Booker’s Condemnation of Jersey City Shooting Not Strong Enough
Armed to the teeth, two domestic terrorists stormed a Kosher supermarket in Jersey City last Tuesday, cutting down two openly-identifying Hasidic Jews, Moshe Deutsch, 24, and Leah Minda Ferencz, 33, a mother of three. They also murdered a non-Jewish store employee, Miguel Douglas Rodriguez, in cold blood and amid a hailstorm of “hundreds” of bullets. According to investigators, the terrorists were likely targeting 50 Jewish children studying in a yeshiva next door.
A hero police officer, Joseph Seals, was murdered in the same shooting spree when he encountered the killers just before they attacked the kosher super market.
As all of this occurred, the Junior Senator from New Jersey — one of the men most informed on and most responsible for the issue of combating antisemitism in the state — was depicted touring the cornfields of Iowa.
Ever since he served as my student president at Oxford University, Cory Booker has not only had a unique and highly-publicized relationship with the Jewish community, he’s also received tens of millions of dollars in political support, making him by far one of the largest recipients of Jewish contributions in modern American political history. But all that could not persuade Cory to offer even a measure of comfort to a community in deep mourning over the Jersey City massacre. No, Cory was way too busy running for President — while polling nationally at one percent.
Let’s be clear. The Jewish victims were murdered because they were Jews. Let us also be clear that they are Cory’s constituents. Finally, let’s be clear that according to most organs of the national media Cory has no shot at making the upcoming debate or getting the nomination. So what excuse did he have to fail to comfort his constituents after a mass shooting in his state in order to pursue the limelight of a national campaign?
Just a day after the shooting, a story was released by The New York Times perversely depicting Cory and his campaign manager Matt Clapper laughing as they drove through Iowa on a campaign nobody in America still believed in. It was shocking to see New Jersey’s Senator, the day after a mass murder in his home state, laughing in an SUV with his staff. It depicted a coarsening of Cory as politician that was scarcely believable.
While Cory reportedly visited the crime scene in Jersey City, one would hardly know it. To his large social media following, he said absolutely nothing of the visit. It may seem shocking and bizarre but while Cory has condemned mass shootings all over America and called for stringent gun controls, he has barely mentioned the shooting in his own State of New Jersey at a Kosher store at all. On Instagram, he mentions nothing of a shooting in Jersey City. On Twitter and online, he’s almost just as bad.
On the day of the shooting, he tweeted only that he was “closely monitoring the situation,” which he barely described, and the statement released by his office that day didn’t even mention the word “Jew.” Apparently, this Senator with direct access to state and federal law enforcement was “monitoring the situation” — in The New York Times. Not even posting a video or an explanation, Cory retweeted a story on the shooting from the Times, adding in his typical vagueness on Jewish issues: “We won’t be silent in the face of bigotry & hate. Sending love & prayers to the victims, their families, our Jewish neighbors & the JCPD.”
Where was the word “antisemitism”?
Instead of directly condemning the antisemitism that motivated the attack — as he did in his joint-Senatorial statement that he probably knew no one would read — Cory decried only “bigotry and hate” — adopting the kind of nebulous and indistinct wording that makes the issue of antisemitism so hard to tackle. Worse, the kind of nondescript words used by Cory actually obstruct legislation that could fight antisemitism, as we saw in the House bill passed last March. Originally drafted to condemn antisemitism specifically after the disgusting words of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar about Jews and their money, it was watered-down to condemn also the hatred of “African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others.” Cory’s refusal to directly condemn Jew-hatred was in this same cowardly vein.
In stark contrast to candidate Booker, New Jersey’s other political leaders have, in their words and actions, proven their moral mettle.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a veteran of the military and a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, was quick to decry the obviously antisemitic nature of the attack. Just one day after the shooting, Fulop wrote publicly: “We shouldn’t parse words. To stop hate + anti-semitism we need to call it out QUICKLY for what it is. Some will say don’t call it anti-semitism or a hate crime till a longer review but being Jewish myself + the grandson of holocaust survivors I know enough to call it what this is.”
Senator Bob Menendez, who heroically stood against the Obama administration’s disastrous Iran deal even as Cory caved to the political pressure, followed Fulop’s lead, tweeting: “The shooting that struck #JerseyCity earlier this week was a vile act of anti-Semitism in its most despicable form.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also decried, “The growth of hate and anti-Semitism in our midst.” Even the Attorney General of New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal, who is likely inhibited from calling the attacks antisemitic pending a full investigation, clarified for the public that, “The suspects held views that reflected hatred of the Jewish people.”
All four of these political leaders joined rabbis and other religious leaders for an interfaith round table in a Jersey City synagogue, where again antisemitism was discussed. As tears were shed, prayers offered, and Jewish security discussed at this round table, Cory Booker was absent again. No doubt the corn fields of Iowa were calling.
Then again, I doubt anyone at the meeting was surprised. Just a day after the shooting, on December 11, Jersey City’s Mayor and Chief of Police met with, briefed, and offered support to the heads of the local Jewish community. Cory missed that meeting too, even though he was actually just across the Hudson River that same day for a radio interview.
Clearly the responsibilities of Senator Booker are the issues candidate Booker most prefers to avoid.
These inexcusable acts of callousness toward the Jewish community are sadly coming to define Cory’s political career as he makes every effort to ingratiate himself with the extreme left of the Democratic party.
Since becoming Senator, Cory has, in committee, opposed the Taylor Force Act, which would deny American dollars to Palestinian terrorists, voted “no” on a 2018 anti-BDS bill, condemned the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, been photographed smiling with national BDS leaders, and has been campaigning with actress Rosaria Dawson, a supporter of BDS. Most infamously, Cory was a decisive vote in favor of the Iran nuclear deal that gave the murderous Mullahs, who over the last month alone killed more than 1,000 peaceful Iranian protesters, $150 billion.
This latest snub of the Jewish community makes it clear that he is insensitive and tone-deaf to the needs of a community who are experiencing rising hatred and attacks and stood with him from the earliest days of his political career.
It is the kind of disloyalty and callousness that makes one utterly unfit to serve in national office.
I don’t doubt the beauty of Iowa, its natural landscape, and incredible people. But it’s time for Cory to come home to New Jersey and comfort his grieving constituents lest they decide that he isn’t fit to be in the Senate either.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the author of Judaism for Everyone and Renewal: The Seven Central Values of the Jewish Faith. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RabbiShmuley.