A prominent Arab-American supporter of Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell has attacked his opponent, Republican challenger Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, in starkly religious terms after Boteach’s super PAC, Patriot Prosperity, received $500,000 from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam. Adelson has been the target of attacks from the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party throughout the 2012 election cycle, some of which have had religious undertones. Pascrell supporter Dr. Aref Assaf (above), president of the American Arab Forum, has taken that further, declaring that Boteach had “sold his soul” and accusing him of “Islamophobia.”
The explicitly religious nature of Dr. Assaf’s attack mocks Boteach’s Jewish faith, and his profile as one of the country’s best-known rabbis–ironically, while using an unsubstantiated charge of anti-Muslim prejudice. The sole basis for Dr. Assaf’s claim about “Islamophobia” appears to be that Adelson and Boteach both support Israel, whereas Pascrell has joined the small minority of strident critics of Israel in the U.S. Congress.
Dr. Assaf backed Rep. Pascrell in his primary fight against 9th District incumbent Rep. Steve Rothman, a pro-Israel Democrat who was forced to run against 8th District incumbent Pascrell after the state’s congressional districts were redrawn. One of the positive factors Dr. Assaf cited was Pascrell’s support for the radical Imam Mohammad Qatanani–whom, Joel Mowbray reported in June, “the federal government is attempting to deport [to Jordan] for failing to disclose his arrest and subsequent conviction in Israel for supporting Hamas.”
Pro-Israel groups rallied around Rothman in the primary, but some are quietly attempting to mend fences with Pascrell, fearful that Boteach will not win in a heavily Democratic district. Boteach, for his part, disagrees. He released a statement today condemning Dr. Assaf’s remarks, and calling upon Pascrell to disavow them:
It was bad enough when Aref Assaf lobbed the anti-Semitic charge of ‘dual loyalties’ at Democratic Congressman Steve Rothman. Much worse, amid purporting to be an Arab leader he trivialized the murder of innocent Arab children in Syria by Bashar Assad. Now Aref Assaf maligns Sheldon Adelson. I am not surprised. Assaf has a virulent hatred of Israel and Adelson is among the biggest donors to Israel in world history. It is imperative that my opponent, Bill Pascrell, do the moral thing and denounce the Jew-hatred of Assaf. Assaf has been one of Pascrell’s most ardent supporters and fundraisers. Arabs are my brothers and I have deep reverence for Islam. Islamic leaders should do the right thing and immediately distance themselves from the crude bigotry of Assaf.
Breitbart News attempted to obtain comment from Pascrell’s campaign; no response has yet been received.