When he was just fourteen years old, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. received a phone call at his Jesuit boarding school in Bethesda, Maryland, informing him that his father, who had just won the California Democratic primary, had been shot.
He flew to Los Angeles aboard Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s plane and was with this father when he died.
Bobby served as a pallbearer at his father’s funeral, and later read portions of father’s speeches at a mass commemorating his father’s death. The man who murdered his father was a Palestinian domestic terrorist named Sirhan Sirhan.
As if all that horror wasn’t sufficiently unimaginable, leaders of the Jewish community are now attacking Bobby Kennedy Jr. as an antisemite.
There is much Bobby and I disagree on, from the legacy of his grandfather Joseph Kennedy, to the Covid-19 vaccines (I’m quintuple-vaxed), to American support for Ukraine. But to call Kennedy an antisemite is an affront to decency and is a straight-out lie that demeans the term, encourages the Jewish community to “cry wolf,” and slanders a great friend of Israel. Indeed, the hordes swarming Robert F. Kennedy Jr. with allegations of antisemitism are working overtime to conceal the big picture.
Kennedy is a lifelong friend of the Jewish community who has walked in the footsteps of his great father. As of now, he is the only major Democrat to come out against the Iran nuclear deal pursued by both President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden. He praised the Israeli recent counter-terror raid in Jenin – which Biden and his ambassador compared to a terror attack – saying that Israel protected civilians in ways no army had ever done before.
In politics, context – or lack of it – matters most. Jack Schlossberg, JFK’s only grandson, released a blistering tirade against his cousin. He ignored not only his cousin’s strong Jewish ties, but failed to note the fact that President Biden appointed his mother, the excellent Caroline Kennedy, as U.S. Ambassador to Australia – which surely presents an inescapable conflict of interest.
The red meat with the highest irony-content came from my own Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), whom I’ve known for some 30 years, ever since our days together at Oxford. Josh called Kennedy a “disgrace to the Kennedy name,” as if he were not only the arbiter of antisemitism but Lord Marshall of Camelot, as well.
Meanwhile, when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was voted off the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gottheimer rushed to defend her. He even cooked up a fraudulent pro-Israel statement for Omar to support.
All for naught. Just days later, Omar, a true antisemite, dropped the masquerade, vowing to “continue holding Israel accountable.” Right after that, Joe Rogan used Omar – famous for telling the world how much the Jews love their “Benjamins,” as an unfortunate pretext to launch a rant about how Jews love money as much as Italians love Pizza.
Apparently, Gottheimer only fights the antisemites running against Biden.
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz (D-FL), another tribune in Biden’s praetorian guard, made headlines for trying to silence and discredit Kennedy during his testimony at a U.S. House hearing on censorship last week.
But Wassermann Schultz leads the crusade against Kennedy as a transparent favor to President Biden, not for the Jewish community.
Like Gottheimer, Wassermann Schultz also fought to keep Omar on the House Foreign Relations Committee, saying, “There’s no reason to remove Congresswoman Omar from her committees except revenge.” Apparently, blaming Jewish “Benjamins” for controlling American policies and comparing Israel to the Taliban didn’t qualify.
Asked if she thought all Democrats would be united behind Omar, Wasserman Schultz replied, “Of course…”.
After all, as Biden panders to extremists and antisemites on the left while heaping insults on Israel’s elected leadership, it’s Wassermann Schultz who provides his problematic policies with a “Jewish” stamp of approval.
Biden’s National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism disappointed American Jews by refusing to adopt the Jewish community’s preferred definition of antisemitism, that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
In the past, Wassermann Schultz was an evangelist for the IHRA. She said the definition crucially “promotes a common understanding of the issue״ and sends “a strong message that governments understand the threat.” But when Biden decided to spurn the IHRA and sanction the Nexus knockoff, Wassermann-Schultz still praised the plan and its “fitting” release on Jewish Heritage Month – as if tokenism could atone for negating the Jewish consensus.
Wassermann Schultz is also complicit in the President’s mistreatment of Israel.
Biden repeatedly refused to invite Israel’s democratically-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in “gratuitous public fashion.” Even after Netanyahu told the press that Biden invited him to the U.S. over the phone, the White House went out of its way to omit the invitation from its readout of the call.
Even Morocco’s King Muhammed VI invited Netanyahu before Biden did. This is the same Biden who currently criticizes Israel’s government for being antidemocratic.
Perhaps for Israel’s next election, Biden ought to appoint whomever he believes should be in power, the Israeli electorate be damned.
Atop the protracted insult of not inviting Netanyahu, Biden passed a mafia don message to Israel’s Prime Minister through Bibi’s foremost English-language critic, the New York Times’ Tom Friedman. After a 75-minute meeting in the Oval Office – time the President could have given Netanyahu – Friedman produced a devastating hit piece against at Bibi, topped off with a threat: “You ignore [Biden’s] sincere concerns at your peril.”
Biden reportedly issued the warning to “correct” Netanyahu’s warm depiction of their phone call the previous day. The White House was seemingly concerned that Biden’s coldness was being overlooked.
That saga played out just a week after Biden dressed down Israel on CNN for having the “most extreme members of cabinet…since Golda Meir.” Biden used the same word – “extreme” – minutes later to describe terrorists murdering Jews in Judea and Samaria, drawing an outrageous equivalence between law-abiding Israeli leaders and heartless terrorist murderers.
Biden claims his toughness on Israel stems from love for Jews and democracy. Oh, if only these misguided Jews simply understood where there real interests lie!
But the mask melts off when, earlier this month, President Biden gingerly met with and flattered tyrants and white supremacists.
Turkey’s Erdogan compares Jews to Hitler, rigs elections, jails the press, and built himself a $615 million palace. Sitting on the sidelines of a NATO summit, Biden told the Turkish tyrant that “It’s a delight to be with you” and “I want to thank you for your leadership.”
On the same trip, Biden met with the leaders of Finland, governed by an extremist right-wing coalition whose ministers openly promoted antisemitism, racism, Islamophobia, and violence against immigrants. Far from the vitriol reserved for Israel, Biden declared Finland a “capable partner” and “committed democracy.”
But these examples pale when compared to what the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board noted, that Biden and his administration treat Israel “worse than they do the Mullahs in Iran,” to whom he’s already released billions of dollars.
Wassermann Schultz’s complicity in Biden’s appeasement of Iran goes back to his days as vice president in 2015.
Initially, Florida’s first Jewish congresswoman promised she was “never afraid to stand alone when necessary” and swore to use her Jewish heart. She assured her constituents that her decision would be based “not on politics, not on anything else.”
Three days later, she backed President Obama on live TV, giving a tearful description of how “gut-wrenching” it was for her as a “Jewish mother” to support Obama’s terror-funding Iran deal. She then declared that there was no better way to “ensure Israel’s survival throughout the generations” than by forking $150 billion dollars to a regime threatening a second Holocaust. Most ridiculous was her assertion that fiscally empowering Iran would somehow allow the United States to “more closely concentrate on their terrorist activities.”
To be fair, her support did not sway the ultimate outcome, since Obama by then had secured enough Democrats in the Senate. But as head of the DNC, Wasserman-Schultz’s endorsement endowed the deal with much-needed legitimacy, helping to keep the deal alive to this day. Enlisting the support of one of America’s top Jewish lawmakers was a parting shot from Obama to the Jewish community, which had openly defied him on Iran.
Wasserman-Schultz claims she caved after spending hours “grilling” Biden and Obama. Indeed. Good thing it had nothing to do with party or power.
On a visit to Florida to pitch the deal to Jewish constituents in her district, then Vice President Biden called Wassermann-Schultz the “face of the party” and even claimed it was he who was working for her. She returned the favor, calling Biden a “mensch” and “one of us” in “everything but blood.”
Meanwhile she cut off the mics for the question-and-answer period after told attendees not to record or discuss what was said, in order to maintain the “integrity” of the process. It was a tactic similar to the one she used against Robert F. Kennedy Jr. last week in Washington, attempting to move his testimony to an executive session where it wouldn’t be broadcast live. Yet another American lawmaker committed to openness and democracy.
By unmasking their waning support for Jews and Israel, Kennedy threatens Democrats Wassermann Schultz and Gottheimer as much as he does Joe Biden.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the author of “Judaism for Everyone” and “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.