RJC blasts Obama campaign over one of its rabbinic endorsers


The Republican Jewish Coalition took a close look at the Obama campaign’s newly released list of 600+ rabbinic supporters and is calling on the campaign to sever its ties to one of them.

The RJC’s target is Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, a California Renewal rabbi who has endorsed the Palestinian BDS call and is a member of the advisory board and rabbinical council of the far-left Jewish Voice for Peace.

She was the only rabbi to speak at a controversial 2008 interfaith dialogue dinner in New York hosted for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, where she discussed the Holocaust and expressed support for Palestinian rights and for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. (More on her speech here.)

The RJC cites her JVP affiliation and the Ahmadinejad event as putting her beyond the pale for such a list.

UPDATE: It’s not clear whether the RJC thinks that JVP affiliation by itself is sufficient to render someone treyf for inclusion in such a list. Among the 600+ Obama rabbinic endorsers, there are eight members of JVP’s 35-person rabbinical council. In any case, I don’t imagine that campaigns are keeping huge lists of people whose endorsements they are going to refuse on the basis of their foreign policy views.

UPDATE II: The Obama campaign isn’t acceding to the RJC’s demand, with one campaign official telling JTA that the rabbis hail from “across the political spectrum” and that the president “obviously does not endorse or embrace their every affiliation, action or utterance." And the anti-Obama Emergency Committee for Israel’s William Kristol issued a statement blasting the Obama campaign for the presence of some BDS supporters and Jewish Voice for Peace members on its list of endorsers.

In its press release, the RJC writes:


The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) today expressed profound outrage at the inclusion of radical rabbi Lynn Gottlieb on the official list released by the Obama campaign of “Rabbis for Obama.” Rabbi Gottlieb has a long and troubling history, which includes dining with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, being the first American rabbi to visit Tehran, and serving in an organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, which the Anti-Defamation League has called one of the “top ten anti-Israel groups.”

By promoting and showcasing Rabbi Gottlieb as one of Pres. Obama’s supporters, the Obama campaign lends legitimacy and credibility to a rabbi whose extreme views are well beyond the mainstream of the Jewish community and the mainstream of America.

According to RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks, there can be only two explanations for her inclusion in the list: 1) the Obama campaign failed to properly vet the rabbis on their official list, or 2) they did properly vet the rabbis and chose to ignore Rabbi Gottlieb’s radical views.

Either way, this speaks volumes about the Obama campaign’s judgment and the RJC calls on the Obama campaign to immediately remove her from any formal or official involvement in the campaign.

The RJC statement points to Gottlieb’s inclusion and the speaking role for former President Jimmy Carter at the upcoming Democratic National Convention as evidence of "the insensitivity of the Obama campaign to the concerns of the Jewish community."

Recommended from JTA