CAIR and the Rabbis
As anti-Semitism grows in America, synagogue safety has become an urgent concern for most American Jewish leaders. Not so, it would seem, for the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis (MBR). Recently, MBR joined forces with the Hamas front group CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations) to picket the Ahavath Torah Congregation in the South Shore town of Stoughton for hosting speakers whom CAIR calls “anti-Muslim hate group leaders.” The scare campaign ended up working. The synagogue had to permanently shut down its speaker series after CAIR and MBR publicized the synagogue’s address on social media. The synagogue’s rabbi, Jonathan Hausman, got death threats and was forced to hire security guards for his family.
CAIR is a strange ally for a rabbinical board. CAIR’s Massachusetts branch is headed by an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist and an anti-police activist with a history of Israel-bashing. In 2009, a federal district judge ruled that there is “at least a prima facie case as to CAIR’s involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas.” Ever since, the FBI has refused to work with CAIR because there might still “be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas.” Even the United Arab Emirates, not exactly the most Israel-friendly country in the world, banned CAIR as a terrorist organization in 2014.
Unlike CAIR, Ahavath Torah’s guest speakers would seem like strange enemies for a rabbinical board. Invited by Rabbi Hausman for a talk titled, “National Security Chaos: Are We Passing the Tipping Point?”, the panelists were all former U.S. government officials. One, retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, is an American hero. A veteran of many wars, General Boykin commanded the Delta Force units in the Mogadishu battle dramatized in the movie Black Hawk Down. Off the battlefield, he served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence between 2002 and 2007. Another guest was former congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who worked at a kibbutz as a teenager and has spoken at many an AIPAC event without previous rabbinical umbrage. General Boykin and the event moderator, Tom Trento, together with the third guest, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, have all been honored with “Genesis Awards” by the Boston-based group, Christians and Jews United for Israel, which represents the values and opinions of many Jewish New Englanders.
In CAIR’s telling, Rabbi Hausman had assembled an “unholy trinity” of guests at his synagogue; and the MBR rabbis slathered their own religious hyperbole on top of CAIR’s as they urged their flocks to come out to the picket. In a homily on Noah’s flood, Victor Reinstein, the chair of MBR’s Public Policy Committee compared himself to a “dove flying above” what he described as “the churning flood of hate” spewing from Ahavath Torah. In Reinstein’s telling, CAIR’s picket was “the people standing together, each as the dove that went out from the ark and offered hope beyond the flood.”
Ahavath Torah’s Rabbi Hausman had a different perspective:
“People in my congregation witnessed the MBR picketing -- arm-in-arm with members of CAIR -- in front of my synagogue over a panel on national security that discussed a number of issues relative to the U.S.-Israel relationship... The MBR brought enemies of the Jewish people to my synagogue’s gates and did so without bothering to review the content of the program they were picketing.”
CAIR and the rabbis also organized a public statement denouncing Ahavath Torah, signed by MBR members on behalf of their congregations, and by far-left Christian clergy on behalf of theirs. This ecumenical “fatwa” against Ahavath Torah declared: “Our houses of worship should be spaces for prayer, reflection, study, and community building. While free political debate is a vital element in our democracy, voices that demonize ethnic, racial, or faith groups have no place in our sanctuaries.”
By those same standards, CAIR certainly has no place in the rabbis’ sanctuaries, and the rabbis had no place standing outside of Rabbi Hausman’s, arm-in-arm with CAIR. According to the Anti-Defamation League: “CAIR has a long record of anti-Israel activity... Its chapters partner with various anti-Israel groups that seek to isolate and demonize the Jewish State.” Yet under the presidency of Rabbi Toba Spitzer, MBR rabbis have gladly given CAIR leaders places of honor at their synagogues’ podia.
In 2017, for example, a CAIR official was given a place of honor in the sanctuary of former MBR president Howard Jaffe, where the CAIR official asked Rabbi Jaffe’s congregation for donations while accusing Israel of “maleficence.” Strangely, when my non-profit group, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), wondered why voices that demonize Jews and Israel should have a place in Rabbi Jaffe’s sanctuary, the MBR rabbis had a very different reaction. In a mass denunciation statement, similar to the one it had used to attack Rabbi Hausman and his congregation, MBR condemned what it saw as APT’s “attacks on Rabbi Jaffe and his congregation.”
“There is no place in our community for this kind of verbal violence,” the MBR rabbis declared (a year after helping Hamas supporters picket a synagogue), recycling the silly totalitarian trope, likely as old as language itself, that speaking truth to power is violence. MBR president Rabbi Spitzer went even further in an interview with the local Jewish paper, presuming to excommunicate APT president Charles Jacobs, like some modern-day Baruch Spinoza, from the New England Jewish community.
All the lies that CAIR and MBR had poured on General Boykin and the other Ahavath Torah guests came from the disgraced Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which was forced last year to apologize and pay a British Muslim $3 million for smearing him as an Islamophobe. In 2012, a violent zealot incited by SPLC lies attempted to kill General Boykin and many others. (It is very hard to kill General Boykin.) The armed progressive activist broke into the offices of the Family Research Council -- a conservative Christian group where General Boykin serves as vice-president -- and started shooting before being disarmed by a security guard, who was wounded in the process. According to court records, the progressive activist “had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center website.” His plan was to “enter the FRC that day to kill as many people as possible and smother Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in their faces... to make a statement against the people who work in that building.”
The shooter at the FRC, bizarrely, brought chicken sandwiches for his targets. In Stoughton, CAIR and its Jewish collaborators brought donuts for theirs. Both were meant to feed fear, not stomachs, as part of a political intimidation strategy by totalitarian bigots. In Massachusetts, thanks to Rabbi Spitzer and her MBR gang, the intimidation has, so far, worked.