New Jersey Democratic congressional candidate Imani Oakley. (Screen grab/YouTube) (Screen grab/YouTube)
Imani Oakley

Too funny! New Jersey congressional candidate should have realized she was organizing a fundraising event with a parody Twitter account.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

There were plenty of obvious warning signs that “Rabbi Linda Goldstein” was a Twitter account not to be taken seriously. The three most glaring examples?

– There are no Jews in the Gaza Strip requiring a “Chief Rabbi of Gaza” as described in the Twitter profile.

–  A June 21 tweet expressing delight at getting permission from Hamas to build a Jewish ghetto in Gaza.

–  A clearly photoshopped image of “Goldstein” posing with a purported Chanukah “Menorah for Justice in Palestine” made from intact Qassem rockets.

But one progressive Democratic candidate vying to join “The Squad” plowed ahead. That’s what led Imani Oakley, a progressive congressional wannabe from Newark, and her campaign manager, Maita Lockhart, to organize a fundraiser with “Goldstein,” according to the New York Post.

It turns out Gaza’s would-be chief rabbi is really a New York-area real estate lawyer named Michael. He didn’t identify his last name because, according to the Post, he “fears retribution.”

Michael told the Post that he originally created the account to mock far-left, anti-Zionists Jews.

“I am making fun of the five percent of Jews that hate Israel,” he said. “I created this personality that shows how reductive and absurd these people are.”

In November, “Goldstein” reached out to Oakley’s campaign, offering to host a fundraiser in Gaza. Would Oakley be interested in attending in-person or by Zoom?

“There are several influential Jewish-Americans in Gaza who can provide plenty of help back in her district, including contributions and media placement,” the email to the Oakley campaign said.

It’s worth noting that Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005. Then-prime minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally evicted 8,000 Jews from 21 settlements. The only Israelis known to be living in the Gaza Strip are Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both mentally unstable young men who wandered across the border in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Lockhart confirmed to the Post that she had been in touch with “Goldstein” but refused to acknowledge she was taken in.

“We weren’t going to host anything in Gaza that was obviously out of the question,” Lockhart told the paper. “I endeavored to respond and go through the process, but at no point did we commit to doing something.”

Shortly before the Post‘s article was published, Oakley tweeted, “Let me be clear: no political attacks will stop me from defending the humanity and dignity of the Palestinian people, fighting against human rights abuses by the Israeli government, and demanding an end to apartheid.”

Parody Twitter accounts can be very funny. But the ignorance displayed by Oakley and her campaign is no laughing matter.

In a May 2021 commentary published on the Middle East Eye website, Oakley urged the Biden administration to halt U.S. aid to Israel, accused the Jewish state of apartheid and denounced the “illegal blockade” of Gaza, among other anti-Israel actions.

In a July interview with a local progressive paper, The Indypendent, Oakley expressed her preference for a single bi-national state of Jews and Palestinians.

On November 29, the UN Day of Solidarity With the Palestinians, Oakley tweeted that she was “proud to stand against apartheid and proud to fight for justice in Palestine.” That was the day in 1947 when the UN General Assembly endorsed a recommendation to divide British Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Arab states — the first two-state solution. The Jewish establishment accepted the proposal but the Arab world rejected it.

Everybody is entitled to their views on the Mideast conflict. But those views have to be grounded in facts, and all the more so for anyone who wants to become an elected official serving the nation in Congress.

A well-informed activist speaking out about Israel and the Palestinians would know that the Gaza Strip is judenfrei and that Gaza has no chief rabbis or Jewish ghettoes.

Oakley’s ignorance is frightening.

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