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Rabbi Shmuley considers running for office

JTA

December 31, 2009 | 1:29 pm

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says he is considering a run for public office after local officials failed to prevent a Libyan ambassador from moving in next door to him.

In an opinion piece published Thursday by JTA, Boteach said he was outraged that Libya’s U.N. ambassador, Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, was permitted to take up residence in Englewood, N.J. The rabbi, best known for his book “Kosher Sex” and counseling the late pop star Michael Jackson, said that having the diplomat as his next-door neighbor has him angry enough to launch a career in politics.

“For the first time in my life, I find myself contemplating a run for elective office. The reason is simple: The Talmud declares, ‘In a place where there are no men stand up and become one,’” Boteach wrote in his JTA Op-Ed. “If Gadhafi’s envoy remains my next-door neighbor with the tacit blessing of my elected leaders, I will do my best to unseat them by every legal means necessary.”

This summer, Boteach played a lead role in the successful campaign to keep Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi from staying at the Libyan-owned property in Englewood during the U.N. General Assembly. But Shalgham recently moved to the property, according to a report in the New Jersey Jewish Standard.

Boteach said he was infuriated when his friend and congressman, Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), was quoted as saying, “I hope everyone will be appropriately good neighbors.”

“Is he seriously asking me to borrow a cup of sugar from a man whose government murdered American servicemen while they danced at a disco?” Boteach wrote, adding, “We must also begin representing ourselves.”

But in a statement issued to JTA, Boteach did not identify the specific office he was eyeing.

“My consideration of a possible run for elected office, which is currently in its earliest stages of review, revolves around my profound disappointment in my city’s unwillingness to take action against Gadhafi’s ambassador being my next-door neighbor and the Libyan compound not contributing a penny in local tax,” Boteach said. “In addition, I am a passionate advocate of school-choice. Religious parents in my area, both Jewish and non-Jewish, can no longer afford the astronomical New Jersey real estate taxes, not a penny of which goes to their children’s education. Public offices where I would be able to impact on these vital issues is what I am considering.”

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