A TV review in the Guardian compares Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a lifelong anti-genocide activist, to a fictional rabbi in HBO’s The Plot Against America who collaborates in the rise of a Nazi-like, antisemitic regime in the U.S.
The review, written by Charles Bramesco, compares Boteach to Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf, a character who backs Charles Lindbergh, the pioneering aviator whose opposition to U.S. involvement in the Second World War, and antisemitic prejudices, inspired Philip Roth’s dystopian 2004 novel about a pro-fascist American president.
Actor John Turturro plays Bengelsdorf in HBO’s television adaptation of Roth’s book.
Bramesco writes of Boteach (original emphasis):
He [Turturro] plays as a searing comment on the likes of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a worldwide shanda cozying up to President Trump in the presumptive belief that he’ll be exempt from the hatred now being seeded. He represents a sizable Jewish component in Trump’s base, hardline conservatives convinced that he’ll have their back.
The term “shanda” is a Yiddish word meaning “shame,” suggesting public disgrace. It has been used frequently by Jewish leftists to refer to Jews who support President Donald Trump.
Boteach worked closely with the late Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and has written extensively — including for Breitbart News — on the topics of prejudice and genocide.
His columns for Breitbart include reflections on the lessons of the Rwandan genocide; criticism of past homophobic statements by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-ND); advocacy for human rights in North Korea; passionate denunciations of the efforts of the Qatari regime to woo American Jewish leaders; and opposition to China, among other topics.
Boteach is a Republican and has supported Trump for his policies, particularly on Israel and Jewish affairs. He has defended Trump against claims of antisemitism — and has also criticized Trump for his past controversial rhetoric.
Bramesco did not explain why he saw parallels between Boteach and Bengelsdorf. Bramesco did not reply to a request for comment.
He did, however, tweet photographs of Boteach with President Trump and former advisor Steve Bannon:
— Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse) March 31, 2020
Bramesco has a history of inflammatory statements on social media, including against Trump and conservatives:
1. Only the first candle and the shammes should be lit, you stupid motherfucker 2. YOU ARE A LITERAL NAZI FIGUREHEAD HOW DARE YOU https://t.co/wyXVDAuhDN
— Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse) December 24, 2016
I might be shooting from the hip here, but this Kavanaugh fellow seems like a colossal blithering fuckface
— Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse) September 27, 2018
Boteach told the Jewish Journal on Tuesday that he is considering legal action against the Guardian over Bramesco’s review:
“What they cannot do is say that a not-unknown rabbi … who has spent his life promoting Holocaust education, Rwandan genocide awareness … a rabbi who has pioneered African American and Jewish relations, a rabbi who has pioneered in the Orthodox community LGBTQ rights and last year honored Caitlyn Jenner with our highest for everything she’s done to fight for Israel, what they cannot do is say that there’s a fascist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic rabbi being portrayed in a fictional drama on HBO and that rabbi in real life is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach,” Boteach said. “That is pure libel.”
Boteach tweeted that he considered the Guardian article antisemitic.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.