My blog posts have been sporadic lately, and I even wondered if I would continue blogging at all as it has become more of a challenge than it has been in the past. Knowing that I could not avoid blogging forever, I thought about the topic of my next post, ignoring much of the hot-button news and preferring to wait until something came along to “inspire” me.
Unfortunately, my inspiration came from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s article on The Huffington Post entitled “Obama’s Hospitality: A Question of Character.” In the article Rabbi Shmuley gives a damning critique of Obama’s handling of the Israeli Prime Minister during his recent visit.
I happen to like Rabbi Shmuley and his works. My wife and I were regular viewers of his now defunct TV reality series “Shalom in the Home.” We have bought many of his books and enjoy what he has to say, which is why I was shocked by his article and compelled to write a response.
Rabbi Shmuley opens up his piece with a provocative statement almost mocking the Seder meal to be held at the White House this year by stating:
As a Jewish American I am grateful to the President for highlighting the festival of Jewish emancipation and peoplehood. But given a choice, I would readily forgo the White House Manischewitz in exchange for an end to the bitter herbs the President is dishing out to Israel.
This statement is due to President Obama’s “treatment” of the Israel Prime Minister the Rabbi went on to explain.
Rabbi Shmuley’s piece isn’t a total loss as he does bring up some good points about hospitality and the treatment of heads of state. However, what stood out to me were his veiled reference to Obama bowing to the Saudi King, his commentary suggesting Obama is an adherent of Islam, and most importantly what he didn’t say about why the United States is currently at this juncture with Israel.
I hate to point out the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but it was Israel that embarrassed the Obama Administration first when news spread that it had plans to build more than 1600 new, illegal settlements in Jerusalem on the heels Vice President Biden’s visit almost three weeks ago. Maybe Rabbi Shmuley forgot about that incident, or maybe he just doesn’t care— considering he made clear in his article that all of Jerusalem belongs to the Jews anyway. In of itself the latter statement completely contradicts his idea that “disdainful treatment” is contrary to his beliefs and the religious beliefs of many others. The issue in Israel is a matter international justice and the adherence to the international law. Israel is occupying lands it illegally seized in 1967. Religion should never be used as an excuse to occupy, oppress, and/or force others off their land even . . . if you are Jewish.
Also, what Rabbi Shmuley carefully ignores is the Israeli Prime Minister’s disrespect of U.S. policy on U.S. soil in his tirade at an AIPAC meeting. It is disheartening that Rabbi Shmuley favors an illegal policy which at it’s core is based on the idea that one groups religious beliefs trump the international call for human rights, justice, and law. It is equally disheartening that one would disparage one’s own President for showing his disdain toward those who enact such policies.
Rabbi Shmuley makes it clear that his home may be in America, but his heart and support is with Israel’s unjust policies. What ever happened to my favorite Rabbi who gave wholesome, reasonable, and righteous advice to all?