First, I would like to register my anger at the Forward, who beat me to the punch with their headline, which I was going to use: “Shmuley Boteach can’t make Robert Kennedy Jr. kosher.” My version involved a pig and lipstick, but they robbed me of the kosher thing, and for that, I shall never forgive them. Probably.
Anyway, a good friend of The Jewish Press, and a former Republican candidate for Congress, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who has been supporting RFK Jr.’s campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination as the great younger hope, this week tried to clean up the candidate’s image of a racist and an antisemite.
The candidate, a dyed-in-the-wool antivaxxer, declared earlier this month––without offering a shred of evidence––that an argument could be made that Covid-19 “is ethnically targeted” at white and Black people, while “the people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
RFK denied the NY Post report about the above comments, calling it a “mainstream media playbook to discredit me as a crank.” At a congressional hearing last Thursday, which 100 Democrats tried to block him from attending, he denied being anti-vaccine, antisemitic, and racist, saying, “These are the most appalling, disgusting pejoratives, and they’re applied to me to silence me because people don’t want me to have that conversation about the war, about groceries, about inflation.”
He added: “In my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or antisemitic. … I’ve fought more ferociously for Israel than anybody, and I am being censored here.”
Kennedy is the chairman of Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccine advocacy group that claims that American children are suffering from autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, food allergies, cancer, and autoimmune diseases as the result of their exposure to certain chemicals and radiation. In November 2021, Kennedy published a book titled “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” which included a section titled, “Final Solution: Vaccines or Bust.” And in an anti-vaccine rally in DC, he declared: “Even in Hitler’s Germany…you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.”
In other words, the antisemitic trifecta, but with a Covid twist.
OK. So, comes the event Boteach set up for him on Tuesday, and one of the first things RFK tells the good rabbi and his audience, which is all Israel-loving American Jews: “I’m very proud of the Israeli Supreme Court … I don’t want to see it dismantled. I think it is a source of pride to the world about what an independent judiciary can do.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe anyone, not even the worst enemies of Yariv Levin’s judicial reform, has suggested that he is trying to dismantle the Israeli Supreme Court. Change it radically, sure, but dismantle it? As in Israel will no longer have a judicial branch? A final solution for Israel’s judiciary?
I have no doubt many in the audience raised an eyebrow.
And then RFK uttered the familiar claim of countless antisemites: “I can criticize Israel without being an antisemite,” and with that one line questioned several definitions of antisemitism according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Ah, well, as long as some of his best friends are Jewish.
Rob Eshman, in his Forward report that robbed me of my headline, noted: “Boteach defended RFK Jr. as ‘the opposite of antisemitic.’ But I’m not sure Jews were as offended as they were just … sad. At least for Jews of a certain age, RFK Jr.’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president is not a celebration of, as he would have it, ‘the values we have in common,’ but an elegy for the values, and future, we’ve lost.”
Dems blues, my favorite muzak.
Haaretz also reported that Kennedy reiterated time and again at Boteach’s gathering that he “never said an antisemitic word” in his life and that he spent his life studying the Holocaust and Israeli history. He defended US military aid to Israel, no questions asked, while attacking some of the greatest friends of Israel in the Democratic Party, such as Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).
On Monday, RFK Jr. visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s gravesite in the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens. Col Live described the event: “Wearing a gray kippah on his head, Kennedy prayed at the Rebbe’s gravesite, a holy pilgrimage site for tens of thousands around the year.”
Question: is a goy required to wear a kippah in a Jewish cemetery?
Oh, and RFK Jr. also met with former Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who interviewed him and gave him a clean bill of no-antisemitism health on Twitter: “I had the opportunity to meet and spend some time today with Robert Kennedy Jr. to discuss a wide range of issues from antisemitism to Israel and the radical Dems. The full interview will be released tomorrow though what I can tell you is that this man is no antisemite but a friend of the Jewish people and Israel!”
STAY TUNED: I had the opportunity to meet and spend some time today with @RobertKennedyJr to discuss a wide range of issues from antisemitism to Israel and the radical Dems.
The full interview will be released tomorrow though what I can tell you is that this man is no antisemite… pic.twitter.com/uqBF7ITQMk
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) July 25, 2023