Message to the Orthodox Union: Blood Is Never Kosher
America is having another bad week.
On Sunday, yet another mass shooting struck the United States, this time in a house of worship where 26 of the faithful were shot as they crawled out from behind their pews. Then we watched as the Middle East teetered ever closer to the brink, with political waves rocking Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Lebanon. Then came the release of the “Paradise Papers” by The New York Times, with yet more blatant financial corruption laid bare for all to see. This, all in addition to the endless scandals that plague our political and cultural spheres.
One would expect that in such times as these, rabbis and other religious leaders would stand tall as beacons of hope and moral clarity within which our hearts could find some much needed refuge.
Yet on Monday, The Jerusalem Post reported that a coalition of prominent rabbis led by Rabbi Menachem Genack of Englewood, New Jersey had traveled to Qatar to meet with its emir.
Qatar isn’t any Arab state. It’s the world’s number one funder of Hamas, an organization dedicated not only to the annihilation of Israel, but to the murder of all Jews — “wheresoever they may be found,” to quote Hamas’ founding charter.
In 2012, the nation of Qatar pledged four hundred million dollars to the terror group. Apparently pleased to see Hamas had used this money to launch over 5,000 rockets against Israeli civilians, Qatar would ratchet up its commitment by promising another billion dollars to the blood-thirsty leadership of Gaza in 2014.
As if their antisemitism couldn’t be more clear, Qatar hosts not just the Hamas leadership, but the man who may be described as the world’s foremost Jew hater: Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Worse than denying the Holocaust, Qaradawi has praised Hitler for his slaughter of European Jews and prayed that Allah help him finish the job. “Oh Allah,” he cried in a sermon, “take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people…count their numbers, and kill them down to the very last one!” The nation of Qatar didn’t just tolerate that kind of genocidal hate-speech, it actually broadcast it on its own Al Jazeera network.
Moreover, Rabbi Genack, whom I consider a friend, isn’t just any American rabbi. He’s one of America’s most prominent Orthodox Jewish voices, known for his close friendship with former President Bill Clinton. And just to make these efforts to kosher Qatar (intentionally or not) even more ironic, Rabbi Genack is actually the head of the Orthodox Union’s global kosher authority.
The man responsible for the koshering of crackers, cheese and steaks has now been brought in to “kosher” the emir of Qatar who finances tunnels meant to kidnap Jewish children from southern kibbutzim; to “kosher” Qatar’s funding of rockets meant to dismember elderly men and women who can’t run fast enough toward the nearest shelter; to “kosher” Qatar’s financing of the murder of sixty-seven soldiers and six Israeli civilians during Operation Protective Edge.
But the Bible is clear: Blood can never be kosher (Leviticus 17:13-14).
A few weeks ago, I was myself invited to meet the emir by the man organizing the whitewashing effort. Our organization, The World Values Network, responded with two full-page ads in The New York Times declaring “If Qatar Wants a PR Makeover, Stop Funding Terror.” On the bottom of the ad, we added the headline: “Meeting with Qatar Condones Murder.”
Why? Because Qatar is only hiring Jewish PR agencies and arranging meetings with American Jews in order to prove its legitimacy. After all, it could now tell the American people and the rest of the world: “How bad could we be? Look how many rabbis and Jewish leaders have come to meet with us.” And thus, it gets to fund the murder of Jews without paying a price. Enabling a Qatari makeover allows it to get away with murder.
Qatar can repent. If the emir wants to be brought back into the community of nations, all he needs to do is announce the immediate cessation of all funding of Hamas. He should immediately expel Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and Hamas terror masterminds Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal. And he should stop the daily demonization of Israel that takes place on Al Jazeera, a veritable glut of antisemitic poison designed to make the world hate the Jewish state. But until such steps are taken, Qatar cannot be allowed to whitewash its crimes.
This is not the first time Rabbi Genack and I have clashed over Israel. When my close friend, Senator Cory Booker, whom I introduced to Rabbi Genack at my home, shocked and shattered American Jewish hearts by voting for the Iran nuclear deal despite the rogue state’s daily threats of a second Holocaust of the Jews, Rabbi Genack was one of the Jewish leaders who worked to protect Cory’s reputation among American Jews and help him hold on to his quickly vanishing Jewish support.
This led to serious pain in my relationship with Rabbi Genack. It was just beginning to heal when I suddenly saw this shocking story about Qatar.
I do not doubt that Rabbi Genack is a very good man, a great scholar and utterly dedicated to the welfare of the Jewish people. No doubt in his mind he believes that he can change the emir. But far more likely is that Qatar is using him to show it’s kosher, and Rabbi Genack should judge the Qatari government by its actions, not its hospitality. Respectfully, we owe it to all the Jews that have been murdered by Hamas to never allow its paymasters off the hook.
The Orthodox Union put out a puzzling statement that “Rabbi Genack is traveling [to Qatar] in his personal capacity as a private individual and this trip is not under the auspices of the OU.”
But you cannot have a top executive of the most important Orthodox Jewish organization in the United States playing global diplomat with terror financiers noted for their hatred of Jews. So long as he occupies one of the OU’s most senior positions, Genack’s actions will reflect on the organization itself.
The concept of kosher is more than just an examination of body parts and mixing milk and meat. It communicates a vital idea of taking something as mundane as meat and elevating it into the realm of holiness. It conveys the human capacity to live a sacred life in accordance with God’s will.
The OU cannot — dare not — allow any of its executives to kosher and legitimize countries like Qatar. Only the emir himself can do that, by immediately ceasing all funding of terror against Jews.
Until then, let us not forget, blood is never kosher.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of 31 books, most recently “The Israel Warrior.” The winner of the London Times Preacher of the Year Award, he has been called by Newsweek “the most famous Rabbi in America” and named by The Jerusalem Post as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.