Rabbi Shmuley Boteach took out a controversial full-page ad in Sunday’s Washington Post attacking Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar on the opening day of the AIPAC Policy Conference, days before he is set to host top White House officials at a Carnegie Hall fundraising gala.
Boteach’s ad directly compared some of the freshman congresswoman’s words and tweets with anti-Semitic quotes from “The International Jew,” “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and “The White Man’s Bible.”
The rabbi proudly took his ad to the AIPAC conference on the day it was published, waving it in front of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in front of the Washington Convention Center as they chanted “Shame on you!” at him.
Confronting the AIPAC protesters, Boteach called out “Louder, louder” when those around him began to chant “Shame on You!” He added that he was “proud to call out anti-Semitism.”
The Washington Post ad was widely denounced on the left, with Omar’s fellow Muslim congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, charging that it was “fearmongering” that would “incite violence.”
The ad infuriated pro-peace and pro-Palestinian advocacy groups, and many took to Twitter in protest.
Omar herself, meanwhile, was fundraising and sparking protests of her own at the same time, travelling to Los Angeles to address the Council of American Islamic Relationship (CAIR) at a fundraising event at the Woodland Hills Hilton on Saturday night.
More than 1,000 protesters greeted the Muslim congresswoman as she arrived for the event, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, “creating a sea of American and Israeli flags along Canoga Avenue and picket signs with messages the likes of of ‘Your hate makes us stronger,’ on Omar’s face covered by a swastika.”
Indirectly addressing the criticism over her remarks about Israel, Omar said in her speech: “People say ‘Ilhan, why are you always talking about this particular country and not that particular country?’ My choice of country to talk about is not based on my preference of country. It is based on what country is violating basic human rights. So it doesn’t matter if that country is being run by my father, my brother. my sister, I will still criticize that country. … We must also hold those that we love, that have shared values with, accountable.”
Acknowledging the protesters, she said with an amused smile: “There are very fascinating people outside who for so many years have spoken about an Islam that is oppressive, that lessens and isolates women. And today they gather outside to protest a Muslim woman who is in Congress. The irony of that is very entertaining to me.”
Democratic House Majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer addressed the Omar controversy Sunday at the AIPAC conference, without mentioning the freshman congresswoman by name saying that she and other critics of Israel were not representative of the Democratic Party.
“When someone accuses American supporters of dual loyalty I say accuse me,” Hoyer said to cheers, insisting that the “overwhelming majority” in Congress continues to support Israel. “Let’s have debates on policy instead of impugning the loyalty of Israel’s supporters,” he said.
Meanwhile, New York’s Carnegie Hall will host the Seventh Annual Champions of Jewish Values Awards gala for Boteach’s one-man charity the World Values Network on Thursday night.
Guests will get the opportunity to rub shoulders with senior White House officials in the central event for his organization. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and Director of of the United States Economic Council Larry Kudlow are all listed as honorees. Billed as the event’s “special guests and presenters”: Actor Jon Voight, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and television physician Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Although the official website does not list ticket prices, the same event in past years has cost $500 per ticket, with tables going for as much as $100,000.
The chief honoree at the event is Marion Wiesel, widow of author Elie Wiesel, who will receive the “Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Light of the Jewish People Award.”
The Adelsons — Republican megadonors and key Trump supporters — are longtime patrons of Boteach’s, opening the door for the controversial rabbi to have unusual access to senior White House figures. In 2017, he famously posted a photograph with then-chief strategist Steve Bannon, in which he unwittingly revealed to the world Bannon’s policy goals, written on a whiteboard in the background.
An author and reality show performer who bills himself as “America’s rabbi,” Boteach is best known for his close relationships with celebrities like the late Michael Jackson and actress-comedian Roseanne Barr.
The Adelsons are frequently featured and honored at Boteach’s events. He has also been supported by and “partnered” with billionaire philanthropist and Birthright founder Michael Steinhardt, who is currently embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal.
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