will fail, and that David will be confirmed.
But that still doesn’t excuse senators who lambasted Friedman while giving Iran a pass.
For too long, American ambassadors have been forced to toe the line of timid State Department officials whose phobia over Arab reactions to US support for Israel have prevented the United States from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and relocating the US embassy there.
For too long, our ambassadors have seen the need to publicly criticize the democratically elected government of Israel for protecting the interests of the Israeli people.
And for too long, our ambassadors have blamed Israel for the ongoing dispute with the Palestinians rather than acknowledge that the obstacle to peace is the Palestinians’ refusal to accept the idea of a Jewish state coexisting next to a Palestinian state.
J Street has every right to its harsh opinions about Israel. But sitting in the comfort of homes 6,000 miles away may not give them the same perspective as Israelis who face threats of genocide from Hamas to the West, Hezbollah to the North and Iran to the East. J Street does not believe Jews have a legitimate claim to Judea and Samaria or the right to live in all of their homeland. The group is also out of step with Congress and mainstream Jews who support moving the US embassy and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Prodded by J Street, Friedman has been challenged about his past support for Jews in the community of Beit El. The world may villainize the families there as settlers, but in my view, they have every right to live in the land of Israel.
The Palestinians have been offered the possibility of statehood no fewer than seven times going back to 1937, and missed every opportunity because of their refusal to accept a Jewish state.
While Democrats have united in opposition to Trump’s cabinet nominations, support for Israel has always been bipartisan — because Republicans and Democrats recognize that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only reliable US ally in the region and a nation that shares American values and interests. President Obama undermined that bipartisan tradition, which is why staunch Democratic supporters of Israel like Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Robert Menendez of New Jersey had the wisdom to vote against the Iran nuclear deal.
Cory supported the deal. He had that right. But he must show consistency. If you’re going to criticize an ambassador-designate, then at least condemn the Iranian regime that has pledged death to America, and its foremost ally, Israel
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international bestselling author of 30 books including his most recent The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Facebook @RabbiShmuley.