Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the Republican candidate for Congress in New Jersey's 9th Congressional district, has challenged his Democratic rival, Bill Pascrell, to renounce his signature on the 'Gaza 54' letter that sought to bring American pressure on Israel to end Israel's legal blockade of Gaza. This is from the first link.
My objection to your stance on Israel lies, rather, in other actions with which you have been associated that are extremely troubling to the pro-Israel community. Most notably, you signed the infamous Gaza 54 letter, condemning Israel for “collective punishment” against Palestinians in the Gaza blockade. While this may not have been your intention, your participation in this cruel attack on Israel is highly injurious to the Jewish State’s ability to defend itself.I can't wait to see how Pascrell answers this one.... Heh.
As you know, Bill, Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005. I can tell you personally how painful that withdrawal was, since I visited the flourishing Jewish communities of Gush Katif in Gaza many times. Brave Jewish residents – nearly all of whom had family members or close friends killed by terrorists in Gaza – made the desert bloom, growing fruits and vegetables of the highest quality out of the desert sands, literally. They offered the hope that Gaza might be turned into a land of agricultural excellence, exporting produce to the entire world and benefiting Jew and Arab alike.
I contrast this civilized landscape with the unspeakable poverty and misery that I witnessed in Palestinian-controlled Gaza City. Not long after the 9/11 attacks, Reverend Al Sharpton came to Israel for a trip of reconciliation with the Jewish community, jointly hosted by me and Shimon Peres, Israel’s then foreign minister, to whom President Obama has just given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. While in Israel, Rev. Sharpton insisted on visiting Yasser Arafat, and though I refused to meet the man who had the blood of my people on his hands and who had stolen billions of dollars from impoverished Palestinians, I did accompany Sharpton to Gaza and witnessed the squalor that reigned in the Palestinian Authority-controlled cities, despite billions of dollars in foreign aid. The New York Times reported in 2004 that “the Palestinians are already the world’s largest per capita recipients of international aid.” But I did not witness this trickeling down to average citizens.
Regardless, Israel uprooted the Jewish communities of Gaza – including my wife’s cousins who years later are still confined to a trailer – and evacuated from Gaza completely. Their reward? Thousands of rockets from Hamas on Israeli nurseries, homes for the elderly, and buses.
Hamas, as you well know, Bill, is sworn to Israel’s destruction and to attacking Jews wherever they may be found. Its covenant is deeply racist and contains vicious genocidal aspirations, such as the following: “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realized.”
Now, given these facts, I am mystified as why you broke with close to 90 percent of Congress, voting to condemn Israel for imposing a blockade on Gaza. Surely you do not want to see Israeli children with their extremities blown off. Surely you do not want to see Hamas possessing the military capability to execute suspected Palestinian “collaborators” without trial. But without Israel stopping war materials from entering Gaza, more innocent Israelis and Palestinians will be murdered in the most gruesome way. That’s the purpose of a blockade – to stop terrorists from getting guns and bombs.
And why would you have compounded this error, Bill, by blaming Israel for collective punishment against the Palestinians? Is Israel responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians, or Hamas, which has chosen to use all of Gaza as a launching pad for a war of annihilation against Jews?
Would you really blame the victim, Bill?
The new ninth district, whose Congressman you seek to become, is different from your old tenth district. There you had a large Arab population, which continues in Paterson. No doubt you feel obligated to represent their interests, which I can completely understand. Arabs are my brothers, equal children under the one G-d. As a rabbi, I salute your constituents’ commitment to their Islamic faith. But how does supporting Hamas and condemning Israel help Arabs? On the contrary, Hamas is poison to the Palestinian cause. Palestinians need a government that will utilize the vast foreign aid flowing in to Gaza to build hospitals, roads, and universities to benefit the citizenry, not to buy rockets to kill Israelis. It is not helpful to any Arab to live under a terrorist entity that suppresses its rights. But in addition to your Arab constituents, your new district also contains very large neighborhoods of committed Jews who are deeply puzzled by your being one of the Gaza 54. You owe it to them to either explain your signature or repudiate it.
Israel is not the reason Arabs are suffering the Middle East. Rather, it is the Mubaraks, Kaddafis, Assads, and woman-hating House of Saud that are the scourge of the Arab world, as the Arab Spring has finally made clear.
I respectfully request of you, Bill, to either explain your signature on the Gaza 54 Letter, or, if it was a mistake to sign it, as I suspect you now believe, to please repudiate it. Likewise, I believe you when you tell me that Imam Qatanani is a man of peace. But that claim must be backed up by the public action of his repudiation of any ties to Hamas and his denunciation of Hamas as a terrorist group whose murderous actions are inimical to a peace-loving Islam.