Thursday, May 26th | 25 Iyyar 5782

June 27, 2017 3:39 pm

Senator Booker Rightly Addresses Gun Violence in America, but Betrays Himself by Funding Iran

avatar by Shmuley Boteach


Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In a recent speech to the New Democracy Forum, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker decried the political situation in the United States as “not normal” (echoing the anti-Trump refrain, “This is not normal”).

In the speech, Senator Booker spoke about America’s lack of proper gun control and excessive methods of mass-incarceration — both of which have been issues long before the rise of Donald Trump.

“There’s shootings on blocks in America every single day,” Booker said. “There are people being murdered in our city — in our country — every single day. And we have normalized it.”

Senator Booker called, quite soundly, for background checks on weapons sales, saying that something had to be done to stop the violence in American cities. The “carnage,” he claimed, had reached a level that “belongs in war zones.”

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Booker went on to explain how people of color are being too easily incarcerated on minor drug charges, thereby sequestering their right to vote in crucial swing states such as Florida, Virginia, and Iowa — all of which ban convicted felons from voting. Many white people, he claimed, who are arrested on drug crimes don’t face felony charges. Hence, America’s minority communities are being largely disenfranchised.

These are all important issues. On a domestic level, gun violence, incarceration and disenfranchisement are serious matters that need to be addressed.

But Booker seems to ignore these issues the moment that he’s not dealing with Americans. When it comes to foreign policy, he has yet to reverse his position of supporting regimes that commit most horrific acts of violence, imprison and execute their citizens without trial and lack even the slightest trace of democracy.

In 2015, Senator Booker voted for an agreement that has given Iran $150 billion dollars and full legitimacy in the international economy — a deal that will net Iran hundreds of billions more.

Far worse, though, is the fact that when you give sums like that to a nation like Iran, you’re effectively funding the quasi terror states that exist almost entirely on the Iranian rial — horrific regimes like Assad’s Syria, Hamas-ruled Gaza, Houthi-torn Yemen, and Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon.

Iran is now aiding and abetting a genocide of Sunni Muslims in Syria via its support of the Assad regime. Those who voted to fund Iran must be aware of these serious consequences.

Senator Booker is absolutely right about the need to end the violence in Newark, Detroit and Chicago. But what about Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and Sana’a? The money given to Iran by Obama’s deal, which Senator Booker voted for and supported, has given the Iranians the ability to make the violence in those cities go on forever.

According to some estimates, Iran is providing the Assad regime with up to $20 billion dollars a year. How can you oppose violence at home and then give that much money to a country so committed to supporting one of the most violent men on Earth? And, tragically, Assad is a whole lot more dangerous than even America’s fiercest gangs.

Roughly half a million people have been killed so far in the Syrian Civil War. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, 94% of the dead were murdered by the Iran-Assad alliance — an alliance that might not be as strong if not for the immense American cash flows provided in part the Iran nuclear agreement, which Senator Booker supported.

Iran, by the way, isn’t using this money just on firearms. It is footing the bill for Assad to buy heavy artillery, develop chemical weapons and fuel the planes being used to drop combustible kegs of gasoline on civilians throughout Syria.

And since Booker is concerned with incarceration, he should know that Assad has imprisoned over 117,000 civilians since the start of the conflict six years ago. And Assad’s prisons are worse than the one that Booker mentioned on Rikers Island. Torture, starvation and summary execution are regular causes of death in Syrian prisons. And if you’ve been looking at the news, we now know that Assad has furnished at least one of his prisons with a fully-functional crematorium, which he uses to burn the bodies of his victims.

As for being disenfranchised, no one lacks democracy more than a nation who’s leader goes to war with them to avoid stepping down.

Within Iran itself, things aren’t much better. Democracy is a fallacy in a country where everything is subordinate to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who leads the country for life — while repeating calling for the wholesale extermination of six million Jews living in Israel. Violence exists in Iran as well, though it’s not gangs that the citizens fear, but their own police and government officers. Also, as Senator Booker must surely know, in Iran people are incarcerated for being critical of the regime, being members of the Bahai faith or even for being gay. Often, they’ll be murdered in prison, and even hung from cranes to intimidate the public.

Perhaps, Senator Booker, before giving this regime hundreds of billions of dollars and international legitimacy, America’s elected officials should have given them a “background check.”

I’m not here to take issue with any of the senator’s critical points about the need for a moral domestic policy that is fair, democratic and promotes peace. Gun violence is a scourge in America that must be addressed by both parties. What I am saying is that the values that Booker preaches need to be reflected in his foreign policy as well as his domestic policy — if he is to be consistent.

American money ending up supporting a regime that is the world’s leading sponsor of terror just isn’t — to put it lightly — “normal.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international bestselling author of 30 books including his most recent “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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