Boteach naïve about Barr

I was very disappointed to read the astonishing naivete existing in Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s column in the February 1 issue of the Jewish Standard, called “The deafening silence on Israel from Hollywood’s Jews.”

Specifically, I was dumbfounded to read Boteach’s incredible and one-sided defense of Roseanne Barr, the controversial Jewish former TV star.

Boteach writes, “Roseanne has consistently stood up for Israel when almost no one else in Hollywood has.”


We know that Rabbi Boteach is somewhat star-struck and likes to write a “must-read” type column; however he should not stoop to the level of ignoring facts that challenge his narrative (building up or restoring Barr’s reputation ) while turning a blind eye to her nauseating history of insidious, uncalled-for, mean-spirited insults levied at Israel and the Jewish people.

In the past, Ms. Barr, through her tweets and other media, has likened Zionists seeking to build a Jewish state to Nazis (2013). Barr also famously tweeted (in May 2018) a gross disparagement of Jewish philanthropist George Soros, opining he was not only a Nazi but even betrayed other Jews to the Nazis during the Holocaust. (And those false comments reportedly were made in Barr’s same infamous and career-breaking tweet that also contained Barr’s vicious racial attacks on former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.)

I must believe that Rabbi Boteach is aware of Barr’s many anti-Israel and anti-Semitic acts and rants. However, he chooses to ignore those for the sake of his pressing need to build a sympathetic view of Barr. I understand that Roseanne has tried to distance herself from her past anti-Semitic remarks — but let the buyer beware. What might her next self-transformation reveal about this woman?

As a journalist supposedly striving for some level of objectivity, Boteach’s decision to completely fail to mention Ms. Barr’s history of deplorable anti-Semitic remarks is not only mind-boggling, but is a shameful attempt to whitewash a situation for his own purposes, rather than provide accurate reporting.

Finally, about Ms. Barr, I remember my father used to say, “as Jews we already have enough enemies, we don’t have to provide them ourselves. “ He was right!

Sam Z. Mallin, Esq.

We should worry about this now?

Let me get this straight: anti-Semitism is resurgent in Europe, in various U.S. media forums, and especially on U.S. college campuses, indoctrinating future generations of voters; Islamists now are elected to sit in Congress; progressives agitate against Israel and for the West Bank to be turned into another Gaza — and what issue of the day grabs the focus of our rabbinic leaders? Women serving as rabbis and lay leaders?! (“On the outs over an intern,” February 8.) One would like to think perhaps that the Jewish diaspora has, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, developed some semblance of survival skills. Not. Sad indeed!

Steven Gilbert

Rothman should attack Democrats

Former Congressman Steven Rothman’s op ed, “Political parties and Israel: Spread the blame evenly” (February 8), only adds to the partisan cacophony prevalent in our times. Rothman implies that the hateful and blatantly anti-Semitic/ anti-Israel views of Rashida Tlaib (D) of Michigan and Ilhan Omar (D) of Minnesota are not equivalent to the consistent but single-minded isolationist ideology of Rand Paul and his accolade in the House, Justin Amash (R) of Michigan. While I disagree with both Paul and Amash and their unwise views, neither have a record that proves them to be haters of Jews or Israel.

Rothman excuses Tlaib and Omar on the disingenuous grounds that the two freshman, in a House of 235 Democrats, do not speak for the party. But Mr. Rothman forgets his history and should be reminded how in the 1950s a Republican freshman senator, Joseph McCarthy, turned this country upside down with fear and terror. Tlaib, Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who recently tweeted about her “lovely and wide-reaching conversation with British Labor Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn,” who is a militant anti-Zionist and clear anti-Semite) have been provided a stage from which they spew hateful and ignorant views. The three have the power to damage democracy and destroy more lives than McCarthy did in his day. Unconstrained as they have been, they are perceived to speak for the party.

The former Congressman complains of criticism primarily coming from Republican sources, criticism that he claims makes him want to plotz. Surely we hope he does not. Mr. Rothman, rather than plotzing, wouldn’t it be more courageous and useful to discourage the views of these people who drag the Democrat party down? Unfortunately, Mr. Rothman would rather take a partisan stance, like a number of presidential hopefuls who have positioned themselves to benefit from the popularity of these fresh new demagogues. He would rather take Paul to task for his February 5th “Nay” vote against the Anti-BDS Act of 2019 (the only Republican Nay) than to criticize anti-Israel progressives. Happily, the Senate passed the Marco Rubio-sponsored bill, 77-23. Twenty-two Democratic Senators, including presidential hopefuls Booker, Warren, Gillibrand, and Harris voted against the pro-Israel anti-BDS bill. Rothman makes no mention of the many powerful and outspoken members of the Democrat party that have a long and very troubling record on Israel and BDS. But is quick to note failure of Amash to vote in favor of the special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, an initiative sponsored by a Republican, Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey. While Amash should not, like Senator Paul, be excused, his record is that of an isolationist, not a hater like Tlaib or Omar. Rothman’s point is not to defend Israel but to ignore those who would help destroy it.

Lee Shaiman

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