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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Boteach, Shmuley

  • The World Values Network: Founder

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Shmuley Boteach is a “celebrity rabbi” and former “spiritual advisor” to the late pop star Michael Jackson who has been an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. A regular guest on American talk shows and an author of books such as Kosher Sex, Boteach is also known for his controversial “pro-Israel” advocacy.[1]

Boteach is the founder of The World Values Network, a group that is “based on the teachings of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and his passion for bringing universal Jewish values to mainstream American culture and beyond.”[2] The group has been financed by billionaire casino mogul and “pro-Israel” ideologue Sheldon Adelson[3], who once “pledged $1 million” to the group during a gala event[4] and claimed that Boteach is “one of the smartest guys I’ve met.”[5] Boteach also received a $500,000 Super PAC donation from Adelson during his unsuccessful 2012 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey’s ninth congressional district.[6]

An ally of 2016 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, whom Boteach calls “a phenomenal friend of Israel,”[7] Boteach has also been a staunch defender of the Trump administration, particulalry against changes of anti-Semitism. Shortly after Trump’s election, Boteach tweeted a photo of himself and chief Trump adviser Steven Bannon, the controversial former head of the alt-right news service Breitbart. He wrote: “Steve Bannon has shown great support for Israel & this administration promises to be very strong for the Jewish state.” After the sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents early in the Trump presidency, Biotech admitted that Trump “was late to condemn the rising tide of antisemitism in America” but bizarrely countered that “President Obama never once criticized Iran’s threats of annihilation against the Jewish people.

Controversial Ads

During the Obama presidency, Boteach’s World Values Network attacked the administration in controversial full-page ads in the New York Times. One such ad, which ran in the Times in February 2015, attacked President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice over her comments that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to give a speech to Congress lambasting the Iran nuclear negotiations without having first consulted the White House was “destructive” to the U.S.-Israeli relationship.[8]

“Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide,” the advertisement’s title read. It accused Rice of being “no stranger to questionable mischaracterization of facts” and of having a “pattern of callous disregard for genocide,” referencing comments Rice allegedly made about the Rwandan genocide. The ad stated: “Ms. Rice may be blind to the issue of genocide, but should treat our ally with at least as much diplomatic courtesy as she does the committed enemy of both our nations.”[9]

The ad was quickly condemned by Jewish groups from across the political spectrum, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, The Israel Project, and the liberal J Street.[10] The criticism spurred Boteach to claim that his intention was not to attack Rice, saying in a statement: “Our disagreement with Ms. Rice is strictly over policy. It was construed by some as a personal attack that is certainly and absolutely not its intent.”[11]

In November 2015, however, Boteach took out another ad in the New York Times that a former head of both the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America said “could only have drawn its inspiration from the PR skills perfected by Hitler’s propaganda chief.”[12]

The ad targeted comments Secretary of State John Kerry made about the negative effects of Israeli settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian territories. It claimed that Kerry “appears to justify the spilling of Jewish blood” and accused the Secretary of States of echoing “virulent anti-Semitic libel” in stating that the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territories could turn Israel into an apartheid state.[13]

One observer quipped: “Boteach fails to mention that this is a danger warned against by such well-known anti-Semites as David Ben-Gurion, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, and Shimon Peres, all previous Israeli prime ministers.”[14]

Anti-Liberal and Hawkish Views

Boteach is a vocal supporter of illegal Israeli settlements, writing that one of Israel’s “greatest wonders” are its settlements surrounding the Palestinian city of Hebron, which he described as located in “what the world calls the West Bank and the Bible calls Judea and Samaria.” He wrote in the same piece that the world “derisively describes” the “residents of Hebron” as “settlers.”[15]

In a May 2011 op-ed for the Huffington Post, Boteach accused President Obama of “scandalous behavior” and of “treating Israel contemptuously” for reiterating in 2011 the longstanding U.S. position of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[16] He opined in the same op-ed: “For President Obama and Secretary Clinton to treat Israel with such disdain, and handle its elected officials as if they are naughty school children, is disgusting.”[17]

Boteach was also an ardent opponent of the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute. When negotiations between Iran and six world powers resulted in a historic agreement in 2015, Boteach denounced the final deal as “a pact with an apocalyptic regime who are calling for the death of America.”[18]

During a January 2016 interview with the Jewish Chronicle Online, Boteach bemoaned that liberal students today prefer “death cults” like Hamas and “barbarous” regimes like the government in Iran.” “The world has gone mad,” he told his interviewer.[19]

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Sources

[2] The World Values Network, “About,” https://worldvalues.us/about/.

[3] Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.

[4] Katie Zezima, “How much does lunch with Sheldon Adelson cost?” The Washington Post, May 29, 2015,https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/05/29/how-much-does-lunch-with-sheldon-adelson-cost/.

[5] Katie Zezima, “How much does lunch with Sheldon Adelson cost?” The Washington Post, May 29, 2015,https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/05/29/how-much-does-lunch-with-sheldon-adelson-cost/.

[7] Betsy Woodruff, “Ted Cruz’s Favorite Rabbi,” The Daily Beast, November 29, 2015,http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/29/ted-cruz-s-favorite-rabbi.html.

[8] Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015,http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.

[9] Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015,http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.

[10] Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015,http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.

[11] Jill Jacobs, “Shmuley Boteach isn’t ‘America’s rabbi,’” The Washington Post, March 4, 2015,https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/03/04/shmuley-boteach-isnt-americas-rabbi/.

[12] Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.

[13] Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.

[14] Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.

[15] Shmuley Boteach, “A Spiritual Night in Hebron,” The Huffington Post, September 29, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/a-spiritual-night-in-hebr_b_744577.html.

[16] Shmuley Boteach, “Obama’s Bullying of Israel,” The Huffington Post, May 25, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obamas-bullying-of-israel_b_504291.html.

[17] Shmuley Boteach, “Obama’s Bullying of Israel,” The Huffington Post, May 25, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obamas-bullying-of-israel_b_504291.html.

[18] Shmuley Boteach, “Obama Compares Iran-Deal Opponents to the Mullahs,” The Huffington Post, August 12, 2015,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obama-compares-irandeal-o_b_7977136.html.

[19] Naomi Firsht, “It’s very hard to be a proud Jew here,” Jewish Chronicle Online, January 4, 2016,http://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/lifestyle-features/151852/it’s-very-hard-be-a-proud-jew-here.

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Boteach, Shmuley Résumé

Affiliations

The World Values Network: Founder
Oxford University L’Chaim Society: Founder

Government

2012 Republican Congressional Candidate

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