In a new press release, Chabad claims President Bush praised its 'nonsectarian' relief efforts in a speech given yesterday. But nothing could be further from the truth. As noted first here, what President Bush actually said is as follows:
"Our nation’s armies of compassion have rallied and have come to the aid of people who are in desperate need of help. Our charities and houses of worship and idealistic people have opened up their homes, wallets and their hearts. It's been an amazing, amazing outpouring of help. And the Jewish community of this country has been on the forefront of the efforts.
"At Tulane University, the director of the Chabad, Rabbi Rivkin, brought teams of students to New Orleans and Southern Mississippi and other communities hit by the storm. He called in folks to help. He didn't say, head away from the storm, he said, let's take it right to the middle of the storm area to help people. They helped rescue stranded people, distributed bottled water, self-heating kosher meals, cleaned up and helped salvage homes, they provided spiritual support for those who lost loved ones and one of the ones rescued put it this way: In the days after Katrina hit, Chabad saved lives.
"Rabbi Stanton Zamek of the Temple Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, helped an African American couple displaced by the storm track down their daughter in Maryland. When Rabbi Zamek called the daughter, he told her, "We have your parents." She screamed out, "Thank you, Jesus!" (Laughter.) He didn't have the heart to tell her she was thanking the wrong rabbi. (Laughter and applause.)
"Jewish organizations have thus far raised $17 million to help the victims of Katrina. (Applause.) Our citizens are answering the call of the Prophet Isaiah: "If you give what you have to the hungry, and fill the needs of those who suffer, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your darkness will be like the brightest time of day." People are hearing that call all across the country. And there's more work to be done. I urge you to continue to pay attention to the folks down there by contributing to the Red Cross, or the Salvation Army, or the United Jewish Communities, or B'nai B'rith International, or the American Jewish Committee. (Applause.) "
President Bush does not claim Chabad efforts are "nonsectarian." In fact, he lists them with other sectarian efforts and then urges donations, not to Chabad, but to nonsectarian relief agencies like the Red Cross. Chabad efforts were directed at Jews, skipped over needy non-Jews and do not meet the nonsectarian test. Chabad has committed fraud, and should be prosecuted.
The complete text of Chabad's press release follows:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- President George W. Bush praised
Chabad's Hurricane Katrina relief programs today, applauding the group's
efforts to help storm victims of all faiths. Chabad will raise funds to
support these vital efforts during their Telethon on Sunday, September 25.
Commending the Jewish community's humanitarian response to the disaster,
President Bush singled out Chabad, saying: "They rescued stranded people;
they distributed bottled water and self-heating kosher meals. They cleaned up
and helped salvage homes; they provided spiritual support for those who lost
loved ones. And one of the ones rescued put it this way, 'In the days after
Katrina hit, Chabad saved lives.'"
Chabad launched an extensive program to provide comfort and hope to those
affected by the disaster in the Gulf Coast. Chabad's representatives
throughout the region have been working hard to provide financial, material,
and logistical aid to those in need--regardless of their faith. President
Bush lauded these efforts in his remarks before the Republican Jewish
Coalition in Washington, DC.
"At Tulane University, the director of the Chabad, Rabbi Rivkin, brought
teams of students to New Orleans and southern Mississippi and other
communities hit by the storm," President Bush said. "And he called in folks
to help. He didn't say, 'Head away from the storm area,' he said, 'Let's take
a ride to the middle of the storm area to help people.'"
This Sunday, Chabad will urge viewers during its 25th annual Telethon to
add to their usual pledges in order to support these emergency relief
programs. Rabbi Rivkin of New Orleans and others involved in Chabad's efforts
will appear on the broadcast when donors are encouraged to earmark a portion
of their contribution to aid hurricane victims.
The 25th anniversary Chabad "Celebration 25" Telethon broadcasts live from
Hollywood on Sunday, September 25, from 3:00 pm to midnight, PDT. It will air
in major cities across America, and will be simulcast around the globe on the
Chabad's Telethon is an annual fundraising event that supports the largest
network of educational and nonsectarian social services under Jewish auspices
in America. This year's broadcast will include appearances by James Caan,
Magic Johnson, Regis Philbin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Matt LeBlanc, Louis
Gossett, Jr., Lara Flynn Boyle, Tony Danza, Jimmy Kimmel, CCH Pounder, Elliott
Gould, Mindy Sterling, Perry Farrell, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Los
Angeles Mayor Antonio Villraigosa. The Telethon is chaired by producer Jerry
Weintraub and attorney Marshall Grossman.