February 24, 2012 | 10:28 am
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
I came on to Michael Coren’s TV show in Canada to simply talk about my new book Kosher Jesus, which has received wide attention throughout the world. I left dazed, having heard from him that Jews refuse to appreciate Christians, depict them negatively, and essentially control Hollywood.
Now Coren has shoved his foot far deeper into his mouth with a personal diatribe against me.
Personal insults are the last refuge of the intellectual coward.
All Coren had to do was apologize for these nauseating insinuations and remarks. Instead, he made the matter worse by complaining that I’m short, that my office had the temerity to request kosher food from the exalted Coren and his staff, and that I refused to exit his studio when he obnoxiously demanded that I exit the very moment the cameras stopped rolling. For good measure, he made sure to gratuitously insult Oprah and Michael Jackson for their mere associations with me, as well.
For the record, there is little I can do about my height, and I apologize to Coren for offending him with my diminutive appearance. Likewise, there is nothing I can do about being kosher. I will never give it up, no matter how much he attacks me for simply asking where I might obtain kosher food since I am not familiar with Toronto. And when Coren’s show asked me to take an early morning flight to Toronto – to talk about my new book Kosher Jesus – where I was traveling for my nephew’s wedding, my office simply asked if a kosher meal could be procured since I would not be eating the whole day and, as a kosher Jew, cannot buy food in most places. Even so, they told my assistant we would have to arrange and pay for it ourselves.
As for Coren’s libel that I threatened him with disclosure of his remarks about Jews and Hollywood, the paranoid claim is laughable given that he had just made his remarks about Jews on national TV in Canada.
It is absolutely true that I refused to leave his studio after his reprehensible treatment of me and his attempt to evict me just as soon as the interview concluded, demanding to see his superiors and finally meeting a man named Matt Wolf, executive producer of Sun TV’s prime time talk shows, who turned out to be quite a gentleman.
I make no apologies for my actions. I am somewhat who fights anti-Semitism and holds those who malign my people accountable. Coren can claim from here to kingdom come that he is a friend of the Jewish community, and that may be true. But that does not excuse his odious remarks. His comments about lack of Jewish appreciation for Christians and the connection between Jews and Hollywood are the very stuff of negative Jewish stereotypes and if he was not prepared to retract them – as Marlon Brando did years ago when he too insinuated on Larry King Live that Jews control Hollywood – then I will bring the matter to his superiors. And his claim that he was only speaking about ‘liberal’ Jews matters not a toss. For the record I am a Republican who is currently seeking our party’s nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District. But I will stand with my people, whatever their political persuasion, and will not allow them to slandered.
As for the Jewish intern of whom he speaks, how sad that some Jews appear to turn the other cheek even when their people are maligned in order to remain in the good graces of superiors.
More troubling still is Coren’s praise for Pius XII and his attempt to hold the Jews accountable for misrepresenting this most ignominious of Popes. Indeed, Sun TV cut Coren’s remarks about Pius from their online post of the broadcast. Why? And why isn’t the interview posted unedited? The public has the right to see it in its entirety.
I stand by my comments about Pius, a religious hypocrite who remained silent while six million Jews died and never once protested. Decent people the world over are repulsed by the memory of a man who disgraced a great Church by showing a total absence of moral leadership, refusing to even once condemn Hitler and the Nazis through all the years of their monstrous murders and tyranny.
An autocrat who told the Roman curia repeatedly that their job was not to give him advice, but to follow his orders, there is ample evidence for Pius as a collaborator with the Nazi government in their occupation of Rome. When the Nazis committed the heinous war crime of executing 335 Roman citizens – many of them Jews but most of them Catholic – in reprisal for a partisan attack against Nazi troops, Pius was implored to publicly protest and protect his personal flock. As usual, he refused to say anything that might upset the Nazis. It seems that neither the love of God nor the love of his fellow man could ever move Pius to publicly condemn Hitler, with whom he had famously negotiated, as papal nuncio, the 1933 treaty which the Fuhrer praised to his cabinet on July 14th of that year as being “especially significant in the urgent struggle against international Jewry.”
Pius even granted a secret audience to Supreme SS Polizeifuhrer Wolff, who had served Himmler as chief of staff and was, in 1943, serving as the chief of German persecution apparatus in occupied Italy. That Pius realized he was doing something that others would regard as scandalous is attested to the fact that the meeting took place in great confidence, and Wolff came dressed in disguise. Years later, Wolff had this to say about the meeting: “From the pope’s own words I could sense the sincerity of his sympathy and how much he loved the German people.”
The coup de grace, of course, was how Pius XII literally watched as the Germans, on Oct. 16, 1943, rounded up more than 1,000 Jews of Rome, nearly all of whom would perish by gas a few days later at Auschwitz. A special SS contingent had been brought in for the roundup, and since many of them had never seen the great city, used the roundup of the Jews as a partial tourist excursion. This brought them to St. Peter’s Square, where many of the trucks actually parked, not more than 300 feet from Pius’ window. Even as the Jews were herded aboard cattle trains and taken to their death, Pius dared not upset the Germans by offering any kind of protest. His strict policy of neutrality was upheld as the Jews of his diocese were literally turned into ash.
But while he did not prize the lives of Jews, there was one thing that Pius did esteem, and that was the bricks and mortar of his churches. As the British and American armies geared up for a massive offensive in the spring of 1944 to capture Rome, Pius suddenly found his voice. He condemned the allies for bombing the eternal city and ordered his American bishops to launch public relations offensives in the United States to pressure the Roosevelt government not to cause destruction to the sacred monuments of the city. This while the Nazis were gassing more than 10,000 people per day.
Not all Christians are like Coren. The vast majority are prepared to honestly study painful moments in the Church’s history, take responsibility for moral failures, and move on to a more Godly future with the Jews as brothers. That was the purpose of my writing Kosher Jesus, which is now a bestseller on many Amazon subcategories. My intent was to educate my Christian brothers and sisters about the Jewishness of Jesus so as to bring our two peoples closer and I am moved by the untold numbers of devout Christians who have written to me thanking me for the book.
What a shame that the moral courage required of such honesty eludes Michael Coren. And how unfortunate that rather than rising to the occasion of building bridges between Jews and Christians, he resorts instead to shameful personal attack.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whom Newsweek calls ‘the most famous Rabbi in America,’ was the host of TLC’s Shalom in the Home, which won the National Fatherhood Award, was the London Times Preacher of the Year at the Millennium, and received the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. The international best-selling author of 27 he has just published Kosher Jesus. He is currently mulling a run for Congress from New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District, running as a Republican. www.shmuleyforcongress.com
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