Israel faces an existential threat from Iran. President Biden has made the catastrophic decision to pay a $6 billion ransom for releasing American hostages held by the fanatical Islamists. This subsidy for Iran’s nuclear program and sponsorship of terrorism is one of the most damaging policy decisions for both U.S. and Israeli security. The pro-Israel community cannot support a candidate for president who funds one of our three greatest enemies (along with Russia and China).
I am not suggesting this means Israel’s friends should support former President Donald Trump. He may have been the most pro-Israel president in history, but he must thoroughly repudiate and distance himself from his association with the likes of Kanye West and Nick Fuentes and cease all dog whistles and condemn the support of white supremacists.
Unfortunately, two of the most pro-Israel alternatives, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, have decided to hire odious people who will sink their campaigns and raise concerns about their future support for Israel.
Haley has been a vocal supporter of Israel, and as U.N. ambassador, a staunch defender of the Jewish state against the mindless delegitimization of Israel by the majority of the members of the U.N. She rightfully became a superstar in the Jewish political world, which makes it all the more astonishing that she would hire Larry Weitzner and Jamestown Associates, the former managers of the disastrous Senate campaign of Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Weitzner, who is suing me for tarnishing his reputation because I publicly condemned Oz’s abandonment of Israel on his advice, while also claiming I am not really a rabbi (soon he’ll file a motion questioning if I’m circumcised), influenced Oz, then a close friend, to adopt the most radical political views, including election denial, advertisements with assault rifles after 19 children and two teachers were murdered at Uvalde Robb Elementary School, fat-shaming a stroke victim for his illness, and denying the Armenian genocide.
He also silenced Oz on Israel, rejecting my suggestion that Oz, as a Muslim candidate, could win goodwill and votes from the Jewish community by holding a press conference to declare his support for the Jewish state publicly. “Israel is not the issue that primary voters are most focused on,” he told me. Really? Tell that to the millions of evangelical Christians or the more than 400,000 Jewish residents of Pennsylvania, and countless other Americans who believe in freedom in the Middle East and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Before utterly destroying Oz’s reputation, Weitzner worked for Trump. He and his firm produced campaign ads in 2016 rife with antisemitic overtones. After 2020, he was among the Republicans who insisted there was fraud during the election.
What was Haley thinking when she hired this man and his failed consultancy, Jamestown Associates?
I respect and admire what Haley did as ambassador, but I cannot endorse a candidate who makes such a mistake. He will poison her campaign as he did Oz’s.
Sadly, Senator Scott made an equally disqualifying hire in Nick Muzin, who served as Scott’s chief of staff and political director when Scott was in the House. This is the man whose consulting firm was paid $300,000 a month by Qatar to improve the image of the terror-sponsoring Gulf kingdom.
But that was only the beginning. In January 2019, Mother Jones reported, “Two lobbyists [Muzin and his partner Joey Allaham] known for helping Qatar curry favor among allies of President Donald Trump received nearly $4 million from a mysterious PR firm that appears to be tied to the Qatari government — another indication that a shadow war in the Middle East has taken root in the DC swamp with little oversight.”
Yes, you heard that right. Tim Scott is employing a fundraiser who served as a Qatari foreign agent and who took millions from the principal funder of Hamas, which has murdered countless Jews.
Then the Wall Street Journal reported of Muzin in August 2018: “Mr. Allaham’s and Mr. Muzin’s lobbying firms earned at least $3 million from their work for Qatar, their federal filings show. They say the Qataris implored their guests to spread the word about what they saw as Qatar’s good works, including its aid to rebuild Gaza.” On “rebuild Gaza,” the meaning of course is fund Hamas.
And Qatar certainly needed the PR help. At the time, it was being boycotted by other Gulf nations. American Jews rightly had a horribly low opinion of the country whose emir called on the world to spurn Israel, condemned Israel for destroying terror tunnels, and accused Israel during its operations in Gaza of “war crimes.” The government-sponsored al-Jazeera network was, and remains, one of the principal sources of anti-Israel propaganda in the Arabic-speaking world.
Holding the antisemitic view that all-powerful Jews can influence the U.S. government, Qatar hired Muzin to arrange trips to Doha for the likes of lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations, and ZOA’s Mort Klein in the belief that winning them over would help gain support in the Jewish community for a country that supports the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the group that has bombarded Israel with thousands of missiles trying to murder Jews.
In an op-ed, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Dan Donovan explained Qatar’s broader strategy was to “make false promises about combating terror, lavishly fund western universities and business projects — all while quietly financing and promoting terror, allying with Iran, and leveraging an American air base as an insurance policy against punishment for promoting terror.”
How ironic that Muzin, an Orthodox Jew, was prepared to sell out Israel and the Jewish community for 30 pieces of silver. The phrase comes from the New Testament, which says that is the amount paid to Judas for betraying Jesus.
The execrable Muzin is now backing Scott’s primary campaign. On August 9, he co-hosted a fundraising event for the senator in the Hamptons. As another saying goes, this one for Scott: If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.
One test of a candidate’s fitness for office is their choice of advisers. As many of us predicted, Biden’s innate fondness for Israel has been undermined by his decision to put Middle East policy in the hands of the advisers who helped permanently tarnish Barack Obama with the Iran deal that gave the murderous Mullahs $150 billion by which they could hang more gays from cranes, stone more women to death, and plan Israel’s erasure from the earth.
We cannot afford to make the same mistake with candidates for 2024. Those who associate with people hostile toward Israel, or are dumb enough to even make them their official advisers or fundraisers, or who get in bed with the enemies of Israel, do not deserve our support. On this, there can be no compromise.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood is the author of “Judaism for Everyone”
and “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter