Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is no stranger to controversy, but did he go too far with his New York Times ad accusing Susan Rice of having a “blind spot” for genocide?
Many Jewish groups—and the White House—say he did.
CNN reported on Sunday that the Anti-Defamation League called the ad “perverse and incendiary.” A senior administration official at the White House said, “This ad is being widely met with the revulsion that it deserves. Frankly, the ad says more about those who supported it than it says about Susan Rice.”
Rabbi Boteach appeared on CNN to defend the ad.
When anchor Poppy Harlow pointedly asked Boteach if he thought the ad was constructive, he launched into a speech on the administration’s Iran negotiations. Harlow quickly cut him off, saying “I’d like you to answer my question.”
Boteach said the ad addressed Susan Rice’s claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday could “destroy the fabric of the America-Israel relationship.”
“If the national security adviser of the United States of American has an issue with the leader of a nation who experienced the genocide simply defending his nation that has to be responded to,” he said.
In an ironic twist, the rabbi said, “Now we all have a blind spot when it comes to genocide.”
Harlow detailed Jewish groups’ responses to the ad as “revolting”, “spurious and perverse”, and “outrageous” and asked Boteach what he hoped the ad would accomplish.
Boteach said U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power wrote in her book that “Susan Rice in 1994 refused to label the Rwandan genocide a genocide for partisan political purposes.” Power published a book titled “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” in 2013.
“Therefore Susan Rice…should go out of her way to be extra sensitive to…genocide…
“We have to raise consciousness in America to the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents that takes place around the world.”
He accused Rice of “a form of bullying” for condemning Netanyahu’s speech.
Jewish organizations criticized the ad on Twitter.
Shmuley Boteach’s NYT ad was way over the top. Agree or not w/@AmbassadorRice, to accuse her of seeking genocide against Israel is revolting
— AJC (@AJCGlobal) February 28, 2015
Foxman on Boteach ad: No room for “incendiary personal attack” – “It is not only an ugly distraction from the real issue, it is reckless.”
— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) March 1, 2015
Democrat lawmakers also chimed in. (H/T Twitchy)
Appalled by the defamatory ad in NYT, which is an insult to Susan Rice’s commitment to human rights & the security of Israel — Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 1, 2015
Not everyone was dismayed, however.
Best known as a spiritual mentor to Michael Jackson, Boteach–whose monikers include “Rabbi Shmuley” and “America’s rabbi”– has authored over 30 books, including the best seller “Kosher Jesus.”