With pro-Palestinian vote, Cory Booker betrays vulnerable Jews


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Friday to halt U.S. taxpayer funding for the Palestinian Authority so long as it persists in the “pay-to-slay” policy whereby jailed terrorists and relatives of suicide bombers and other murderers receive salaries.

This heinous policy of rewarding killers and providing incentives for other Palestinians to attack Jews has been effectively subsidized by the United States for years. Shockingly, my good friend Cory Booker was one of only four senators to vote against the bipartisan Taylor Force Act.

Cory and I already had a serious public disagreement when he failed to stand on principle and oppose the catastrophic nuclear deal with Iran. I felt that surely the threat of genocide directed at Israel and the Jewish people would move him to oppose the funding of a government sworn to Israel’s annihilation.

{mosads}Surely he recognizes the consequences of his actions as Iran threatens the entire Middle East. Thanks to the giant loopholes in the agreement, Iran continues to test increasingly advanced ballistic missiles with the intention of one day arming them with nuclear warheads. Iranian troops engage in the daily murder of innocents in Syria and Yemen. Iran’s leaders threaten their Arab neighbors, who also happen to be America’s allies.

Even as they fight ISIS terrorists, Iran arms and funds Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad terrorists. Iran’s leaders also continue to issue threats directed at the United States and Israel. And, of course, the nuclear sham deal did not stop the centrifuges from spinning or Iranian operatives from pursuing nuclear weapons components.

My relationship with Cory has always been unique. It transcended race, religion, partisanship and inspired many people who couldn’t understand how a rabbi and an African American from vastly different backgrounds could develop an unbreakable bond. Cory travelled with me to Israel and he knows the tragic history of the Jewish people and the miracle of the rebirth of the Jewish state. I never imagined that out of all the issues on which we might disagree, support for Israel and the Jewish people would be to cause distance between us.

His position on the Iran deal was wrong, but I understand he was under tremendous pressure to support President Obama and his signature foreign policy initiative. Though the threat of genocide against the Jewish people should have never been a partisan issue, President Obama turned it into a test of loyalty to him.

The Taylor Force Act, however, has the support of Republicans and Democrats. It is named after Taylor Force, a native of Lubbock, Texas, who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. After completing his service, Taylor was studying for his MBA at Vanderbilt University when he went to Israel as part of a study group examining global entrepreneurship. A terrorist from the West Bank city of Qalqilya murdered him in Jaffa on March 8, 2016, in an attack that also injured eleven people. Because he died while committing an act of terrorism, the relatives of Taylor Force’s murderer are paid a monthly pension by the Palestinian equal to several times the average monthly Palestinian wage.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) economy is almost totally dependent on aid from the United States and other donor nations and yet President Mahmoud Abbas authorized the expenditure of approximately $175 million – 7 percent of the budget – to pay more than 32,500 martyrs’ families in 2016. When Trump demanded the PA end this “pay-to-slay” policy, Abbas refused and the PA announced plans to increase payments.

Cory voted to allow this policy to continue.

I cannot fathom a rationale to explain this position. This legislation was initiated by his Senate colleagues so he cannot claim this was a vote against Donald Trump. He also cannot say the act will hurt the search for peace; it does the opposite by sending a message to the Palestinians that killing Jews is not acceptable. The Palestinians must be shown that terrorism will not be rewarded.

Cory served as my student president at Oxford. He has a deep-seated love for Israel and the Jewish people. I am profoundly shocked and confused that my dear friend of nearly 25 years could have voted against a bill that simply demands that the Palestinian Authority stop funding the murder of Jews. I hope and pray that Cory will reverse himself on this profound moral point.

I have stood beside Cory while he has spoken to Jewish audiences around the United States. He understands how desperately Israelis want peace. He knows the last thing Israeli mothers and fathers want to do is send their children to the military to defend their country if they had the option of living in peace with their neighbors. He also must realize that as much as Israelis dream of peace, they cannot, and will not, make concessions so long as the Palestinians remain unwilling to coexist with a Jewish state and continue to incite violence.

Thankfully, 17 senators voted to move this legislation to the floor of the Senate where I hope it will pass with overwhelming bipartisan support. Cory will have his chance then to redeem his vote and prove that the foremost purpose of power is moral action and accountability.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international bestselling author of 30 books including his most recent “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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