President Obama’s re-election campaign announced last week the launch of “Rabbis for Obama,” an initiative aimed at rallying Jewish support for the president in the upcoming elections.
What has recently come to light, however, is that the list of over 600 rabbis, many of whom are Reform, Conservative and female and would thus not be considered as such by the Orthodox community, also includes many unabashedly anti-Israel figures, who align themselves with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state.
Lynn Gottlieb, for example, has met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and sits on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an organization that has been listed as one of the “Top Ten Anti-Israel groups” by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
According to the ADL, JVP “…calls for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, accuses Israel of ‘apartheid’ policies, and supports divestment campaigns against Israel. Like other Jewish anti-Zionist groups, JVP uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism and provide a greater degree of credibility to the anti-Israel movement…. JVP activists regularly attend anti-Israel events wearing T-shirts and holding signs proudly broadcasting their Jewish identity. In March-April 2010, leaders of JVP unsuccessfully lobbied for the passage of a divestment resolution at the University of California, Berkeley, targeting companies that do business with Israel.”
Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), Matt Brooks, said in a statement that “there can only be two explanations for her inclusion in the list: 1) the Obama campaign failed to properly vet the rabbis on their official list, or 2) they did properly vet the rabbis and chose to ignore... Gottlieb’s radical views.”
“This speaks volumes about the Obama campaign’s judgment and the RJC calls on the Obama campaign to immediately remove her from any formal or official involvement in the campaign,” Brooks said.
Another name on the list, Chava Bahle, is a member of “14 Friends of Palestine,” an organization that advocated condemning Israel for the Gaza flotilla incident in 2010 and falsely accuses Israel of preventing food and medical supplies from reaching Gaza.
In his book, “Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi's Path to Palestinian Solidarity,” Brant Rosen, a clergyman who is also listed among Obama’s supporters, wrote a wholly biased and inaccurate description of Operation Cast Lead, in which he portrays Israel as the undeniable oppressor, aggressor and pariah. Rosen is also a member of the BDS movement.
Another name on the list, Aruthur Waskow, is associated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that is also on the ADL’s most anti-Israel group list.
The above are merely a few of the many anti-Israel figures whose names appear on the list.
At the time “Rabbis for Obama” was announced, Ira Forman, Jewish outreach director for the campaign, issued a statement saying, “These rabbis mirror the diversity of American Jewry. Their ringing endorsement of President Obama speaks volumes about the President’s deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel and his dedication to a policy agenda that represents the values of the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community."
Chairman of the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), William Kristol, wrote a letter to President Obama calling on the administration to repudiate such anti-Israel figures.
“Far from demonstrating a ‘deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel,’ these figures have demonstrated a deep hostility to the state of Israel and a deep commitment to demonizing the Jewish state and undermining the U.S.-Israel alliance,” Kristol wrote. “We are sure that you will be distressed to discover that your own campaign has included so many of them on the list of ‘Rabbis for Obama.’ We cannot imagine their endorsements are ones you welcome.”
“This is, as you have pointed out, a particularly perilous time for the people of Israel. We trust you do not want, however inadvertently, to signal in any way a lack of commitment to Israel’s security or a lack of concern for Israel’s well-being. So we look forward to your repudiation of the anti-Israel figures among the “Rabbis for Obama.” And we respectfully suggest that you have an urgent and serious conversation with whoever in your campaign thought it appropriate to trumpet their support as a way of making your case to the pro-Israel community.” Kristol added.