Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: ‘Ben Shapiro only fired Candace Owens because of me’ – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on June 7, 2024

Living in New York City, I have had the opportunity to cross paths with many influential and well-known figures in the Jewish world. Over the past few years, it has been a tremendous privilege to become close to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who is known as Americas rabbi.

Boteach is an eloquent public speaker and writer, as well as a popular television and radio host. He is the author of over 30 books, including The Israel Warrior: Fighting Back for the Jewish State from Campus to Street Corner.

For two seasons, he hosted the prime-time reality television series Shalom in the Home, which was one of the highest-rated shows on TLC. Boteach has met a myriad of celebrities, from Elie Wiesel to Michael Jackson, Pamela Anderson and Roseanne Barr, and has provided them with sound advice and guidance. At the same time, he has debated bigots and fought for the Jewish people in various arenas, from the halls of Oxford University to Times Square.

No matter where he fights the battle for Israel, Boteach is a force to be reckoned with. He has been described as one of the most influential Jews today. The Washington Post referred to him as the most famous rabbi in America; Newsweek named him one of the 10 most influential rabbis in the United States; and The Jerusalem Post named him one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world.

Boteach, who is married to Debbie, with whom he had nine children, is the founder and executive director of The World Values Network, a Jewish and Zionist nonprofit organization that he established in 2007. The mission of the organization is to disseminate universal Jewish values in politics, culture, and media. The organization is founded on the belief that Judaism, with its emphasis on improving the world and celebrating life, can help America address some of its greatest challenges, such as high divorce rates, teenager alienation, depression, and increasing ignorance and materialism.

It holds an annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards gala, which has honored figures in the fields of politics, business, journalism, and entertainment who have promoted Israel and Jewish values. With the rise in antisemitism across America and the world, Boteach has taken it upon himself to fight the PR battle for Israel and the Jewish nation on a daily basis and does not show any signs of slowing down. I recently had the chance to speak to him regarding the state of the world today and what must be done for the nation of Israel to win the battle against bigotry and antisemitism.

Thats an excellent question. You would have thought that a Holocaust-level day of extinction in Israel would have reminded the world of the tragedies of the Holocaust and there would be more sympathy. Instead, we saw precisely the opposite. I guess the answer is that antisemitism was always lurking underneath, and it took some explosion to allow it to be manifest. For example, I had always heard that X, Facebook, and Instagram were sewers of antisemitism, and I had seen a lot of it. But, forget about it. What I have seen in my own interactions with the, lets say four to five thousand messages that I get per a day, the antisemitism is so extreme, the bile is so poisonous, the attacks are so personal, that I have seen a whole new side of the world that I had never seen before. If its true (as they say) that 70 percent of the Internet is promiscuous according to statistics, I wouldnt even say thats true. I would say that 70 percent of the Internet is antisemitism. Its astonishing how bad it is.

My answer to the students is the same as the answer to the question of why I debate with people like Alex Jones, Mohammed Hijab, Cenk Uygur, and Norman Finkelstein. Youre not going to change any of their minds and almost any of their followers minds. I mean, most of the followers of the people I just mentioned are antisemites, white supremacists, Islamists, etc. Theyre the worst antisemites from the extreme Right and the extreme Left, so why debate them? The answer is that the Jews are watching, and right now we are a very frightened people. So when one Jew gets up on TV or on a video platform or on a podcast and shows that he or she is not going to be afraid of these guys and will debate with them, it sets an example. I may not change any minds, but I will demonstrate fearlessness. Then suddenly, all the Jews that are watching are thinking, Yeah, why am I afraid? What am I afraid of? I can also fight. Thats my message to the Jewish college students. The Jewish college students are so much more powerful than they realize. For example, take NYU, where my son was an undergraduate a few years ago [now hes in the IDF fighting in the war], which passed two BDS proposals to have NYU divest from Israel. How many students passed it? Only 60 members from SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine]. There were 6,000 Jewish undergraduates, the largest Jewish population of any university in the United States. So how is it that 60 pro-Palestinian students can pass resolutions against Israel to divest and economically destroy Israel, and some of the Jewish students attending the university werent fighting it or responding? The Jewish students need to know how powerful they are when they raise their voices and they fight back and that they are actually very impactful. So if I a short five foot six inch Jew can fight these really bad guys in the media, and trust me its uncomfortable (I get afraid like anyone else), then they can as well. I get attacked all over the streets of New York, and I have been able to actually videotape many of these attacks in the past, as well as stand my ground.

The first thing is, you have to be filled with courage. The second thing is that if you are attacked on the street, you must film it because most of the people who are attacking you in the streets are cowards. Thats why they are attacking you when you are alone, not protected, precisely because they are cowards. What they are most afraid of is being exposed. When you film them, their employer sees it, their community sees it, their relatives see it. Then all of a sudden, some are not going to be very proud of them and wont be like, Oh, wow, youre an antisemite, Im so proud of you. Instead, they are going to be shocked and be like, Really? Youre attacking people on the street? You must shame them, get out your phone and be ready. The third thing is never back down, never have fear; stand in their face. Dont provoke them we are not like them, who harass people but stand your ground.

Lets be clear. Not only did Dennis Prager and Ben Shapiro fail to speak out and their silence became deafening, but they actually did speak out and they defended her. Dennis Prager has been a friend and mentor to me for three decades. Our friendship has been severely tested by his choice to proactively defend the foremost female antisemite in America. I was shocked when he did that, and we discussed it. I said, Dennis, I fear that you have forever stained your legacy. In the past, your legacy was being a champion of Israel, a champion of Jewishness, and now youre defending the foremost Jew hater in America. A woman who says that Israel is genocidal, a woman who promotes the idea that Jews drink the blood of Christians. A woman who says that Jews control Hollywood and run sex rings there. She is psychotic, and he is defending her. Even worse, though, is Ben Shapiro. At the very least, Dennis Prager didnt make money from it, but Ben Shapiro profited and we dont even know how much. Im guessing to the tune of millions of dollars because for two years after knowing what Candace Owens was, for two years after she came out and defended Kanye West, who said he loved and proclaimed Hitler, Ben Shapiro continued to profit from her daily broadcast. So what I would say to Ben Shapiro is You have disgraced yourself, and you have disgraced your own moral compass. You have also betrayed your people, the Jewish people. You have defiled the yarmulke on your head because if you wear a yarmulke, especially on national TV, you are declaring yourself as an ambassador of the Jewish people, and that comes with a lot of responsibility. If you are declaring that I am an Orthodox Jew and Im in the media and I make money from antisemites, then that desecrates your yarmulke. A yarmulke means Yere Malka that I fear God. No one who fears God is going to make money from those who assail Gods chosen people, including innocent Israelis and the IDF.

Candace Owens was only fired by Ben Shapiro because of the pressure that I and my daughter exerted upon him. So he cant really do teshuva [repentance] because he didnt really choose to fire her, and yet he called me disgraceful on the Piers Morgan show. The only teshuva that he can do is to have accountants do an analysis of how much money he and The Daily Wire which I call The Daily Liar with Candace Owens made and to donate that money to two groups. The first group is the victims of the families of October 7, and the second group is the IDF widows whose husbands fell in combat. If he does that, I will consider that proper teshuva. If he does not do that and he keeps the money that he made from Candace Owens for the past two years, then I guarantee him that there will be no blessing on that money, and it would be a curse to him.

I think that RFK, Jr. is the most pro-Israel of all the presidential candidates right now. He is a very special man. He actually lost a lot of support from his own people because of his stance, but he said, I can lose all of my support, but I am never going to change my support of Israel, and Im always going to be a champion of Israel.

That is the critical question. Lets just look at the numbers for a second. A lot of Jews are saying that there is no way we can win this battle. There are 400 million Arabs, 1.3 billion Muslims, and there are only 16 million Jews. So I always remind them, okay there are 16 million Jews, lets say just 10% of the world Jewish community were actually part of the pro-Israel community and are actively involved in the online wars on Twitter, X, Facebook and Instagram and they were actively protesting on the streets, actively writing columns and signing petitions. An army of 1.6 million can easily defeat an army of hundreds of millions. We saw it during the Second World War. How many American soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, on D Day? Just 250,000. Yet they slowly pushed back all of Hitlers soldiers. An army of 1.6 million people is very significant, and our numbers would be great. The problem is that we only have one percent of the world Jewish community that are actually engaged. I would be surprised if more than 160,000 Jews (outside of Israel) more than 1% were involved. I think that in the United States we have around six million Jews and would be surprised if more than one percent of what we call the pro-Israel community were involved. Whenever you go to a pro-Israel rally in places like New York, its always the same people over and over again. We need more people to be involved and to help make a difference.

The writer received his undergraduate degree in business (cum laude) from Yeshiva University and his MBA with double distinction from Long Island University. He is a financial adviser who resides in New York City and is involved in Israel-based and Jewish advocacy organizations.

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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: 'Ben Shapiro only fired Candace Owens because of me' - The Jerusalem Post

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