Rightwing rabbi Shmuley Boteach writes in the Jerusalem Post that “Israel haters… follow my trail on the Internet like dogs in heat.” But Boteach seems to seek the attention: his latest encounter with critics of Israel was on Madison Avenue last Saturday, when he approached protesters outside a store associated with an Israeli business in the occupied West Bank and taunted the group by loudly celebrating Israel and denouncing Hamas. His children joined in his chants.
Boteach broke off his shouts when he saw that he was being video’d on a cellphone. Now he has put up a piece on the incident at the Times of Israel, saying that he stopped shouting for religious reasons, because he was being video’d on the Sabbath.
I started saying “Down with Hamas which allows honor killings of innocent Palestinian women. Down with Hamas that slaughters innocent Palestinian gay men. Down with the Palestinian…. ” and I was about to say “… Authority for refusing to go to elections in 10 years and creating a dictatorship, robbing the Palestinian people of their freedom” when I saw that someone was filming me on the Sabbath.
We’re no religious experts, but that excuse sounds a little flimsy. If you watch the video, at :27, Boteach sees that he’s being taped, but he merely moves out of the cameraperson’s way and keeps shouting. Even as he continues to celebrate Israel, a guy in a leather jacket on the street is plainly taping the demonstration (1:05).
Boteach also says that the protesters cursed at him.
Instantly, all the protestors forgot about Leviev and turned their ire toward me. I was now the devil. They were shouting at me, abusing me. “F—ck off. Go F—ck yourself.”
His representation of the event is not borne out on the video. If the ire was so instant you would hear the shouts and curses. You can’t hear curses on the video. We were told that someone said “Fuck Kahane!” but no one directed a curse at Boteach. Patrick Connors attended the demonstration and he says he heard no curses, and neither did others he asked. “Abe says he was within 2-3 feet most of the time he was there and heard no such thing. Anna says she was in the middle of the Adalah-NY group and did not hear that. The tone of the response to him was to chant and sing, like the tone of the protest in general. People sang fun and funny parody carols for an hour and a half. They didn’t come to swear at people.”
What is this? Nuremberg 1934? Absolutely reprehensible…
Jews of the world. Wake up. There has never been an assault on us like this in our lifetimes. And we are allowing it. Through our timidity and through closing our eyes and pretending not to see, it’s growing. Our enemies are arraying against us. They have substituted anti-Semitism for Anti-Israelism. But it’s the same sentiment.
Jew-hatred, pure and simple.
On his twitter feed, Boteach says: “AN OMINOUS BOYCOTT OF JEWISH BUSINESSES IN NEW YORK CITY. An Anti-Jewish Mob Shouts at [me]”
This is the biggest lie in his article. If developing illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land against international law were considered ordinary Boteach might have a point, but it’s not. As Adalah explains about its boycott of Lev Leviev businesses:
Leviev’s companies are currently building homes in the Israeli settlement of Gilo and developing the Zufim settlement on the land of the West Bank village of Jayyous. They have built thousands of settlement homes for Jews only on Palestinian land in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. All Israeli settlements violate international law as well as seize vital Palestinian land, dividing the West Bank into disconnected bantustans, reminiscent of apartheid South Africa.
It’s amazing that Boteach commands such broad respect, given the degree of invective and misrepresentation. But he does have the respect of many important folks, from Samantha Power to Elie Wiesel to Noah Feldman. He ends his op ed by reaching out to the actress Scarlett Johansson, whom he intends to honor for sticking by a settlement business she had endorsed, SodaStream. He writes:
Scarlett, if you’re out there, please come to New York and accept. The dinner is on 3 June, 2015.
As we’ve pointed out before, Boteach is a celebrity hound. If Johansson comes to his event, she is sure to get the Charlize Theron treatment, having her picture tweeted by Boteach over and over, enhancing her reputation.