The Hill: ‘America’s Rabbi’ Shmuley Boteach Rises to Defend Steve Bannon

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach writes an open letter to Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, to defend former Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon against accusations of anti-Semitism — which erupted after president-elect Donald Trump announced that Bannon would serve as White House Chief Strategist.

From The Hill:

You recently attacked Bannon’s appointment as senior adviser to the president, saying, “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.’” Your comment was widely — though perhaps unfairly — interpreted as accusing Bannon of anti-Semitism.

I barely know Mr. Bannon, having met him for the first time last week at The New York Hilton. But I do know Joel Pollak, an orthodox Jew who is my friend of many years and is a senior editor at Breitbart. Joel is one of the proudest Jews I know and one of the premier fighters for Israel in the national media.

He tells me that Steve Bannon has shown him, and the many other Jewish employees at Breitbart, especially those who are observant, incredible sensitivity and flexibility in helping them always keep the Sabbath and observe the Jewish holidays.

In addition, Breitbart has served as one of the leading publications in The United States that strongly opposed the Iran nuclear agreement, with its $150 billion given to the murderous Mullahs and their genocidal promise to perpetrate a second holocaust of the Jewish people.

I know this is close to both our hearts. Your wife was forced to flee the bloodthirsty Khomeini regime as a teenager. My father and his family were lucky to leave Iran well before Khomeini came to power.

In light of this fact, why would you immediately assume that Breitbart is anti-Semitic? Some of the world’s leading publications — including The New York Times — extolled the virtues of the Iran deal even though it never even punished the Iranian regime for being in constant violation of the 1948 UN Anti-Genocide Convention which expressly forbids genocidal incitement.

Even the ADL opposed the Iran deal and Breitbart stood with the pro-Israel community in making the argument against an agreement that legally gives Iran nuclear weapons in little over a decade.

Breitbart also defends Israel constantly against the anti-Semitic BDS movement whose goal is the economic destruction of the State of Israel.

That does not mean that we need agree with everything published on Breitbart or that there will not be columns we find offensive.

I write for many publications, some more on the left, like The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post, some considered in the middle like CNN, The Washington Post, and The Hill, and some more to the right like The Wall Street Journal and Breitbart. I also write for Israel-based publications like The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel, with their differing editorial slants. In all those publications there are those with whom I agree and disagree with strongly.

I have published hundreds of columns in The Huffington Post and consider Arianna Huffington a personal friend. I can tell you that I shared the home page many times with people who vilified Israel in pretty extreme terms. I never took offense. And I certainly never called the editors there anti-Semitic. Rather, I saw the attacks on Israel as an opportunity to respond intelligently and forcefully.

The Jewish people, as you and I can both agree, face a new era of increased anti-Semitism, especially among Islamist governments and increasingly in Europe. We have real enemies who need to be combatted. Israel especially faces three emboldened, genocidal enemies: Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. Breitbart columnists have stood strongly against all three.

Read the rest of the letter here.


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