Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Must Apologize to America on the Fourth of July

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach calls himself America's Rabbi and is noted as by Newsweek as the sixth most influential rabbi in America. The rabbi is full of moral advice for everybody of note from celebrities like the late Michael Jackson and Britney Spears to politicians and to pundits like Tom Friedman of the New York Times in the case in point.

Boteach has just now mounted one of his highest horses to preach to Friedman about Israel. He demands that Tom apologize for making comments critical of Israeli actions and policies. He call Friedman's recent article ("War, Timeout, War, Time ...") a slander and a "blood libel" against Israel -- quite an terrible accusation if you understand Jewish history.

Boteach's accusations against Friedman are way off base. Tom is a great friend of Israel, a supporter of Zionism, a graduate of the Minneapolis Talmud Torah and a fine, upstanding and proud Jew.

He needs to apologize for nothing. He has not slandered Israel or done anything untoward. He expressed an opinion on the editorial page of the Times. Rabbi Boteach apparently does not understand what slander is. It's hard to convince us that an essay heavy in rhetoric and labeled opinion can ever be mistaken for an act of slander.

Be that as it may, in the refutation of Friedman, the rabbi first appears to say that Israel did not perform wrong acts, but even if they did kill civilians, it's meager compared to what the US did in its wars.

So on this patriotic weekend, wherein we celebrate the great nation of America, Rabbi Boteach decided to go off on a tirade including this:
Want to talk about brutal? In Operation Gomorrah of July 1943, the U.S. Air Force and Britain's Royal Air Force carpet-bombed Hamburg, killing some 50,000 civilians and practically destroying the entire city. The bombing created a whirling updraft of super-heated air, bringing about a 1,500-foot-high tornado of fire that incinerated thousands of civilian noncombatants.

In February 1945, when Hitler and Germany were headed to certain defeat, the U.S. Air Force and the RAF sent 1,300 heavy bombers over Dresden, dropping 3,900 tons of high explosives that destroyed nearly the entire city center and killed approximately 250,000 civilians. Six months later, on Aug. 6 and 9, President Truman ordered the atomic destruction of two Japanese cities, killing 90,000 to 166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000 to 80,000 in Nagasaki.
This course of action was praiseworthy for our leaders to follow, according to Boteach because, "...they had to make a terrible choice between the lives of their own countrymen and those of the civilians of enemies sworn to the destruction of Western democracy."

Now, we don't think you can slander in an op-ed. But you sure can act in bad taste. And to rub in our American faces the accusation, "Want to talk about brutal?" and to rehearse the mass civilian slaughter that came about by US actions, and to do this on our most patriotic holiday, that is truly tasteless, a breach of good manners, a travesty of civics and an all-around a badly timed and poorly executed act.

America demands an apology from America's titular rabbi.

[PS: We could easily argue that Israel benefits when it is accused of brutality. That sort of reputation intimidates Israel's enemies. And the IDF ought to thank Friedman for bolstering their tough reputation. So we don't follow any part of the Rabbi's thinking.] [Hat to to David S.]

1 comment:

Richard said...

Not to come to the defense of the Rabbi here, but there is often a double standard when it comes to violence and Israel. Over the last sixty years the US has been far more violent in its reactions to military threats than Israel could ever hope to be. Imagine for a minute what would happen to Mexico if they were caught lobbing Katusha rockets into Texas. I am sure that the US would refrain its reaction to a "measured" use of force. We had one incident - 911 - in fifty years, for that we invaded two countries and killed over two hundred thousand civilians - and caused millions of refugees. And one of the countries had nothing to do with the actual act. Israel on the other hand has been living a continuous 911 for sixty years.