Republican House of Representatives candidate Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is hammering away at the ties between Democratic incumbent Bill Pascrell and a Muslim supporter who has helped Hamas.
All polls show Boteach trailing Pascrell by a significant margin, but billionaire Sheldon Adelson has injected $500,000 into the Republican challenger’s campaign chest in the contest for the re-drawn ninth District.
The focus of Rabbi Boteach’s charges is Muslim Imam Mohammed Qatanani, who was sentenced to three months in jail for his association with Hamas but who has so far resisted government attempts to deport him.
He had denied assisting Hamas, despite a signed confession to Israeli police. The federal government appealed a 2008 court ruling in Qatanani’s favor, and a hearing on the appeal is scheduled for November.
”So long as Imam Qatanani refuses to condemn his previous associations with Hamas or Hamas as an organization ... and is against the right of Jews to have any foot in Israel, he should be deported, absolutely,” Boteach was reported as saying by NewJersey.com. “That is not what the United States needs.”
“I believe in repentance,” he added. “I believe people can change. ... All he has to do is renounce Hamas.”
Pascrell wrote the immigration judge that Qatanini should not be deported and stated, “Our community would suffer a serious loss should he be required to leave.”
Qatanani has been praised by supporters as being a “moderate,” partly because he was one of the first imams to condemn the 9/11 Al Qaeda terrorist attacks.
Pascrell followed Rabbi Boteach’s charges with a statement that didn't address the issue of Hamas, a topic that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has placed in the headlines with his broad verbal attack on President Barack Obama’s foreign policies.
"Congressman Bill Pascrell has a strong record of fighting for middle-class taxpayers across northern New Jersey," his spokesman, Keith Furlong, said.
The New Jersey Jewish News reported that pollsters view the ninth district race as “competitive” although Boteach still is considered an underdog.
Rabbi Boteach has gained nationwide fame through his books, including "Kosher Sex,” “Kosher Adultery” and “Kosher Jesus," and he has called himself “America’s rabbi.”