Republican congressional candidate Rabbi Shmuley Boteach called on the Libyan government to sell its Englewood mansion next door to his home and donate the proceeds to rebuilding the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which was stormed by militants in an attack that killed the American ambassador and members of his staff.
“That would be an incredible gesture to show the American people that the Libyan people care,” the 9th District candidate said at a rally Thursday.
Boteach condemned violent outbursts sparked by an online video mocking Muslims and depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a child-molester. J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya, was killed amid angry protests over the video.
While the motivations and timing of the apparently well-planned attack in Benghazi remained murky, Boteach said he was fed up with official statements on the video.
“I am tired of hearing American officials waste their time condemning this film,” he said.
“There’s a lot of sewage that comes out of the lens of a camera, but to use that as an excuse for murder is repugnant in the extreme and what we ought to be condemning right now is the cold-blooded murder of an American ambassador,” Boteach said.
Libya should sell the East Hill property, which Boteach estimated would go for at least $10 million, and donate the funds to the state department and the families of those killed in Benghazi, he said. Still, the rabbi did not fault Libyan officials in the deaths, but raised questions about the response of security forces.
“What happened in Benghazi is one of the most disgusting modern international incidents that I have ever witnessed,” he said.
Boteach said the estate’s tax-exempt status should be revoked and chastised the residents for not flying flags at half-mast in honor of the slain Americans. Officials at the Libyan Mission in New York City could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
The rabbi waged a public battle in 2009 to block then-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from staying at the sprawling estate during the U.N. General Assembly. It is not clear who has been occupying the mansion since Gaddafi’s death and the collapse of his regime.
“This property should not be here,” Boteach said. “Englewood is not the United Nations.”
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