Dershowitz defends Booker after photo with BDS activists

At the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans on Friday, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was pictured posing with anti-Israel activists while holding a poster that criticized Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank. “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” the sign in Booker’s hands read. The image was shared on Twitter by @US_Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a pro-Palestinian group that endorses the BDS movement.

Booker’s Senate spokesperson Jeff Giertz insisted that the Senator did not realize the poster’s reference to Israel. “Just before delivering a speech in New Orleans, Senator Booker was approached by dozens of people for photos,” Giertz explained in a statement on Friday afternoon. “In one instance, amid the rush, he was posing for a photo and was passed a sign to hold — he didn’t have time to read the sign, and from his cursory glance he thought it was talking about Mexico and didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel. He hopes for a day when there will be no need for security barriers in the State of Israel, but while active terrorist organizations threaten the safety of the people living in Israel, security barriers are unfortunate but necessary to protect human lives.”

Professor Alan Dershowitz tells us… “As someone who is constantly asked to pose for photos with strangers, I understand how Senator Booker was tricked into posing with a sign whose implications he did not immediately comprehend. I have known Senator Booker for many years and have discussed with him many aspects of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. I am confident that he fully understands Israel’s need to protect its citizens from terrorism. We share a hope that just as the barrier dividing Jerusalem came down in 1967, so too the other barriers will someday be able to be safely removed, if and when terrorism against Israelis ends.”

— Dershowitz added that he doesn’t see this picture become an issue in 2020 should Booker decide to run for president.

Noah Pollak tells us… “Senator Booker’s explanation for why he posed with BDS activists is not credible, and so his judgment on foreign policy will be an issue in any future election. If he wants to begin repairing the damage, he can argue to the progressives he appears so interested in courting that their contempt for Israel and support for BDS is unacceptable. But I am sure he will never publicly criticize the kind of people with whom he just posed with. That would require political courage.”

A veteran of Democratic presidential races, who asked to remain anonymous, tells us that Booker could get a one-time pass over this ‘stupid’ move. And while it’s possible that Booker didn’t read the sign, it’s also possible that “having never been confronted with a split-second decision about angering a fan, Booker didn’t know what to do,” the Dem strategist said.

“This ain’t baseball — if there’s a strike two, then he’s out,” he added. “It will certainly be possible to run for president in 2020 as a pro-Palestinian Democrat — we’ll probably see more than one candidate do that and it’s definitely where a lot of Democratic primary voters are. But it isn’t possible to be pro-Palestinian if you’ve already been co-president of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s L’Chaim Society.”

Ann Lewis, a former White House Communications Director, emails us… “I have too much confidence in voters to think that a photo snapped in 15 seconds — and explained 15 minutes later — will have a lasting effect.”

Democratic pollster and campaign strategist Mark Mellman: “Booker’s long and strong record of support for Israel says a lot more than a mischievously placed sign handed to him as he was going to a podium to speak. Some Israel critics tried to misuse Booker and he did not let it stand, making clear immediately that Israel has the right and responsibility to protect itself.”

Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush: “Maybe it will hurt him with everyone. His explanation that he hadn’t read the sign suggests he doesn’t have the courage of someone else’s convictions.”

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted on Friday: “Booker’s office issued a statement saying he was handed the sign amidst a crowd and did not read it. These things do happen to politicians. I accept his explanation.”

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