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Shmuley Boteach

  • The World Values Network: Founder

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Shmuley Boteach is a “celebrity rabbi” and former “spiritual advisor” to the late pop star Michael Jackson who has been an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. Known for his controversial “pro-Israel” advocacy, Boteach is the author of sensationalist books like Kosher Sexand Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer.[1]

Boteach is also the founder of The World Values Network, a group that is “based on the teachings of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and his passion for bringing universal Jewish values to mainstream American culture and beyond.”[2]The group is financed by billionaire casino mogul and “pro-Israel” ideologue Sheldon Adelson,[3]who once “pledged $1 million” to the World Values Network during a gala event[4]and claimed that Boteach is “one of the smartest guys I’ve met.”[5]Boteach also received a $500,000 Super PAC donation from Adelson during his unsuccessful 2012 campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey’s ninth congressional district.[6]

An ally of Sen. Ted Cruz, whom Boteach calls “a phenomenal friend of Israel,”[7]Boteach has also been a staunch defender of the Trump administration, particularly against charges of anti-Semitism. Shortly after Trump’s election, Boteach tweeted a photo of himself and Trump adviser Steven Bannon, the controversial former head of the alt-right news service Breitbart. He wrote: “Steve Bannon has shown great support for Israel & this administration promises to be very strong for the Jewish state.”[8]After the sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents early in the Trump presidency, Biotech admitted that Trump “was late to condemn the rising tide of antisemitism in America” but bizarrely countered that “President Obama never once criticized Iran’s threats of annihilation against the Jewish people.[9]

Attacks On High-Profile Figures

In December 2017, the New Zealand singer Lorde cancelled a planned concert in Tel Aviv, explicitly due to the large number of messages she got from supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS). Boteach took out a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post to rebuke the young pop star. In addition to calling Lorde a “bigot” and an “anti-Semite,” Boteach wrote, “While Lorde claims to be concerned with human rights she hypocritically chose to proceed with her two concerts in Putin’s Russia, despite his support for Assad’s genocidal regime which has already claimed the lives of over 500,000 innocents, and Russia’s own endless litany of human rights abuses.”[10]

In response, the group Artists for Palestine published a letter supporting Lorde that was signed by some 100 celebrities including John Cusack, Julie Christie, Angela Davis, Brian Eno, Roger Waters, Alice Walker, Peter Gabriel, Viggo Mortenson, David Morrisey, and Mark Ruffalo. The letter stated, “Shmuley Boteach … supports Israel’s illegal settlements and wrote last month on Breitbart to thank Donald Trump for “electrifying the world” with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in defiance of international law. He has nothing to teach artists about human rights. We deplore the bullying tactics being used to defend injustice against Palestinians and to suppress an artist’s freedom of conscience. We support Lorde’s right to take a stand.”[11]

In another incident, Boteach attacked several conservative Jewish leaders for meeting with the Emir of Qatar as part of that country’s attempt to reach out to key figures in the U.S. policy debate to present its side of the dispute between it and Saudi Arabia. One observer asked about the Qatari outreach, said: “Is there really some concern that these people, who have consistently defended Israel at every turn, will suddenly be taken in by a slick Qatari message?… It’s hard to imagine that is what the Israeli government is concerned about. It is more likely that Israel is concerned not with these specific meetings, but with Qatar’s broader ‘charm offensive,’ and the conversation it threatens to ignite in the United States.”[12]

In a January 2018 open letter he published in the Jewish magazine Algemeiner, Boteach wrote: “Don’t be fooled by the fact that some Jews have been willing to accept hefty retainer fees to lobby other Jews on your behalf. They are not your friends or allies. They are opportunists. So how can you trust them? If they’re prepared to sell out their own people, just imagine how quickly they’ll turn on you. Once someone demonstrates that they have no allegiances, then they are fundamentally untrustworthy. The same can be said of the Jews who have visited Qatar or agreed to do business deals with you. You may have made backroom deals with them, but this will also backfire.”[13]

It was a measure of Boteach’s declining influence even among conservative Jews that there was no response from those he attacked until some of them were specifically approached by the moderate Jewish publication, the Forward. Journalist Batya Ungar-Sargon cited an anonymous source saying, “The Qataris themselves nixed Boteach from a list of prospective visitors. ‘They did not find him to be credible and didn’t believe he had a significant following or constituency,’ the source said. Furthermore, ‘The Qataris did not feel he could be trusted to keep sensitive issues to himself.’”[14]

This was not the first time Boteach had attacked leading Jewish figures. In November 2015, Boteach took out an ad in the New York Timesthat a former head of both the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America said “could only have drawn its inspiration from the PR skills perfected by Hitler’s propaganda chief.”[15] The ad targeted comments Secretary of State John Kerry made about the negative effects of Israeli settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian territories. It claimed that Kerry “appears to justify the spilling of Jewish blood” and accused the Secretary of States of echoing “virulent anti-Semitic libel” in stating that the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territories could turn Israel into an apartheid state.[16]

One observer quipped: “Boteach fails to mention that this is a danger warned against by such well-known anti-Semites as David Ben-Gurion, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, and Shimon Peres, all previous Israeli prime ministers.”[17]

Attack On Natalie Portman

In April 2018, Boteach drew attention by attacking U.S.-Israeli dual citizen Natalie Portman for her decision not attend an award ceremony where she was to be honored at an event that was also to feature Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Portman wrote, “I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. By the same token, I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation. I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”[18]

Boteach took out another full page New York Times ad to go after Portman, writing, “Natalie seems to have no problems with actual despotic regimes. In 2014, Natalie attended the Shanghai International Film Festival. Then, in 2016, she was featured at the Beijing International Film Festival, despite the fact that both events were sponsored and hosted by the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT)—best known as the censorship enforces and propaganda machine of the Chinese Communist Government. The body gained notoriety for its 2013 broadcast of prisoners being led to their execution. … What would lead Natalie to embrace some of the world’s most authoritarian offenders and ignore state-sponsored censorship while announcing a boycott of democratic Israel on its 70th birthday?”[19]

Commented journalist Eli Clifton, “Boteach could pose some of these same questions to his patron [Adelson], whose operations in Macau, a Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) just posted net revenues of $2.16 billion in the first quarter of 2018.” Clifton also noted, “Adelson had to curry favor with Beijing in order to get his operations in Macau off the ground. A 2004 lawsuit filed by Richard Suen, a Hong Kong-based businessman, provided evidence that Adelson went to extraordinary lengths to kill congressional opposition to Beijing’s Olympic bid in order to secure its casino license in Macau.”[20]

Attack On Susan RIce

During the Obama presidency, Boteach’s World Values Network attacked the administration in controversial full-page ads in the New York Times. One such ad, which ran in the Times in February 2015, attacked President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice over her comments that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to give a speech to Congress lambasting the Iran nuclear negotiations without having first consulted the White House was “destructive” to the U.S.-Israeli relationship.[21]

“Susan Rice has a blind spot: Genocide,” the advertisement’s title read. It accused Rice of being “no stranger to questionable mischaracterization of facts” and of having a “pattern of callous disregard for genocide,” referencing comments Rice allegedly made about the Rwandan genocide. The ad stated: “Ms. Rice may be blind to the issue of genocide but should treat our ally with at least as much diplomatic courtesy as she does the committed enemy of both our nations.”[22]

The ad was quickly condemned by Jewish groups from across the political spectrum, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, The Israel Project, and the liberal J Street.[23]The criticism spurred Boteach to claim that his intention was not to attack Rice, saying in a statement: “Our disagreement with Ms. Rice is strictly over policy. It was construed by some as a personal attack that is certainly and absolutely not its intent.”[24]

Anti-Liberal and Hawkish Views

Boteach was a vociferous critic of President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy, in particular towards Israel and Iran. He is a supporter of illegal Israeli settlements, writing in 2010 that one of Israel’s “greatest wonders” was in the settlements surrounding the Palestinian city of Hebron, which he described as located in “what the world calls the West Bank and the Bible calls Judea and Samaria.” He wrote in the same piece that the world “derisively describes” the “residents of Hebron” as “settlers.”[25]

In a May 2011 op-ed for the Huffington Post, Boteach accused Obama of “scandalous behavior” and of “treating Israel contemptuously” for reiterating in 2011 the longstanding U.S. position of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[26]He opined in the same op-ed: “For President Obama and Secretary Clinton to treat Israel with such disdain, and handle its elected officials as if they are naughty school children, is disgusting.”[27]

Boteach was also an ardent opponent of the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute. When negotiations between Iran and six world powers resulted in a historic agreement in 2015, Boteach denounced the final deal as “a pact with an apocalyptic regime who are calling for the death of America.”[28]

More recently, during a January 2016 interview with the Jewish Chronicle Online, Boteach bemoaned that liberal students today prefer “death cults” like Hamas and “barbarous” regimes like the government in Iran.” “The world has gone mad,” he told his interviewer.[29]

 

SOURCES

[1]David Weigel, “The Kosher Candidate,” Slate, August 21, 2012, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/08/rabbi_shmuley_boteach_is_banking_on_sheldon_adelson_s_super_pac_to_help_him_become_a_new_jersey_congressman_.html.

[2]The World Values Network, “About,” https://worldvalues.us/about/.

[3]Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.

[4]Katie Zezima, “How much does lunch with Sheldon Adelson cost?” The Washington Post, May 29, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/05/29/how-much-does-lunch-with-sheldon-adelson-cost/.

[5]Katie Zezima, “How much does lunch with Sheldon Adelson cost?” The Washington Post, May 29, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/05/29/how-much-does-lunch-with-sheldon-adelson-cost/.

[6]David Weigel, “The Kosher Candidate,” Slate, August 21, 2012, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/08/rabbi_shmuley_boteach_is_banking_on_sheldon_adelson_s_super_pac_to_help_him_become_a_new_jersey_congressman_.html

[7]Betsy Woodruff, “Ted Cruz’s Favorite Rabbi,” The Daily Beast, November 29, 2015,http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/29/ted-cruz-s-favorite-rabbi.html.

[8]Elad Nehoral, “Boteach’s Bannon Selfie: Rabbis and the Alt-right Don’t Mix,” Haaretz, December 12, 2016, https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/boteachs-bannon-selfie-rabbis-and-the-alt-right-don-t-mix-1.5472638

[9]Shmuley Boteach, “No Holds Barred: Donald Trump and the Smear of Antisemitism,” Jerusalem Post, February 27, 2016, https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/No-Holds-Barred-Donald-Trump-and-the-smear-of-antisemitism-482758

[10]TOI Staff, “Rabbi calls Lorde a bigot in full-page Washington Post ad,” Times of Israel, January 1, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/rabbi-calls-lorde-a-bigot-in-full-page-washington-post-ad/

[11]Artists for Palestine, “Lorde’s artistic right to cancel gig in Tel Aviv,” The Guardian, January 5, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/05/lordes-artistic-right-to-cancel-gig-in-tel-aviv

[12]Mitchell Plitnick, “Israeli Fear Of Qatari Outreach To US Jews,” Lobelog, February 14, 2018, https://lobelog.com/israeli-fear-of-qatari-outreach-to-us-jews/

[13]Shmuley Boteach, “An Open Letter to the Emir of Qatar,” Algemeiner, January 15, 2018, https://www.algemeiner.com/2018/01/15/an-open-letter-to-the-emir-of-qatar/

[14]Batya Ungar-Sargon, “Is Shmuley Boteach Attacking Qatar Trip Because He Wasn’t Invited?” The Forward, February 12, 2018, https://forward.com/opinion/394182/is-shmuley-boteach-attacking-qatar-trip-because-he-wasnt-invited/

[15]Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.

[16]Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.

[17]Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.

[18]Natalie Portman, Instagram, April 20, 2018, https://www.instagram.com/p/BhzyyPWhnVf/

[19]Eli Clifton, “Shmuley Boteach’s China Hypocrisy,” Lobelog, April 30, 2018, https://lobelog.com/shmuley-boteachs-china-hypocrisy/

[20]Eli Clifton, “Shmuley Boteach’s China Hypocrisy,” Lobelog, April 30, 2018, https://lobelog.com/shmuley-boteachs-china-hypocrisy/

[21]Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.

[22]Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.

[23]Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.

[24]Jill Jacobs, “Shmuley Boteach isn’t ‘America’s rabbi,’” The Washington Post, March 4, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/03/04/shmuley-boteach-isnt-americas-rabbi/.

[25]Shmuley Boteach, “A Spiritual Night in Hebron,” The Huffington Post, September 29, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/a-spiritual-night-in-hebr_b_744577.html.

[26]Shmuley Boteach, “Obama’s Bullying of Israel,” The Huffington Post, May 25, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obamas-bullying-of-israel_b_504291.html.

[27]Shmuley Boteach, “Obama’s Bullying of Israel,” The Huffington Post, May 25, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obamas-bullying-of-israel_b_504291.html.

[28]Shmuley Boteach, “Obama Compares Iran-Deal Opponents to the Mullahs,” The Huffington Post, August 12, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obama-compares-irandeal-o_b_7977136.html.

[29]Naomi Firsht, “It’s very hard to be a proud Jew here,” Jewish Chronicle Online, January 4, 2016, http://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/lifestyle-features/151852/it’s-very-hard-be-a-proud-jew-here.

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Sources



[2] The World Values Network, “About,” https://worldvalues.us/about/.


[3] Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.


[4] Katie Zezima, “How much does lunch with Sheldon Adelson cost?” The Washington Post, May 29, 2015,https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/05/29/how-much-does-lunch-with-sheldon-adelson-cost/.


[5] Katie Zezima, “How much does lunch with Sheldon Adelson cost?” The Washington Post, May 29, 2015,https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/05/29/how-much-does-lunch-with-sheldon-adelson-cost/.



[7] Betsy Woodruff, “Ted Cruz’s Favorite Rabbi,” The Daily Beast, November 29, 2015,http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/29/ted-cruz-s-favorite-rabbi.html.


[8] Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015,http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.


[9] Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015,http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.


[10] Jerusalem Post, “Jewish groups line up to denounce Boteach ad on Susan Rice,” March 1, 2015,http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-groups-line-up-to-denounce-Boteach-ad-on-Susan-Rice-392519.


[11] Jill Jacobs, “Shmuley Boteach isn’t ‘America’s rabbi,’” The Washington Post, March 4, 2015,https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/03/04/shmuley-boteach-isnt-americas-rabbi/.


[12] Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.


[13] Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.


[14] Henry Siegman, “Violence, Moral Equivalence, and the End of a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine,” The Nation, November 24, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/violence-moral-equivalence-and-the-end-of-a-two-state-solution-in-israel-palestine/.


[15] Shmuley Boteach, “A Spiritual Night in Hebron,” The Huffington Post, September 29, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/a-spiritual-night-in-hebr_b_744577.html.


[16] Shmuley Boteach, “Obama’s Bullying of Israel,” The Huffington Post, May 25, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obamas-bullying-of-israel_b_504291.html.


[17] Shmuley Boteach, “Obama’s Bullying of Israel,” The Huffington Post, May 25, 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obamas-bullying-of-israel_b_504291.html.


[18] Shmuley Boteach, “Obama Compares Iran-Deal Opponents to the Mullahs,” The Huffington Post, August 12, 2015,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/obama-compares-irandeal-o_b_7977136.html.


[19] Naomi Firsht, “It’s very hard to be a proud Jew here,” Jewish Chronicle Online, January 4, 2016,http://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/lifestyle-features/151852/it’s-very-hard-be-a-proud-jew-here.

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Shmuley Boteach Résumé

AFFILIATIONS
The World Values Network: Founder
Oxford University L’Chaim Society: Founder
GOVERNMENT
2012 Republican Congressional Candidate

Related:

Shmuley Boteach News Feed

No Holds Barred: Cory Booker refuses to condemn Farrakhan or Iran at ADL summit - The Jerusalem Post - Israel NewsShmuley Boteach - The Jerusalem Post mobile websiteTurning a corner - Jordan TimesTurning a Corner in Public Opinion toward Israeli Occupation - LobeLogWhy Roseanne Barr and Shmuley Boteach need each other - JTA NewsTurning a corner in the Palestinian struggle for justice - Daily TimesWas Rabbi Shmuley Hacked By Qatar? - ForwardRoseanne Barr, in second Rabbi Shmuley Boteach podcast, says planning trip to Israel - Cleveland Jewish NewsWas Qatar Behind the Hack of Shmuley Boteach? - Tablet MagazineRabbi Shmuley Boteach, Author at Jewish Journal - Jewish JournalRabbi Shmuley Boteach Says Roseanne Deserves Forgiveness - TMZNo Holds Barred: Politicizing the massacre of Jews must stop - The Jerusalem Post - Israel NewsRoseanne sobbed and apologized about racist tweet in unaired interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach - HaaretzRoseanne Bar Responds to Heart Attack Rumors With Bizarre New Pic - KPRC Click2HoustonRoseanne Barr defends her Valerie Jarrett tweet, then veers even further off script at rabbi event - JTA NewsShmuley Boteach Stresses Roseanne's Jewish Repentance - ForwardNo Holds Barred: Ronald Lauder treats Israelis like misbehaving children - The Jerusalem Post - Israel NewsJewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: December 7, 2018 - The Times of IsraelWho Owns the Truth? - Jewish JournalAmerica’s next ambassador to the U.N. - The Jerusalem Post - Israel News

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