A rabbi who is under fire for an advertisement calling National Security Adviser Susan Rice "blind" to genocide repeated the charge on Newsmax TV
Monday, telling "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that he is drawing attention to the folly of a nuclear deal with Israel's nemesis Iran.
"She can't turn a blind eye to genocide," said Shmuley Boteach, a New Jersey rabbi and author who took out a full-page ad on Saturday in the New York Times denouncing Rice.
"Iran is threatening a genocide of the Jewish people."
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The ad, headlined, "Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide," is being condemned by other prominent pro-Israel groups and activists, and by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even though he agrees with Boteach that a U.S.-brokered nuclear deal with Iran threatens Israel's existence.
Netanyahu delivered his warning
about Iran at a meeting of Jewish leaders in Washington on Monday. He is expected to repeat it to Congress on Tuesday despite White House and congressional Democrats boycotting the address as a slap at President Barack Obama.
Boteach, who is also in Washington this week, said his ad was a response to Rice criticizing Netanyahu. With U.S.-Israeli relations deteriorating, Rice last week said it is "destructive" of Israel's leader to bypass the White House and go to Congress with a message that contradicts official U.S. foreign policy.
"I suddenly saw Susan Rice saying on national television, on Charlie Rose, that the very idea of the prime minister of Israel speaking about the Iran deal could destroy the fabric of U.S.-Israel ties," said Boteach.
"This is a nation that experienced a genocide, a Holocaust, 6 million Jews gassed to death and 1.5 million children murdered, annihilated just 70 years ago," he said. "We have an obligation to speak out. You can't silence us. You can't tell the prime minister that if you speak up, you're going to ruin the relationship."
Another "MidPoint" guest on Monday, Nathan J. Diament of the Orthodox Union, agreed that any deal with Iran is a concern for Israel, but said that the Boteach ad "did cross the line."
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"It was a very personal attack on one individual in the administration" and "a distraction from the real issue," said Diament.
Boteach, a television personality nicknamed "America's Rabbi," said he doesn't care if he's alone in his portrayal of Rice as indifferent to genocide
based in part on her past remarks about Rwanda.
"I don't determine my principles and convictions by popularity and praise, or by criticism and condemnation," he said.
"My convictions come from within," he said. "But think about this: In the run-up to the Holocaust, if people had rattled the cage, if people had made noise, if people had created a sense of discomfort with Jews dying, then they probably wouldn't have died.
"Now, we are in a run-up to something bad happening," he said of U.S.-led efforts to negotiate an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program. "There may be a deal done with the government which is the largest sponsor of terrorism around the world, and that has repeatedly threatened the Jews of Israel with complete annihilation.
"They're about to get a deal that would give them not only billions and billions of dollars released from frozen funds … but they may get a deal that could get them 6,500 centrifuges spinning and enriching uranium, and leaving them in a one-year breakout period to a nuclear bomb," said Boteach.
"Are we supposed to remain silent? Do you think I care about criticism?" he said, adding, "Where is the condemnation, respectfully, of Susan Rice to have said that the prime minister can't even speak out?"
Boteach also questioned how the U.S. could "continue to negotiate with Iran without first demanding that they repudiate those genocidal threats" against Israel.
"It's imperative the Jewish community defend itself … through being vocal and politically organized," he said, noting his presence on Monday at the AIPAC conference of Jewish leaders in Washington where Natanyahu spoke.
"People don't have to agree with me," said Boteach. "Those who condemn me and the ad, I didn't flip out about it because that's part of the discourse. It's called dialogue and freedom of speech. Let the prime minister speak."
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