Following the publication of a possibly libelous article in The Guardian newspaper on Monday, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach told the Jewish Journal that he is seriously considering taking legal action against the British newspaper.
The article in question was written by Jewish journalist Charles Bramesco, who was reviewing a HBO mini-series, “The Plot Against America,” an adaptation of a novel by Philip Roth that depicts an alternate reality in which Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election and steers the United States toward an isolationist policy, keeping it out of the Second World War.
In his article, Bramesco wrote that, “the new TV adaptation … shares uncomfortable similarities with today…” and went on to compare Lindbergh to President Trump. According to him, Lindbergh’s anti-Semitism was “filtered and sanitized … he [protested that] he’s not about condoning genocide against the Jews … that he’s friends with plenty of Jews, that he’s got a good heart…”
However, when discussing another character in the TV production, Bramesco was more open in linking the characters to real-life figures. The series features a rabbi, Lionel Bengelsdorf, who downplays Lindbergh’s anti-Semitism to his fellow Jews, and Bramesco writes that Bengelsdorf “plays as a searing comment on the likes of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a worldwide shanda [disgrace –ed.] cozying up to President Trump in the presumptive belief that he’ll be exempt from the hatred now being seeded.”
Boteach told the Jewish Journal that Bramesco’s article “crosses a line,” and that “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 … that is pure libel.”
He also argued that such a comparison is anti-Semitic, arguing that it “goes to the core of always blaming Jews for the rise of anti-Semitism.”
Boteach said that given the global health crisis, his first priority is the safety of his family and he prefers to focus on positivity and give The Guardian a chance to apologize. However, he added that if they fail to do so within a day, he will consider legal action.
So far, no response has been forthcoming from either The Guardian or Bramesco, other than Bramesco’s tweeting of pictures of Boteach with Trump and former White House strategist Steve Bannon. Boteach is a Republican and has supported Trump for his policies, particularly on Israel and Jewish affairs. He has also defended Trump against claims of anti-Semitism, while trying to get him to tone down his rhetoric. He writes extensively on topics of prejudice and genocide relating to all nations and faiths.
Bramesco has a history of making inflammatory statements on social media, including against Trump and conservatives.