Two leaders of daytime television, Dr. Phil and Shalom in the Home‘s Rabbi Boteach, a Republican congressional candidate who is backed by billionaire pro-Israel advocate Sheldon Adelson.
Sheldon Adelson and wife Dr. Miriam Adelson have made their second $500,000 pledge to back Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, host of The Learning Channel’s Shalom in the Home, in his New Jersey standoff with Democrat incumbent Bill Pascrell.
Author of 23 books including the New York Times bestselling The Kosher Sutra and a frequent guest on the daytime programming circuit, Rabbi Boteach is best known for counseling relationships, often focusing on marriage life inside of the bedroom. Appearing on Dr. Phil in 2009 Rabbi Boteach recommends couples, “probe the erotic mind of their spouse. I wish that husbands would give their wives erotic interrogations. Ask them about their fantasies.”
Rabbi Shmuley with family in Hebron, in 2010. (Photo: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach)
About a month ago when Adelson dropped his first $500,000 payment into Rabbi Boteach’s SuperPAC, Phil Weiss caught onto the noticeable absence of Israel in the news coverage on the two political figures. But Rabbi Boteach is a staunch supporter of Israel’s settler movement, and Boteach himself has participated in Jewish festivities in the occupied Palestinian territories. In 2010 Rabbi Boteach attended in a settler Sukkot celebration in the West Bank city of Hebron. Recounting his experience in the Huffington Post, the religious leader and erotic advisor endorsed the unbridled expansion of Israel’s West Bank outposts and even used Nazi terminology in making his political point:
Abraham, at whose tomb I prayed with my children tonight, is the father of all peoples, Jew and Arab alike. The Arabs are my brothers, equal children of G-d in every respect. And Arabs and Jews must learn to live peacefully together in the land. Neither group should be asked to abide by a moratorium that stifles the natural expansion of either population. It is not the spiritual-seeking settlers who threaten the peace, but rather the murderous groups of Hezbollah and Hamas, who wish to make all of Israel judenrein.
The subtext of Rabbi Boteach one “spiritual night in Hebron” article is that the Republican candidate supports a “greater Israel,” or full Israeli sovereignty between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. His extremist position barks of ethnic cleansing because, in practice, the expansion of Jewish localities in occupied Palestinian land has always accompanied and expulsion of the Palestinian population. Take Hebron where the Rabbi celebrated the Jewish festival of the harvest. The streets where he danced with his children and “felt alive and utterly free of fear,” are effectively Palestinian-rein, with large portions of the city closed off to its non-Jewish inhabitants.
However last week Israel jumped from a dim backroom issue to the spotlight in a debate between Rabbi Boteach and Pascrell, New Jersey’s 9th district congressman. Boteach lambasted Pascrell for condemning Israel’s 2009 blockade of Gaza, which has pushed the coastal strip into a precious state of near humanitarian disaster. From New Jersey Online:
Boteach criticized Pascrell for signing a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to call for Israel to end a blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The letter said the blockade had prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Palestinians, which Boteach called ‘slander.’
‘Israel is a nation of the highest humanitarian principles,’ Boteach said.
Pascrell said his record on Israel was ‘very clear. In fact, some have called it perfect.’
During the debate Boteach also brought up the mid-Atlantic state’s partisan litmus test on Islamophobia, advocating to deport the Imam of New Jersey’s largest mosque based on dubious evidence that he was a member of Hamas, a case which is now being appealed in the state’s immigration court. Imam Mohammad Qatanani was arrested without charge in 1993 by Israeli authorities and placed under administrative detention for three months. However Israeli officials now contend Qatanani was charged with recruiting students into Jordanian chapters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Additionally, immigration officials also penalized Qatanani for being related through marraige to a member of Hamas who was killed by Israeli forces in 2001.
According to the New York Times Qatanani was active in the student branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a legal political party in Jordan and was never a member of Hamas. But the immigration judge who granted Qatanani his initial green card status contends the Israeli evidence is “too unreliable to prove that Mr. Qatanani has engaged in terrorist activities,” reported North Jersey in 2009.
Pascrell closed the debate on Imam Qatanani, stating “You don’t have any proof that what you say is correct.” He continued, “And I am not going to renounce anyone on hearsay.”