Graham on Israel

Graham on Israel

South Carolina’s senator to speak at Temple Emanu-El

Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Lindsey Graham

We are entirely used to having big-name politicians come to Bergen County to talk about Israel.

There are many big-name politicians who are fervent supporters of Israel.

But somehow, although Lindsey Graham, the Republican who is South Carolina’s senior U.S. senator, is among those fervent supporters, it seems surprising that he is joining the ranks of those local speakers. That’s because he’s been much in the news recently; he’s a senior Republican, a good friend of Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who’s opposed President Donald Trump on health care and now is battling brain cancer, and not press-averse himself when it comes to health care, the budget, DACA, white supremicism, and other prominent issues.

But, as it turns out, Mr. Graham is a longtime and stalwart supporter of Israel, and so he will be talking about Israel at Temple Emanu-El of Closter at Shabbat services on September 16.

“I think that we would be hard-pressed to find a more outspoken and unwavering supporter of the state of Israel than Lindsey Graham,” Emanu-El’s Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent — people who love Israel love Lindsey Graham.

“I don’t know why that is,” the rabbi continued. “I don’t know if it has to do with Christian faith or his personal values, but I do know that he has been to Israel countless times. Literally hundreds of times. He has a deep connection with the Israeli people, the mission of the state of Israel, and the safety of the state of Israel. And he also is aware of the protection that the state of Israel offers the United States.

“Also,” Rabbi Kirshner continued, “he is a nice man. He is an affable man. There is nothing intimidating about his presence. He is very engaging. When you talk to him, he is talking just to you.”

Arthur Sinesky is a former president of Emanu-El, and he still sits on its board. He was instrumental in getting Mr. Graham to Closter. “As you know, Senator Graham is a leader in the Senate when it comes to foreign affairs, and he has been a very strong advocate for the relationship between the United States and Israel,” Mr. Sinesky said. “And we have a diverse congregation, with many points of view, so it is very interesting to hear all these perspectives.

“I’m not sure what the senator’s objective is, but he is very open to getting out and speaking around the country. I don’t know what his future aspirations are, but given that he has been a presidential candidate” — he was a contender in the 2016 primaries, although he did not get particularly far — “I guess he would like to widen his exposure.”

Although Mr. Graham will be at Emanu-El to talk about Israel, a question and answer period at the kiddush quite likely will follow his talk, given during Shabbat services. And given how often Mr. Graham’s name has come up in other contexts, he might end up fielding some questions about those areas as well. “I don’t know if he will talk about anything else in his prepared remarks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he fields a question about other subjects later,” Mr. Sinesky said.

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