A few days ago, following on the heels of Moni Dvir’s blog post about “Rabbi” (more on the scare quotes later) Yeshayahu Rotter, I published further details about the personal and political history of the founder of the major radical-right Israeli internet portal, Rotter.net. Among other things, I found no evidence to bolster his claim to a PhD from Boston University, nor could I find any evidence of his being an IDF combat officer (he is a reserve officer–rank of captain, a rank earned at the late age of 33–but only by virtue of being a military chaplain) as a Maariv interview with him claimed. I also noted several sources, including one formerly close to his family, alleging he had been charged by Israeli police with embezzling from a Jerusalem bank where he worked in the 1980s.
New evidence has emerged about other suspect claims Rotter has made about himself and his past. In the 2007 Maariv interview I wrote about in my earlier post, Rotter claimed he had a BA and MBA in business studies from Yozmot College. A call to Yozmot produced the information that they do not award such degrees and do not even have a business program. In the same interview, Rotter claims he earned smicha from the famous U.S. Orthodox Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. However, an Israeli Wikipedia commenter doubts even this story (all links in Hebrew), noting that he likely would’ve had to spend a number of years studying in the U.S. with Feinstein. Given that Rotter himself admits his English is poor, it seems unlikely. Not to mention that Haredi rabbinical students don’t generally study with a teacher from the modern Orthodox movement, of which Feinstein was one of the leading lights. I haven’t ever seen any evidence that he’s spent any time in the U.S. other than these claims. The whole thing doesn’t add up.
So is it possible that Rotter earned smicha? Sure. Just likely not with Feinstein. But that’s the story he’s put out there in public. Again, a nutcase like Rotter likely believes I have a personal vendetta against him. I don’t. I just believe people should be transparent about themselves and their beliefs. They should be who they really are and not who they claim they are. Or at least there shouldn’t be any difference between the two.
Ever since my first post about him, his site has been quaking with fulminations against me and shows of fealty for the good rabbi. He’s even put out an APB for any dirt his hasidim can dig up:
If anyone among our readers has any serious, pertinent information especially about [Silverstein’s] legal or financial complications along with supporting documentation pass it along to me…
In a rank act of hypocrisy which you’ll discover below, Rotter warns readers not to supply rumors. He also admits that his English isn’t very good, which begs the question: how can he make the accusations he does about me below if he can’t read my blog or understand what I’ve written or much of what’s been written about me, true or false?
The funny thing is that my life is pretty much an open book. I’ve been much more candid here than most bloggers. The only reason I’ve stopped being so in past years, is because of miscreant monsters like Rotter who attempt to twist and turn truth and facts into distorted lies.
Now, Rotter has substantially upped the ante. He wrote to me threatening to publish an exposé of my personal background that would accuse me of being questioned by the police for pedophilia. Among other charges he stated that I’d had “financial difficulties” and that my “spiritual health” was compromised. He claimed in an email to me that there was a warrant for my arrest in Israel (undoubtedly another lie). In a Rotter.net posting linked below, a member specifies the warrant accuses me of “giving aid to the enemy.” While I’m not versed in Israeli law, even if any of this garbage were true, which it isn’t, it would seem difficult for Israel to prosecute a U.S. citizen (and a non-Israeli citizen) for aiding an enemy of Israel. He also, and most mysteriously of all, threatened to expose details about my grandfather!
In another message to me, he actually conceded that he didn’t know whether these charges were true but that he’d read them on Google and what he could say for certain was that they were published there. This comment alone is so astonishing it’s hard to believe the man has spent any time on the internet, let alone runs a major Israeli web portal. It seems to me that if he had a PhD in Jewish philosophy as he claims, he might’ve taken a course on epistemology, which would’ve taught him the difference between truth and lies and how to prove that something is true. Needless to say, none of these charges are true.
About a year ago, a Rotter member published at the site a fake FBI press release stating I’d been arrested for pedophilia by the Seattle FBI office and Broward County police (the jerk had no idea Seattle and Broward Country are about as far as they can be from each other and still be in the U.S.). After I demanded that Rotter take the post down, he wrote to me that he had done so and banned the member who posted it. Clearly, Rotter knew at the time that this accusation was false. Therefore, publishing it again is an even more egregious abuse.
Apparently, Rotter needed to bring out the big guns and so he reinstated this monster, who’s reared his ugly head again publishing the same nonsense. Which is interesting, because Rotter took down the claim when originally published. Yet now the same lying claim has resurfaced. In the field of libel law, Rotter’s walking on very, very thin ice. The same Rotter member claims I’ve kited checks (but admits “there were some things” regarding this he “didn’t understand”–an understatement) and that my mother filed a criminal complaint against me, after which pictures of naked children were found on my computer. The problem is that Rabbi Rotter and some of his followers don’t understand the difference between reality as they wish it was and as it really is. For them, who they would like me to be is the same as what I really am. This seems awfully close to mental pathology to me.
Rabbi Rotter also claims in an email to me that everything he’s doing is under a lawyer’s supervision. Which either means he’s lying (a distinct possibility) or that both he and his lawyer are fools.
The distinguished Israeli attorney, Michael Sfard, wrote to Rotter on my behalf warning him about Israel libel law. But that hasn’t stopped other Rotter members, acting either directly on behalf of their champion or indirectly, from publishing the pedophilia charges. I too have written to him warning him that I would pursue every legal recourse at my disposal and in any relevant jurisdiction to fight back against his calumny. I am exploring those avenues now.
Other interesting aspects of this man’s psyche include an accusation he made against the Israeli blogger, Moni Dvir, I mentioned above who first posted about him. Rotter shreyed that Moni was “persecuting” him in a way that could lead to his “murder” (under a halachic concept called redifat retzach). In a separate Rotter.net post, he commented upon the protests by secular Israelis against Haredi spitting attacks against an 8-year-old Beit Shemesh girl (also Orthodox, but a more moderate brand), by claiming that Israelis intended to treat the Haredim as they treated Jews in Germany during the Holocaust. He noted that when he walks down the street he does so paying close attention to his surroundings lest danger lurk somewhere. He likened this to the feelings of Jews in 1930s Germany. He further argued that Israelis would, after the Haredi were massacred (he doesn’t say how, but presumably they’d be gassed in extermination camps), attempt to claim that they hadn’t participated in this incitement to murder, that they’d opposed it. But, and you can hear imaginary strains of ominous music rising on the soundtrack, by then it would be TOO LATE. Imagine the deep, paranoid persecution complex that could cause a man to believe such things. Note also, the need for the Haredim to turn a legitimate protest against THEIR offensive behavior into self-victimization. It is THEY who are victims, they who the nation hates and persecutes. It’s moral extortion and blackmail, and revolting.
Finally, I’ve noted here a number of times the fascination, even obsession, that the radical Jewish right has for sexual degradation. Some of the defamatory claims against the left that arise again and again concern pedophilia, incest, homosexuality, interracial sex, etc. It is one of the chief ways in which they destroy the reputation of those they detest on the left. Exploiting so-called sexual deviancy attitudes takes a political disagreement and turns it into a crusade against moral degeneracy. Those are much more favorable terms for debate than sticking to substantive political argument. There is a deep pathology here that someone’s probably written a doctoral dissertation about (or should). Not Rabbi Rotter’s dissertation of course, since we don’t seem able to locate that.
UPDATE: I also note that Rabbi Rotter told me that my reply to his charges would be included in any “expose” they publish about me. So I decided to test him on that by posting a link to this post (clicking on the link will generate a 404 page not found error) at Rotter.net noting that it was my reply to his charges. Guess how long the link lasted before being taken down? Maybe 10 minutes. So much for the Rabbi’s willingless to stand by his word and offer someone a chance to reply.