by Jim Lobe
For a rather slow Thanksgiving weekend, must reading should include an article on The Nation website by Henry Siegman, a former head of both the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America. The article assails a full-page ad that appeared in The New York Times on November 14 featuring Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whose operations are funded in major part by Sheldon Adelson. In the ad, Boteach accuses John Kerry of anti-Semitism because of the secretary of state’s recent suggestion that the expansion of Jewish settlements may have some responsibility for the continuing attacks by Palestinians on Israelis and may eventually lead to an apartheid situation.
Siegman, who is currently president of the U.S./Middle East Project and who previously led the Middle Eastern Studies program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), doesn’t pull many punches. Here’s the concluding passage:
Boteach argues that there cannot be moral equivalence between victims and their oppressors, but he, like his patron, believes Palestinians who have lived for half a century under Israel’s occupation are the oppressors and their Israeli occupiers are their victims. As someone who was born in Germany and lived for two years under Nazi occupation and the Vichy regime that rounded up Jews for deportation to Auschwitz, I can assure Boteach, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, that their perspective is one that Goebbels, who considered the German people to have been the victims of the Jews, would have greatly admired.
It’s worth noting that Elliott Abrams, who became a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR after his disastrous tenure as George W. Bush’s chief Middle East aide on the National Security Council staff, helped lay the groundwork for Boteach’s attack on Kerry. In an October 14 blog post published on the CFR website, Abrams called Kerry’s remarks on the relationship between settlement growth and Palestinian attacks on Israelis “morally obtuse and “factually wrong.”
In a more recent article about the Paris attacks published in The Weekly Standard, Abrams repeats those charges and all but calls Kerry an anti-Semite. Presumably, Abrams decided against tipping over the edge, perhaps as a result of the public reprimand CFR President Richard Haass gave him after he called former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel an anti-Semite.
Abrams has long claimed that the Obama administration has greatly exaggerated settlement growth, a position that would seem very difficult to reconcile with the findings of Israel’s own Central Bureau of Statistics.
In any event, Siegman’s article makes the situation quite clear.
Photo: Shmuley Boteach