Here’s the latest installment on the estimable “Rabbi” Yeshayahu Rotter, impressario of the Rotter media empire. Here I wanted to disseminate some new information I’ve discovered about him and respond to a few of his attempts to defend or support his claims about his own record and background.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the Rotter web portal which he started over a decade ago got its start as a site specializing in illegal download of music and video files. I’ve discovered since that Rotter in fact was prosecuted by the Business Software Alliance (BSA home page) and Israeli police for piracy. The homes of his son, Noam and himself were raided by police who found copying devices and CDs ready for copying. Among those companies whose software was being pirated were Microsoft, Norton, and Semantec. Adobe Photoshop and Autocad. The BSA estimated the damages to its member firms in the millions of dollars. All pages of the Rotter website dedicated to piracy were ordered taken down.
In 2007, a three-judge Israeli appeals court rejected Rotter’s appeal of a fine of 50,000 shekels (about $12,000 at today’s exchange rate) in a case involving violation of copyright of images owned by an Israeli photographer, Shlomi Bouchacho. The case was originally decided in the latter’s favor in 2005. The Israeli photographer’s professional work had previously appeared in Walla for two years. When Rotter appropriated his photos, Bouchacho sued and won a judgement against the former. Among the defendant’s claims were that the photos which appeared at his site weren’t authentic images by the photographer, but fakes (I don’t even understand that claim). Another claim that Rotter made which backfired was that the damages to the plaintiff couldn’t have been great since his site merely republished the work of others and didn’t generate original news coverage of its own (which in itself is another fib). The judges took this statement and turned it against him, writing:
Learn from this that we’re not dealing with a simple web surfer here [in Rabbi Rotter], but rather with the owner of a website whose [news] reports, including photographs, are taken from other sites, and that this practice is a regular occurrence.
Among the findings of the judges in the plaintiff’s favor was that Rotter “threw mud” on Bouchacho without offering any supporting evidence. It sounds like the man we’ve grown to know and love.
In order to prove that he has a PhD, “Dr.” Rotter has uploaded to his site a “transcript” of his course work and grades from his “PhD program.” That’s the one he alleged in a 2007 Maariv interview that he earned from Boston University. There are a few problems. First the transcript doesn’t feature the name or logo of any education institution. That makes it at best an unofficial transcript. But mainly, we have no idea what school he went to based on this document. We can say that it appears that he has a piece of paper from somewhere that claims he earned a PhD in 2002. Also, note the grades are uniformly “A”s which either makes him a genius or the institution from which he earned the degree suspect. He may’ve earned a PhD from some institution, but it’s impossible to know which one. Note, by the way, that in another interview he alleged he earned his PhD in 1998 (not 2002). My guess is that if he did earn a PhD, he did so from an extension program or perhaps even via an online education website that sells such degrees.
Members of his site have told him to post his dissertation and so be done with the argument with me. The only problem is that he claims the dissertation was prepared in a computer language no longer used in Israel. In essence, he’s claiming he can’t present the dissertation in a format usable in today’s computer world. If his dissertation was written in the period between 1998-2002, the claim is simply preposterous. There are of course ways to convert documents from even defunct computer languages into ones used now. Well, that about finishes him as having even an ounce of remaining credibility.
In the Maariv interview, Rotter claims he attended to Hebron and Ponovitz yeshivas as a child. An Israeli reader notes that as Haredi education institutions they wouldn’t have offered a standard Israeli high school degree. Therefore, unless he earned such a degree in an alternate way, he couldn’t have been accepted for study at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
“Rabbi” Rotter also posts his military officer’s identification document which notes he was appointed an officer in the IDF in 1986. Among my claims was that Rotter fudged when he claimed he was an IDF combat officer. He is a reserve military chaplain which bestows an automatic officer rank on him. But this is an honorary rank and far different from a combat rank. Rotter himself claims he reached the rank of sergeant, which is a non-commissioned officer and not at all of the same status as a true officer, which is a higher rank.
I’m still attempting to verify whether Rotter has smicha from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein as he claims.
Among the other sins of Rotter reported in the Israeli media, in 2001 he published an image of then Prime Minister Ehud Barak in an S.S. uniform. The mind of any Israeli will immediately grasp the implications of such an act because the far-right did the same to Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 shortly before he was assassinated by Yigal Amir. Picturing an Israeli leader in a Nazi uniform is tantamount to a death warrant. This is the level to which this “rabbi” stoops.
Finally, in case anyone didn’t already know this, Rotter is a complete fraud and no one can tell whether anything he says is the truth.
Any dissertation, published in any country, is available through UMI’s dissertation abstracts. If it isn’t there, then no dissertation was written. Beyond that, the course listings are incredibly detailed–six consecutive semesters of Talmud Bavli? C’mon. Rotter is an imposter, end of story.
Richard Silverstein says
I tried, the dissertation isn’t listed. Plus a friend called the BU registrar and there’s no record of any student ever by Rotter’s name. As you say, end of story.