NEW YORK – The Obama campaign is refusing to sever ties with a radical rabbi who has called for a boycott against Israeli products, has dined with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and was the first American rabbi to visit Tehran.
Reform Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb is one of 613 rabbis pledging their support for Obama as part of the presidential campaign’s official “Rabbis for Obama” group unveiled earlier this week.
The Obama campaign website says “Rabbis For Obama” sees the president as an “advocate for issues important to the Jewish community.”
“The endorsement of President Obama by the rabbis speaks volumes about the president’s deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel and his dedication to a policy agenda that represents the values of the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community,” Ira Forman, Jewish outreach director for the campaign, told the Huffington Post on Tuesday.
However, Gottlieb’s inclusion on the list has prompted two conservative groups to call for her removal, a move the Obama campaign is now refusing to accommodate.
“The president’s strong support of Israel and toughest-ever actions against Iran has led rabbis from across the political spectrum to express their support for the president and have committed to seeing him re-elected,” a campaign official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today. “The president obviously does not endorse or embrace their every affiliation, action or utterance.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Committee For Israel have both called for Gottlieb’s removal from the campaign list, citing what they say is the rabbi’s anti-Israel views.
Gottlieb is a prominent member of the Jewish Voice for Peace, which the Anti-Defamation League has called one of the “top 10 anti-Israel groups.”
The Jewish Voice for Peace pursues corporate, university and governmental divestment from Israel, claiming the Jewish state engages in human rights violations.
She was the first U.S. rabbi to visit Iran on an official mission.
In 2008, she spoke at an interfaith dialogue Ramadan dinner with Ahmadinejad even after the Iranian leader had denied the Holocaust and called for the destruction of Israel.
In that speech, Gottleib explained the importance of the Holocaust and also suggested that according to the Torah, the U.S. should engage in direct peace talks with Iran.
“The Torah urges direct negotiations, acts of face-to-face reconciliation as the way to peace,” she told Ahmadinejad at the dinner. “I pray for this insight as it relates to the government of the United States and the government of Iran.”