August 8, 2018
News Press Release

UPDATED: Senator Booker’s Speech/Actions Contradict Aide’s Flimsy Excuse for Booker Holding Anti-Israel Sign with BDS Leaders

Booker Should Personally Disavow Sign and Anti-Israel BDS Organizations, and Retract his Netroots Speech Praising Mentor and Israel Hater Carl Sharif
Credit: Twitter

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and Director of Special Projects Elizabeth A. Berney Esq. released the following statement:

UPDATE: After ZOA posted this press release, the far left, anti-Israel Intercept website published an article entitled “Cory Booker Claims He Didn’t Know He Held A Pro-Palestine Sign. New Details Cast Doubt On His Denial.” The Intercept stated that it received the following statement from the [anti-Israel BDS umbrella group] USCPR: “Our elected officials are also increasingly embracing Palestinian rights … It was in this overwhelmingly supportive environment at Netroots Nation that our contingent had the opportunity to meet Sen. Cory Booker briefly and discuss our work for freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people before posing for a photo with him.

The Intercept article then noted: “The last sentence of that statement suggests that Booker had spoken to the USCPR members prior to the photo being taken, thus raising some skepticism about his claim that he did not know what the sign said.” The USCPR statement indeed seems to further suggest that Booker know what the sign he held said and meant.

Journalists and twitter users correctly condemned Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) for holding an anti-Israel sign while posing for a picture with three anti-Israel BDS leaders at the radical far left Netroots National convention in New Orleans last Friday.  Booker’s aide, Jeff Giertz later explained that Booker “didn’t have time to read the sign” and “didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel.”   However, Mr. Giertz’s flimsy excuse is contradicted by Senator Booker’s own speech at the Netroots convention and his policies. Booker spoke about his soul and spirit being nourished by taking selfies and “looking into [your] eyes and you all telling me what you’re passionate about.”  We do understand that anyone can make a mistake, and acknowledge that this is a possibility.  However, it is difficult to believe Giertz’s statement that Booker “didn’t know,” when Booker himself made a point of speaking about listening to the interests of all those who approached him for pictures.  And, when Booker also spent a large chunk of his Netroots speech praising his mentor, deceased Israel-basher Carl Sharif. 

Does it make sense that Senator Booker also didn’t read the anti-Israel slogan emblazoned on the shirt of the woman standing next to him in the photo, and didn’t notice that both individuals standing next to him in the photo were wearing large badges identifying their affiliation with virulent anti-Israel organizations?  

Senator Booker’s vote for Obama Iran Bill, vote against the Taylor Force Act in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his refusal to support the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act casts additional doubts on the credibility of his excuse.

And shouldn’t Sen. Booker have been familiar with the anti-Israel slogan on the sign he held, as it is a common anti-Israel slogan/chant, and the exact same anti-Israel slogan was printed on tote bags distributed at the Netroots conference?  

It seems that Senator Booker at least should have been aware of the Netroots conference’s anti-Israel predilection, in light of the scheduled anti-Israel Netroots panel entitled “Progressives for Palestinian Rights,” run by leaders of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR, an unindicted conspirator named in the Holy Land Foundation trial for funneling money to HAMAS), and other radical anti-Israel groups.

We are also less inclined to believe Mr. Giertz’s excuse because Senator Booker betrayed his longstanding friends and generous boosters in the Jewish community by supporting the catastrophic Iran deal – a $150-billion-dollar infusion that enabled the Islamist Iranian regime to increase its proxies’ and its own terrorist activities against Israel and other American allies.   

Further, Senator Booker’s 2017 vote against the Taylor Force Act in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his refusal to support the federal Israel Anti-Boycott Act casts additional doubts on the credibility of Mr. Giertz’s excuse.  The Taylor Force Act cut funding to the Palestinian Authority, for paying terrorists to slay Jews and Americans.  (See, e.g., Why Some Jewish Groups Aren’t Happy With Cory Booker,” by Jonathan D. Salant, NJ Advance Media, Aug. 13, 2017.)

It would be easier to believe that the Senator simply made a mistake if he had a consistent pro-Israel voting record.

Thus, a mountain of evidence points to Booker’s knowledge of what he was doing.  In any event, regardless of whether or not Senator Booker knew what he was doing, or whether it was a mistake, it is incumbent on Senator Booker to personally – and not through an aide, correct this matter.  Senator Booker should: 

  • publicly declare that he supports Israel’s security fence and security measures; 
  • denounce anti-Israel BDS; 
  • denounce the anti-Israel BDS leaders with whom Senator Booker posed, and the anti-Israel organizations with which they are affiliated (Adalah, the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and the so-called Center for Constitutional Rights, Students for Justice for Palestine, and Jewish Voice for Peace); 
  • renounce and apologize for his praise of Carl Sharif; and 
  • support the strongest possible anti-BDS federal laws.  

Background:  This past Friday, at the radical far left Netroots National convention in New Orleans, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker posed for a picture, holding a sign that blared in bright yellow capital letters: “FROM PALESTINE TO MEXICO, ALL THE WALLS HAVE GOT TO GO.”   This slogan seeks to eliminate Israel’s right to protect her people.  Israel erected the security fence to help stop 5 years of deadly Palestinian-Arab suicide bombings and other terror attacks during the Second Intifada, which maimed or murdered 10,000 innocent Jews.  

The sign held up by Booker also included the logo and website address of the “US Campaign for Palestinian Rights” (“USCPR”) – the U.S. umbrella coalition of the most vile anti-Israel groups.  USCPR directs and coordinates a plethora of campaigns to demonize, harm, boycott, divest from, sanction, and economically destroy the Jewish state; defend terrorist Rasmea Odeh; and attack and harass pro-Israel Americans.  According to a recent exposé, USCPR also funnels money to a Palestinian-Arab terror network that includes 5 groups designated by the United States as foreign terrorist organizations: Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front – General Command (PFLP-GC), the Palestine Liberation Front, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).  (See BDS Umbrella Group Linked To Palestinian Terrorist Organizations,” by Armin Rosen & Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, June 1, 2018; and “BDS and Terrorism are One Hate Network: New reports reveal the connections between BDS and Islamic terrorists,” by Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage Mag.,July 4, 2018.) 

The exact same slogan – “FROM PALESTINE TO MEXICO, ALL THE WALLS HAVE GOT TO GO” – along with the USCPR logo and website address, that was on the sign held by Senator Booker, was also emblazoned in large red capital letters on tote bags distributed by USCPR at the Netroots conference.  It is also a common anti-Israel chant.  There are numerous videos of anti-Israel groups chanting the slogan.  This anti-Israel slogan is also a bumper sticker.  It, thus, seems unlikely that anyone familiar with the “progressive” left had not seen or heard the slogan before, and known exactly what it was about – even from a quick glance.  

Further, while holding this anti-Israel sign, Senator Booker was posing, smiling, standing together with a trio of anti-Israel leaders from well-known anti-Israel BDS organizations: Leah Muskin-Pierret from USCPR; Dominic Renfey from the so-called Center for Constitutional Rights (“CCR,” which engages in lawfare and BDS against Israel); and Nadia Ben-Youssef, U.S. representative of the Soros- and NIF-funded Adalah (which among other things, brings false “war crimes” claims against Israel).  

Muskin-Pierret’s and Renfey’s prominent badges identified their affiliations with USCPR and CCR. In addition, Muskin-Pierret wore a shirt in the photo that read, again in all bold, difficult-to-miss capital letters, “PALESTINE IS A FEMINIST/QUEER/REFUGEE/RACIAL JUSTICE ISSUE.”

Canary Mission’s exposé on Adalah official Nadia Ben-Youssef sets forth her long record of defending and demanding the release of Islamic Jihad and PFLP terrorists; vilifying Israel; promoting a “day of rage” against Israel; and supporting BDS.  

Canary Mission’s exposé on USCPR official Leah Muskin-Pierret describes her long list of horrifying activities, including serving as a student leader of anti-Israel hate groups Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP); leading the bullying and harassment of pro-Israel students at an Israeli cultural event at Tufts; supporting the surprise (ambush-style) Tufts student government anti-Israel BDS resolution on Passover eve 2017 – when Jewish students could not attend to combat it; donating to and supporting convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh (who was responsible for murdering two Jewish students); demonizing Israel; and helping to organize a national SJP event. 

In light of all the foregoing, it is difficult to believe that Senator Booker was unaware that he was posing for a photo that supported anti-Israel groups and an anti-Israel message.

Sen. Booker’s keynote speech at Netroots: Senator Booker’s ignorance regarding the anti-Israel sign he held up is also difficult to believe in light of Senator Booker’s keynote speech at the Netroots conference.  At the beginning of his speech, Booker stated:

Say Power. Power.  Power.  Power. I am so thrilled to be here with everybody today. . . .  And I had a chance to take a lot of selfies, and talk to a lot of folks.  And I appreciate the warmth with which I was greeted. But more than that, I appreciate looking into your eyes and you all telling me what you’re passionate about.  I met folk who were passionate about justice for animals. I met people who were passionate about Washington DC having more people in than 2 states, but not having states’ rights.  I met people who know about the injustice of the criminal justice reform.   I met activists who are using technology in innovative ways. The more I shook hands, the more selfies I took, the more I felt my soul and my spirit nourished.”

(See C-Span video, at https://www.c-span.org/video/?449357-1/senator-cory-booker-remarks-netroots-nation-conference, at minutes 17.46 – 19:27.)

In other words, Booker apparently acknowledged that he was aware of what all the persons with whom he was taking selfies “are passionate about.”   This contradicts the statement by Booker’s aide.  

In addition, Booker spent a major chunk of his Netroots keynote speech extolling Booker’s (deceased) mentor, Newark power-broker Carl Sharif.  Playing to the left’s Islamists, Booker told the crowd that Sharif changed his name from Carl Dawson and “joined the Islamic community.”  Booker then called Sharif an “incredible leader” and “authentic spirit” who “sent me out on an odyssey of love.”   

Unfortunately, the man whom Booker extolled as some sort of paragon of love, had no love for the innocent Jewish parents and children in southern Israel who were subjected to years of rocket attacks by Hamas.  When Israel finally struck at Hamas’s weapons bases in December 2008-January 2009, while taking great care to avoid harming Palestinian-Arab civilians, Sharif viciously attacked Israel.  Sharif falsely accused Israel of “savagery” and committing “slaughter” and a “highly disproportionate assault on Gaza,” “cunningly timed,” and “merciless eradication” of Palestinians. 

Sharif further outrageously claimed: “we are witnessing a use of force so callous, reckless, depraved and morally debilitating as to defy all concepts of human decency. As a strategy or tactic, such guile would be beneath any civilized people,” and “A brazen abuse of power and well-planned carefree warfare is on display against a defenseless civilian population. Israel’s political and military leadership seem bent on forcing Hamas to its knees by way of collective punishment of all the citizens of Gaza.”  

Sharif also demanded that U.S. policy must be changed, to Israel’s detriment, saying: “[America] cannot continue to be our posture to simply accept, adopt and support the Israeli point of view and corresponding policies.”

It is frankly frightening that Booker – who reportedly has presidential aspirations – praised Israel basher Carl Sharif as a great mentor and paragon of love.

All this left the impression that Booker is planting his loyalties within the anti-Israel Islamist camp.

The presence of extreme anti-Israel groups at Netroots should moreover have not been a surprise to Senator Booker.  The BDS umbrella group U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights was an official exhibitor at the Netroots convention.  

In addition, on the same day that Senator Booker spoke, Netroots featured a radical anti-Israel panel called “Progressives for Palestinian Rights” which, among other things, condemned U.S. recognition of Israel’s capital Jerusalem. The panel was moderated by the radical CAIR-San Francisco Executive Director Zahra Billoo, who jokingly commented that she participated in “all the ‘terrorist’ orgs you could imagine!”; promoted a poster saying “Build a Wall of Resistance; Don’t Talk to the FBI!”; frequently warns members of the Islamic community to not cooperate with law enforcement; accused U.S. troops of being terrorists; tweeted “Zionism IS racism”; falsely accused Israel of “apartheid and committing war crimes as a hobby; and much more.  (See Investigative Project on Terrorism’s report on Zahra Billoo)

The Netroots panel’s radical anti-Israel panelists, and the radical anti-Israel groups that they lead or work for, described on the panel’s website, included:  

  • Ahlam Jbara – CAIR-Chicago board member and former executive director; Arab American Action Network (AAAN) board member and former program director; and Bernie Sanders campaign Arab and Muslim American Outreach Director;  
  • Tabitha Mustafa – founder of BDS group New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee and a program associate at American Friends Service Committee; and 
  • Rafael Shimunov – former CCR communications assoc. director; radical Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) board member; a volunteer with another radical anti-Israel lawyers’ group, the National Lawyers Guild; an early leader of the radical anti-Israel group IfNotNow; and a founder of #JewsForLinda, supporting Israel-hater Linda Sarsour.  The panel’s website also brags that “Rafael has led successful actions helping to reverse NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s key support of a federal anti-BDS bill” and that he and his daughter defended the author of the “P is for Palestine” children’s book.   (The book stated that “I is for Intifada.”  Intifada refers to the slaughter of Jews.)  

It thus seems doubtful that Senator Booker didn’t know that he was posing holding up an anti-Israel sign, in the company of extremist anti-Israel leaders.  However, regardless of whether Senator Booker knew what he was doing, or whether it was a mistake, Booker needs to take very strong personal remedial action if he ever hopes to restore his credibility or win back the friends whom he betrayed when he sided with the disastrous Iran deal, against the safety of Americans, Jews, Israel and our other allies.