Thursday, March 08, 2018

  • Thursday, March 08, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Recently, "America's Rabbi" Shmuley Boteach engaged in a vociferous campaign against prominent American Jewish and Zionist leaders - especially Orthodox Jewish leaders - for meeting with Qatari's emir.

He wrote in November:
The first responsibility of rabbis is to know the difference between right and wrong.

The recent news report in The Jerusalem Post that a group of prominent rabbis and Jewish leaders, led by Rabbi Menachem Genack, traveled to Qatar to meet with the country’s emir is shocking and heartbreaking. Here you have Qatar, the world’s largest funder of Hamas—a terrorist organization dedicated to the annihilation of not just Israel, but Jews anywhere—being whitewashed by Orthodox rabbis. And not just any Orthodox rabbis, but the head of the Orthodox Union’s global kosher authority.

That’s pretty ironic.

You can kosher cheese and you can kosher steak. But how can you kosher the financing of terror? The first biblical rule of kosher food is that blood is not kosher (Leviticus 17:10-12).

How can rabbis in America condone the killing of Jews in Israel by meeting and legitimizing the government that pays for their murder?

A few weeks ago, I was myself invited to meet the emir by the man organizing the whitewashing effort. My organization responded with two full-page ads in The New York Times declaring, “If Qatar Wants a PR Makeover, Stop Funding Terror.” On the bottom we added the headline, “Meeting with Qatar Condones Murder.”

Why? Because this is exactly what Qatar wants—to finance the slaughter of Jews without paying a price in international diplomacy.

Who would have thought that Orthodox Jews would be at the forefront of this legitimizing effort?
I admit that the idea of these prominent Jewish American leaders visiting Qatar makes me uneasy. Qatar indeed has bankrolled Hamas and its Al Jazeera mouthpiece has been indirectly responsible for terrorism (it was unabashedly pro-Al Qaeda immediately after 9/11.)

The optics aren't great.

But I also know that people like Rabbi Menachem Genack and Malcolm Hoenlein, who visited the emir, know what they are doing politically. They are indefatigable supporters of Israel and the Jewish people. What they said or did in their meetings will not be made public, and it is of course possible that they were duped. But to dismiss and insult them as being automatically in the wrong without knowing what is going on is premature. And claiming that they condone the murder of Jews is sickening.

Rabbi Boteach has an organization called the World Values Network, and last night he hosted a very expensive and swanky dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City called the "6th Annual Champions Of Jewish Values International Awards Gala."

One of the honorees was Caitlyn Jenner.

Jenner, Boteach notes in a video on his Facebook page, has said nice things about Israel and Israel's support for the LGBTQ cause.

But there is no way to say that celebrating the LGBTQ cause is a Jewish value. It may be a secular Zionist value, but it isn't a Jewish value.

Boteach is positioning himself as the champion and arbiter of Jewish values by leading this organization and hosting these expensive fundraising dinners in the name of Jewish values.

I am not saying that there should be an ounce of discrimination against LGBTQ people. There shouldn't be. Equal rights is not up for debate. No one should look down at them. Indeed the Torah says that everyone is created in God's image and as such deserves respect. Additionally, Zionists should be proud that Israel is a bastion of liberal values in a sea of hate.

However, there is a world of difference between fighting for equal rights for all and promoting a message that is antithetical to traditional Jewish values. That is a message that Jenner represents, through no fault of [his/her] own.

Boteach has an optics problem at least as bad as those of the Jewish leaders who met the Emir. His recent actions make it appear that he is more interested in self-promotion and making money for his organzations than he is in Judaism.

These aren't the only problematic actions from Boteach recently. His recent campaign against singer Lorde also appeared to be an exercise in egoism.

How many poor people could have been fed for the price of Boteach's full page ad attacking singer Lorde for canceling her concert in Israel? Was spending that money - which accomplished nothing beyond giving Boteach more publicity - a Jewish value?

Falsely claiming that rabbis who meet with an Emir are "condoning the killing of Jews in Israel" is not a Jewish value. Celebrating a lifestyle that is explicitly against Jewish law is not a Jewish value. Raising and spending hundreds of thousands just to buy full page ads that are nothing beyond self-promotion is not a Jewish value.

It pains me to say it, but Boteach is not representing Judaism or Jewish values. He is representing himself and his own self-promotion.

Humility is a Jewish value as well. And I see none of that from "America's Rabbi."

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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