Colonel Greg Raths: A true friend of the Jewish people
It is not uncommon for non-Jewish politicians to not completely understand Jewish politics. Most often politicians whom are not fully invested in our culture and not completely understanding the complex nature of the Jews, would say or communicate raw messages that we would call or consider as anti-semetic. Though, the message or the individual making such statements may ignorantly not understand what they are actually saying and not be aware how we would take such statements. Remember, if one comment defines a politicians life and career then most all Israeli and American politicians, including the current American president, whom has walked back anti-semetic comments before, would never hold office.
Colonel Greg Raths, a war hero and a longtime local politician of my city, Mission Viejo, California made statements in front of a community event of local Islamic leaders. His statements made ignorantly and raw were indeed inappropriate and from our view very loose. He said openly what many think privately. Unfortunately, the audience could not wait for the event to end to broadcast his comments for the purpose of hurting his campaign and his reputation personally. Further, it was wrong of Greg to say what he did, and has since apologized and realized what he said was not appropriate.
I myself, unlike other rabbinical leaders, I speak up when I see right or wrong. Other local rabbinical leaders hide behind their businesses and do not defend or openly support Torah laws relating to local and national politics. I choose to speak up because our country and nation, including Hashem requires us to make Torah decisions. Raths, a longtime friend of my family, has enjoyed Shabbos by us, attended my sons bar mitzvah in Mission Viejo at Congregation Pirchei Shoshanim, supported our efforts to help local veterans, delivering food to needy holocaust survivors, participated in Jewish holiday events in the community and openly conveyed his love and support for Israel and the Jewish people. I am not advocating that Greg is a perfect man, I as a former Air Force chaplain know what the pilot culture is and the ego that can come from such positions. But, Greg has developed over the last 20 years since his retirement and matured into a solid conservative, a real genuine Trump conservative that loves the USA and Orange County.
Though his comments were inappropriate, I will give him a pass. I took a call from him before Shabbos and we spoke about this issue directly. He honestly wasn’t aware he said anything wrong and I know this to be true. I can say this because I know his heart and the man. The typical detractors are going to enjoy blasting him for it, including the liberal Jewish community, but the reality is those who go after him on this issue would not be voting for him anyways. This I know to be fact and true, he will stand with Israel, support the foreign aid and defense of Israel, support the Jewish communities and Jewish people in the USA, defend the first and second amendments and also continue to hold to total conservative values in any position he holds especially the central Jewish value of supporting life of the unborn child.
Rabbi Jeff (Ari) Montanari
Congregation Pirchei Shoshanim
Mission Viejo, CA