For New Jersey voters who place a high priority on the safety of Israel and want the U.S. government to continue its strong support for the Jewish State, there is only one choice in the 9th District race – Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
It isn’t just that Boteach is a rabbi, steeped in Jewish law and lore and is strongly pro-marriage, pro-America and pro-democracy, and it certainly isn’t that he is a world-famous author and larger-than-life personality, although he is all of that. It’s simply that despite there being a low bar set for congressmen to apply to their lapels the hecsher of “pro-Israel,” not all of them really deserve it, and Boteach’s opponent falls firmly into that category.
Boteach’s opponent, Bill Pascrell, Jr., was first elected to congress in 1996 and since then represented New Jersey’s 8th District, until it was redrawn which is why he is now facing Boteach in the 9th. It is true that during his congressional tenure Pascrell has voted each time to support aid to Israel which, in the eyes of many who professionally hold out that low bar, makes Pascrell pro-Israel.
In fact, following a recent debate between the congressional candidates after Boteach insisted his opponent’s record is not sufficiently pro-Israel, Pascrell thundered at Boteach, “you don’t preach to me about my relationship with Israel!”
Pascrell practically foamed at the mouth as he spat out, “I did the right thing [in supporting Israel]. I want Israel to have the power to protect itself. You show me one time I went against that principle or one time I didn’t vote for dollars to make Israel safer!”
But Boteach doesn’t question Pascrell’s vote for U.S. aid to Israel. “Instead,” he told The Jewish Press, “the problem is that Pascrell criticizes Israel when she uses that aid to defend herself.”
Pascrell signed the infamous Gaza 54 letter blasting Israel for what it called “collective punishment” of Gazans by blockading food and medicine — not true — and reserved a meeting space for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the Capital building.
And just recently Boteach pointed out another way in which Pascrell, despite his public vows, is tone deaf to the interests of Jews.
This September it was announced that a portion of a park located within the 9th District, in Clifton, was going to be renamed for a local resident who had recently died, Chester Grabowski. Grabowski had been the publisher of a local Polish-American weekly, the Post Eagle.
Pascrell had written an enthusiastic letter of endorsement to rename that park. But Grabowski’s Post Eagle regularly referred to Jews as “vermin,” “animals” and “Christ killers.”
Pascrell’s letter in support of honoring Grabowski stated,
I knew Chester for many years and he was a great friend. He was a kind and respected man who would help anyone in need and he was a friend to all. Chester was an individual who cared about the City of Clifton and was a strong advocate of the Polish-American community, not only in the City of Clifton, but all across the great State of New Jersey…For this, I whole heartedly support the honor of memorializing the Richard Scales Park to a resident, a businessman, and a leader in the City of Clifton, Mr. Chester Grabowski. His legacy will not only be that of a successful newspaper he operated for many years, but the family man who worked so hard for his community
And this isn’t the only hater of Jews and Israel on behalf of whom Pascrell has used his public office.
Pascrell signed an affidavit opposing the deportation of radical anti-Israel Imam Mohamad Qatanani, the Imam of one of the largest mosques in New Jersey, calling him “peace-loving” and “magnanimous.” That’s hard to square with information provided by Steve Emerson, one of the world’s leading terrorism experts.
Emerson wrote that Qatanani’s deportation case centered on the Imam’s lying on his immigration documents about having been arrested by Israel for membership in the terrorist organization Hamas. But even while in the United States, Qatanani openly displayed his hatred and contempt for Israel. He allegedly referred to the creation of Israel as “the greatest disaster which occurred on the face of the Earth,” and has called for supporting the children of homocide bombers.
It is difficult to reconcile that with the words in Pascrell’s affidavit and his 2008 description of Qatanani whom he said, “put so much time into bringing peace for all of us. Thank you imam, for all you’ve done for America since you’ve come here.”
Thank you, voters of New Jersey’s 9th, if you vote for Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to be your next congressional representative.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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