Last Friday Democratic candidate for President Robert Kennedy, Jr. Came out forcefully and unequivocally against President Biden’s new Iran deal and Biden’s plan to give the murderous Mullahs of Iran billions of dollars which they’ll use to export terrorism and slaughter their own citizens, especially women and gays.
Kennedy wrote on Twitter, “To ensure the security of Israel and, indeed, the Iranian people, Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. This is non-negotiable. It will require constant vigilance and stringent verification.
“The JCPOA is based on outdated assumptions and conditions, and is not appropriate to our time. But I will set my sights on real peace in the Mideast, including between Israel and Iran.
When I am President, we will set a new standard for international behavior. The US bears historical culpability for much of the tension in the region, which is partly the result of our regrettable history of regime change operations, coups, and support for despotic regimes in Iran and elsewhere.”
Kennedy is rapidly emerging as one of the staunchest supporters of Israel in the entire Democratic Party and is following in the footsteps of his illustrious and martyred father who was murdered in the summer of 1968 by Palestinian domestic terrorist Sirhan Sirhan because of Kennedy’s strong support of Israel. The Jewish community mourns Senator Kennedy of New York, one of the greatest Americans ever, till this day. When I marched last week with his son before 50,000 supporters of Israel and the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City, Bobby Jr. had a phalanx of security to protect him from the kind of support for the Jewish people that fell his father. Such are the times we live in and the threats not only to the Jewish nation but those who stand publicly and product with us.
These are threats that must be confronted as a tsunami of antisemitism begins to engulf the United States, including an arrest this past Saturday by the FBI of a young Michigan neo-Nazi who planned a mass murder attack against a Synagogue.
In the past few weeks, the new organization we started, JDN, the Jewish Defense Network, has had a number of great victories in the never-ending battle against antisemitism.
Let me first say when it comes to Jew-hatred, I’m fed up and I won’t take it no more. If we in the Jewish community don’t wake up to how bad it’s getting and how much worse it will get, then w we have learned nothing from history. Our head-in-the-sands mentality will affect first and foremost our children. They’re the ones who have to go to Universities where they take off their yarmulkes because they don’t want to be ostracized. They’re the ones who will refrain from attending a Yom Haatzmaut celebration or a public event supporting Israel because they don’t want to be targeted.
But we, the adults, will be next. Jew-hatred in America has gotten so bad that we ourselves will begin to believe that we there must indeed be something wrong with us to have the whole world gang up on us and hate our guts.
The other night I took my wife to a kosher restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I brought with me a small folding bike (I love cycling) in order to ride home. As we got out of the taxi, it took me a few extra minutes to get the bike out of the back. The driver became increasingly perturbed and as he drove off he actually said to us, “You’re a bunch of Jews, aren’t you.”
He did not say it kindly.
I was shocked (but not really, as this is becoming increasingly common in New York) and turned to my wife and said, “Did you see how that disgusting antisemite spoke to us?”
My wife is the proudest Jewish woman I know, sporting a large Magen David on her neck wherever she goes. But even she said to me, “But Shmuley, it did take you a long time to get the bike out.”
“Debbie,” I said, “he could have called me an insensitive jerk. He could have set ‘You’re a short ugly, hairy beast. And it would have been water off a ducks back (except for the hairy part, as I love having a beard). But what did my struggle to get the bike out of the taxi have to do with us being Jews?”
The answer, of course, is that when a community is subjected to so much hatred for so long, then even its proudest members begin to believe there must be something wrong with them.
That’s why the American Jewish community is at an inflection point. If we don’t begin to fight antisemitism with all our heart, all our might, and all our soul, we and out kids will develop a serious self-loathing, to say nothing of the actual danger to Jewish safety that antisemitism represents.
Which brings me back to the Jewish Defense Network, the newest project of the World Values Network.
We decided that antisemites have to pay for, and be exposed, for their Jew hatred. We decided it’s time to take the gloves off and go after the Jew-haters and expose their moral corruption and human deterioration.
Take for example the horrors experienced by Rabbi Leo Dee, whose family whose family experienced holocaust-level annihilation this past Passover in Israel. His wife Lucy and two daughters Maia and Rina were gunned down in cold blood by Hamas terrorists. And yet, Christiane Amanpour of CNN, in interviewing the Prime Minister of Palestine, actually said that they died not in a terror attack but in a “shootout.” I know Lucy Dee, the former Lucy Shaw, from the time she was a student at Oxford thirty years ago. Her husband, Rabbi Leo Dee, is a moral giant whom I escorted to the Knesset a few weeks after the murder as a guest of Israel’s Speaker, the openly gay Amir Ohana.
Imagine the pain of Rabbi Dee in one of the world’s most famous journalists suggesting that his wife and teenage daughters were firing back at Palestinian terrorists in a “shootout.” Together with Rabbi Dee, we requested an apology. David Zaslav, the Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery that owns CNN is an old friend, from the time I hosted a show on Discovery-TLC. We were together at Auschwitz just weeks back. Amanpour wrote a private apology but would not do it on air.
Then, three weeks back it was my father’s yahrtzeit and me and Rabbi Dee did a public event in New York City. He got up and Zoomed in from Israel at 3:30am his time. We threatened a $1.3 billion lawsuit against CNN and backed it up with legendary attorney Ben Brafman saying he would pro bono the entire case.
Less than 24 hours later Amanpour, forced into her apology, ate crow and went on international TV to publicly apologize to Rabbi Dee.
How sad she had to be forced to do the right thing.
Then, our Jewish Defense Network, which publishes five extremely well researched posts per day on the most egregious attacks against Jews in blue-chip publications daily, discovered that just days after the truly vile Jew-hater Roger Waters had dressed up like a Nazi in a concert in Germany and floated a pig with a star of David, Bobby Kennedy, the Democratic Presidential candidate, had praised waters as a man of courage.
The misunderstanding led our team to call out Kennedy, saying that his father was one of the greatest supporters of Israel in American history and was therefore assassinated by Palestinian gunman Sirhan Sirhan in 1968 at the Ambassador hotel, where my mother, of blessed memory, once worked in a bank.
To his everlasting credit, Kennedy got in touch with me and flew in for a meeting in New York. We spent hours and hours on Shabbat talking. He said he is a champion of Israel, loves the Jewish people, has always fought for Jewish rights, and had been completely misunderstood. He explained that he had heard that Waters flashed a picture of him at a concert, praising him as an iconoclast, and that Kennedy had reacted to that. He knew nothing of his antisemitism.
I believe him, because we in the Jewish community have not done enough to expose Waters and his ilk.
The next day Bobby Kennedy marched with me at the Israel Day parade carrying a huge Israeli flag for hours. He utterly repudiated Waters and his disgusting antisemitism. Kennedy told me his campaign will champion Israel’s security and the Jewish people’s ancient attachment to their homeland. Thusfar, he has more than kept his word.
What I most like about Kennedy is how you can disagree with him on other issues and he takes no offense, unlike the embarrassing partisan candidates who populate both parties.
I told him I disagree with him passionately on his vaccine skepticism and that I’m – thank God – fully vaxed. He told me that even his wife, the “Curb Your Enthusiasm Star” Cheryl Hines, disagrees with him, a fact highlighted in a New York Times profile of the actress that appeared this past Sunday. I told him that my organization, the World Values Network, last year gave our highest award at Carnegie Hall to Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer who is a child of holocaust survivors and who, arguably more than anyone else, developed the COVID-19 vaccines. Bourla is a great man who has saved millions of lives. Bobby didn’t flinch. Shmuley, that’s your right. I get it.
On and on our conversation went. Before we left each other Sunday, he told me, “Shmuley, I want you to do know, that the most important thing in my life is God. I want to serve God. And God is calling me to protect the Jewish people.” His eyes reddened as he said it and it touched me deeply.
Bobby and I spent this week speaking about a strong response to Iran and its barbaric treatment of women.
I have been writing for the New Jersey Jewish Standard for some 20 years. I have come to have the most deep-seated respect for its Editor-in-Chief Joanne Palmer. Believe me, Joanne and I have fought and tussled over the years. There is probably little we agree on. But she is a woman of unique grace, courage, dignity, with the strongest possible commitment to social justice. Joanne is an example of the power of Jewish values to mold a woman into something resembling excellence.
Just last week, I published an article that I knew could invite a lawsuit. It was about a Jewish books series that is funded by a very, very rich man, accused of monstrous crimes against women. Sure enough, I spent most of last week dealing with the fallout… and being threatened with bankrupting lawsuits. I called Joanne to tell her. She did not flinch. She is, and always has been, a true champion of woman and a great protector of their rights and dignity.
As a father of six daughters, she has my gratitude.
She disagrees with me passionately about Bobby Kennedy. She thinks his anti-vaccine stance is deeply dangerous for America.
But with Bobby Kennedy now polling at 23% of the entire Democratic field, having yet another warrior join the fight against the antisemites is vital. I welcome him and thank him for his courage. Who knows. Maybe it will take a vaccine skeptic to help develop the antidote to the world’s oldest virus.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the author of “Judaism for Everyone” and “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.