Dinner with Ahmadinejad

A 'Rabbi for Obama' once had dinner with Iran's anti-Semitic president

Lynn Gottlieb /
August 23, 2012

A Republican Jewish group is calling on the Obama campaign to distance itself from a controversial rabbi who has met with anti-Semitic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and who sits on the board of an organization that has been listed as one of the "Top Ten Anti-Israel" groups by the Anti-Defamation League.

The rabbi in question is Lynn Gottlieb, who was listed as one of 613 "Rabbis for Obama," a new Obama campaign effort to highlight its support among Jewish religious leaders.

Gottlieb dined with the Iranian president in 2008, and was among the first American rabbis to travel to the Islamic republic, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Gottlieb said that Americans should not pay attention to Ahmadinejad, despite his genocidal rhetoric.

"He's the mouthpiece—we spend way too much time focusing on him," the Jerusalem Post quoted her as saying in 2008.

She advocated that the U.S. government sit down for talks with Iran.

"We were all there for the sake of pressuring the US government to engage in direct dialogue and conversation," she said, according to the Jerusalem Post. "The emphasis shouldn't be on [Ahmadinejad] per se."

Gottlieb, a devotee of the far-left J Street, also sits on the board of an organization that the Anti-Defamation League has dubbed one of the "Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups In America."

The group, Jewish Voice for Peace, routinely criticizes the Jewish state and advocates in favor of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which wages economic warfare on Israel by boycotting goods produced in the country.

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a statement that "there can be only two explanations for her inclusion in the list: 1) the Obama campaign failed to properly vet the rabbis on their official list, or 2) they did properly vet the rabbis and chose to ignore Rabbi Gottlieb's radical views."

Team Obama lacks judgment when it comes to Israel, Brooks asserted.

"This speaks volumes about the Obama campaign's judgment and the RJC calls on the Obama campaign to immediately remove her from any formal or official involvement in the campaign," he said.

The Obama campaign and the National Jewish Democratic Council did not respond to requests for comment on Gottlieb. Team Obama's Jewish outreach efforts are operated by Ira Forman, the NJDC's former chief.

Gottlieb, a staunch supporter of BDS, gave a video tribute to the anti-Israel movement in 2010.

Gottlieb, who signs onto the video by giving the traditional Arabic greeting, "Salaam Alaikum," or "Peace be unto you," explains why Jews should boycott Israel.

"I believe the time now is to support Palestinian in their call for Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions … to pressure the Israeli government and people to cease and desist from the occupation of Palestinian lands," she says. "I urge you all to consider boycott."

Gottlieb says that BDS is the best method to pressure Israel into making concessions in the peace process.

"For me as a person committed to nonviolence for the past 40 years, I have seen this conflict try to be resolved by negotiation yet every peace plan has led to more and more occupation of Palestinian land," she says. "I believe it is time to adopt the time honored tool and strategy of boycott. Boycotting governments, corporations and individuals that are somehow profiting from the illegal seizure from land."