The Discovery Institute blog has a horrible post attacking Richard Dawkins for calling Shmuley Boteach "Hitler." Is this true?
Dawkins – who knows Shmuley personally and knows Shmuley's tactics – responded to a Shmuley column in the Jerusalem Post that attacked Dawkins for "forgetting" a debate the two had at Oxford many years ago. Sandbagged by Boteach's behavior, Dawkins responded at length on his own blog. One thing Dawkins wrote is that Shmuley "shrieked like Hitler" in a recent debate between the two in Canada:
…As it happened, my taxi was late. While I was waiting for it, I was able to hear your speech, relayed over a loudspeaker in the foyer. I was astounded by what I heard. Gone was the urbane, humorous, polite Shmuley that I had known at Oxford, and with whom I had had lunch. What I heard over that loudspeaker was a shrieking rant, delivered with an intemperate stridency of which Hitler himself might have been proud. As I listened, I was shocked by your lamentable, but vocally confident ignorance of Darwinian evolution. And even more shocked by your shrill and vicious attack upon me. You were shrieking invective, in the belief that I was on my way to the airport. Had you prepared your ranting attack in advance, or did you extemporise as soon as you read my note? Had you somehow managed to convince yourself that this really was a ‘debate’ between us, even though I was not present? Are you, perhaps, in the habit of fantasizing about debates that never took place? Either way, you were giving me ample reason to be cool towards you – after Toronto. But, when we actually met in Toronto, I had no idea you were going to attack me, and my attitude towards you was the very opposite of cool.
In the following exchange between the two, Dawkins made it clear he was referring only to Shmuley's speaking style, not to anything else.
The point is, the two were friends from Shmuley days in Oxford. Dawkins was kind and polite to Shmuley. Shmuely appeared to be friendly and polite to Dawkins, but that facade was dropped after Dawkins left.
On the Discovery Institute's Evolution blog, John West handled the conflict this way:
…When Boteach criticized Dawkins for his rhetorical overreach, what did Dawkins do? Apologize? Of course not! Dawkins dug himself an even deeper hole. On May 8, he publicly responded to Boteach that he “did not say you think like Hitler, or hold the same opinions as Hitler, or do terrible things to people like Hitler. Obviously and most emphatically you don't.” Although this wasn’t exactly an apology, at least it was civil. But Dawkins couldn’t help himself, and so he started up again:I said you shriek like Hitler. That is the only point of resemblance, and it is true. You shriek and yell and rant like Hitler… throughout your speeches you periodically rise to climaxes of shrieking rant, and that is just like Hitler. Incidentally, Dinesh D'Souza yells and shrieks in just the same way. I suppose it impresses some people, although it is hard to believe.
…when you turn to the subject of evolution, you don't know what you are talking about, so you yell and shriek to make up for it. Maybe yelling and shrieking works with an ignorant audience. It apparently worked for Hitler, but that is not a happy precedent. You should know better. Go and read some books about evolution, learn something about biology, and you'll then find that you can talk about it in a calm and civilised voice. You'll find that you won't need to yell and shriek like a madman, and you'll be all the more persuasive for it.
Where is the Anti-Defamation League when you need it?
The Discovery Institute linked to a YouTube video of Boteach's speech. But this video, bad as it is, is only Shmuley's opening, the first 10 minutes of his speech. Embedded below is the second part of that speech – the part Dawkins was actually referring to:
Shmuley sure does a lot of shrieking here.
Past that, Shmuley has nothing to say. He is a huckster par excellence and a fraud, (Watch Christopher Hitchens mop the floor with him if you don't believe me.) The louder he gets, the less sense he makes.
While Dawkins mention of Hitler is unfortunate, it is not antisemitic.
Dawkins is correct. Shmuley prances around the stage and screams and shrieks. And he makes no logical sense.
Shmuley is dishonest, not just in the arguments he makes but in how he conducts his business, as Roger Friedman reports (scroll down linked page for story):
…Back on May 23, 2001, we revealed the truth about the "Kosher Sex" rabbi who started a bogus charity with Jackson.
To this day there has no been no accounting for the money Boteach and Jackson raised for their Time for Kids/Heal the World Foundation. Indeed, the event they held on Feb. 14, 2001, at Carnegie Hall — a symposium on children — has never turned up in tax returns.
London newspapers reported that Boteach was ousted from the L'Chaim Society of Oxford University for mismanagement of funds. (He allegedly used money from the charity to maintain a lavish home. Boteach insisted it was his right to do so.) He was also reportedly banned from having a pulpit in the U.K., although during our conversation last year he denied that.
The New York Times also didn't bother to look into the infamous L'Chaim Society, Boteach's New York charity.
The most recent tax return available, which covers all of 2000, states that the New York edition of L'Chaim Society took in $203,185 in donations but paid out $240,164 "for administration." There are no funds listed for "Program Services."
In May 2001, this column discovered quite a lot about the so-called Oxford L'Chaim Society of New York, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Oxford University in Great Britain.
I wrote: "In 1999, the British government criticized (Boteach's) L'Chaim Society of Oxford, London and Cambridge — an organization that was supposed to support and promote Jewish thinking and life on the Oxford campus — when they discovered that Shmuley (his name is Shmuel but he loves the nickname) had been dipping into the funds.
In an e-mail to the Oxford Union, Sonia Tugwell of the Charity Commission wrote on January 8, 2001: "In August 1999, the Charity Commission opened an inquiry under section 8 of the Charities Act 1993 into the L'Chaim Independent Charitable Trust as a result of concerns that the charity's funds were being misapplied.
"The inquiry established that a number of apparent inappropriate payments were regularly being made by the founder of the charity, Rabbi Boteach and his wife. Fundraising costs and administrative expenses were high in relation to relatively low charitable expenditure.
"As a result of the inquiry, in March last year, the trustees of the charity, after taking appropriate legal advice, reached an agreement with the Boteaches. The result of this was that a sum was paid by them to the charity. The trustees of the charity decided to wind up the charity and the London and Oxford offices were closed last year with our approval. It was agreed that the assets of the Cambridge Society would be transferred to another trust. If there are any funds remaining after outstanding liabilities have been paid, these will be given to other charitable causes similar to those supported by the L'Chaim Independent Charitable Trust."
An article dated June 1, 1998, in the London Daily Telegraph clearly states: "Ah Shmuley. The shame, the disgrace. (He's been) publicly reproached by Elkin Levy, president of the United Synagogues; forced to resign from the synagogue in Willesden where he preaches, accused of conduct unbecoming, bringing the rabbinate into disrepute." The resignation was apparently in response to the publication of Boteach's controversial book, "Kosher Sex," which has been a bestseller and was excerpted in Playbo y.
"It seems funny to me," said a source at the Oxford Union, "that the headquarters for the L'Chaim Society of Oxford is in New York."
Frustrated by the lack of information from Boteach's office, I subsequently wrote another story on Feb. 18, 2002, stating that Boteach's tax-free foundation in the United States is alled Oxford L'Chaim Society, implying a tie to the prestigious British university.
I also wrote that the L'Chaim Society's 1999 public tax filing shows that the charity took in $300,000. Of that amount, $160,000 went to "management" and $122,000 was sent as a lump-sum donation to the L'Chaim Society of Cambridge, the other top British university.
But, of course, representatives of the Cambridge Society swore to me last year that they hadn't heard from Boteach in a long time. Certainly they didn't mention a huge donation, and neither did Boteach.
Even so, more than half the money collected by Boteach in 1999 went to salaries. Less than half was donated to charity. Just in case you were wondering.
This from the poster boy for "family values." Disgusting.