Will the Real Cory Booker Stand Up? | Y. Ben-Gershon

With the Democratic presidential primary well underway, candidates are jockeying for the most liberal positions, each one trying to out-left and out-progressive the next. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that candidates pandering to the base that sent ‘The Squad’ into power would try to position themselves as the ‘Trump-opposite’. With regard to America’s relationship with Israel, that would mean moving away from America’s historically strong alliance with the Jewish State. Indeed, (Jewish!) Senator Bernie Sanders angrily wrote off the Israeli government as ‘racist’ and Elizabeth Warren’s support for Israel curiously ‘progressed’ with the primary season. While she used to insist that “Israel has a right to defend itself and we have an interest in Israel … surviving”, she would now advises the IDF to “exercise restraint”.

For those concerned with Israel’s security and survival, it is disconcerting to see the traditional party of American Jews and support for Israel (it was Harry Truman who first recognized the fledgling state), watch the shrinking field of Democratic candidates distance themselves from befriending the State of Israel. A most telling moment occurred recently as the first Democratic debate drew to a close, the moderators posed a simple, ‘Yes or No’ question to those assembled on stage: “If elected president, would you reenter the Iran Deal?” (President Trump pulled the US out of what he denounced as a ‘disastrous deal’.) In a perhaps the only display of unity through the evening, the hand of every single candidate went up. Except for one: That of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

Pundits raised their eyebrows. Cory Booker? Wasn’t it just a few years earlier- in what was a great disappointment to the Jewish community- that Senator Booker voted in favor of President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement?

Back in 2015, all that stood in the way of the Iran Deal- widely seen as unfavorable to Israel’s national security interests- from taking effect was the US Senate’s approval. With emotions and passions running high, an intense campaign was undertaken to convince lawmakers to oppose it. Speeches were made, rallies were held. Pressure started to mount. Senator Schumer announced he would vote no, as did NJ Senator Bob Menendez. All eyes turned to Cory Booker: Would the man we welcomed into our dinners, who captivated us with his eloquent dvar Torahs pull through for us in this time of need? In the end, Senator Booker voted yes- sorely disappointing the Jewish community.

But over the ensuing years, it became clear that the Iran Deal vote- significant as it was- in no way defines Cory Booker’s relationship with Israel, nor with the community. To date, he remains the only Democratic candidate who not only voted for, but sponsored a bill barring US companies from engaging in the BDS movement, a position that caused pro-Palestinian protesters to repeatedly interrupt his campaign events. Despite the backlash, Senator Booker unflinchingly maintained his opposition to BDS. He threw his support behind the Taylor Force Act, which conditions US aid to the Palestinian Authority on ending support for terrorism. (The first time it came up for a vote, he voted against it, because of a last-minute scheme pulled off by Senate Republicans to include all humanitarian aid in the bill. After demanding that it be revised to the original language, he fully supported it.) And, as he showed on the debate stage he is the sole candidate that would not re-engage in the Iran Deal should he be elected President.

Not only has he been there for the Jewish State, Cory Booker has consistently been there for the Jewish community. Community leaders know they have a listening and responsive ear in Cory Booker. He has been instrumental in assisting individuals and organizations cut through red tape and bureaucratic tangles. A well-known figure recalls one particularly memorable story: During the last shemittah year, a group of shemitta-observant farmers were slated to arrive in America to raise desperately needed funds to keep them financially afloat as their land lay fallow. The Israeli organization responsible for arranging the trip was unaware of the United States’ immigration policies and failed to provide them with the necessary visas. When the mistake was realized- just a few days before the trip- it was too late to procure the required documents. The farmers were scheduled to hold a rally and some had paid speaking engagements. Without the paperwork, though, it would impossible to enter the State. It seemed as if the trip, with all of its associated events would have to be cancelled, until a call was placed to Washington DC to the Office of US Senator Cory Booker. As soon as he was apprised of the situation, the Senator went to work calling high-placed officials within the Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol. When a US Senator calls, people listen: The visas were ready for the farmers just a few hours later. The episode is one of many where Senator Booker personally went to work for his constituents to befuddled individuals navigate insurance complications, inmates obtain their religious liberties and the Jewish community at large.

In sum, while we were disappointed with his vote on the Iran Deal, it is unfair and unwise to define a politician solely based on one vote. It is also important to bear in mind that while the outcome of the current primary race remains highly uncertain, there is one guarantee: Cory Booker will be our community’s representative, either as President of the United States or from the chamber of the US Senate. Therefore, as a friend and outspoken supporter of Israel and the Jewish community at large, Cory Booker needs- and is deserving of, our support.

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  1. Cory “Spartacus” Booker is a backstabbing turncoat opportunist who will do anything and change any position to win higher office.

  2. balderdash! this guy is a mealy mouthed , two faced, fake,phony fraud!! the iran deal wasnt some innocent ‘ one time deal’ that should be ignored! iran has sworn that they will destroy israel. hitler was not taken seriously either when he made similar pronouncements. booker can NEVER be pardoned for voting to prop up the nazi like regime of Iran!!!!!

  3. There is nothing “real” about Cory Booker. He is a typical politician that will go which ever way he deems he benefits the most. He had nothing to lose by securing visas for those farmers. He showed the world he is a fair weather Jewish friend on the Iran vote. Fool me once, not twice. He is a backstabbing politician.

  4. Booker voted against the Taylor force ACT bill in commitee after it was changed to exclude humanitarian aid and since it was voted in the full Senate as part of an omnibus bill we dont actually know if he supports the bill by itself he also posed for photos with anti Israel activists with a poster an anti Israel poster, he said he would sit down with the Jew hater farrakhan and then weeks later reversed himself, oh and he called anyone who is anti abortion on demand and anti toevah marriage evil which means he considered the frum Lakewood community evil.

  5. How anyone can say the man who effectively called frum Jews evil deserves our support I have no idea.
    Oh and supporting and voting for pro Israel legislation that is guaranteed to pass as the Republican majority is pro Israel is meaningless what counts would be standing up for Israel when your vote counts and standing up to your party and voting against a deal you admit is terrible instead of kow towing to your party because party trumps all as you need them to support your future bud for the presidency.

    • Cory Booker does what’s good for Cory Booker.

      They think we can’t see them and the way we always vote as a group, I fear they may be right.

  6. This Puff Piece makes me sad.

    The Iran deal votes defines Cory booker to a tee.

    His constituents didn’t support it but it was in his own interest to vote the way he did.

    He acted against the interest of those who elected him. That is and always will be all that matters.

    Keeping your hand down during a debate is worthless when every action is the opposite of what you espouse verbally. That’s simply posturing for the camera.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me again, shame on me.

    Don’t be a fool. Vote him out.

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