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Breitbart Columnist Censors Wolpe’s DNC Prayer

Falsely accuses rabbi of leaving Jerusalem out of benediction

Yair Rosenberg
September 06, 2012
Andrew Breitbart(AFP/Getty)

Readers who have been following our convention coverage know that last night in his benediction, Rabbi David Wolpe pointedly rebuked the Democratic National Convention for its waffling on including reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the party platform. In his prayer, Wolpe name-checked “that golden and capital city of Jerusalem,” placing verbal emphasis on the key word.

But readers of columnist Ben Shapiro at the conservative outlet Breitbart woke up to a very different story. “Tonight, Rabbi David Wolpe gave the closing benediction,” wrote Shapiro. “And he missed two key references: Jerusalem, and the State of Israel. He focused instead on the false leftist definition of tikkun olam, fixing the world.”

This is quite a remarkable accusation, given that Wolpe’s prayer never once mentioned tikkun olam, and explicitly referenced Jerusalem. How does Shapiro support his claim? By posting a bowdlerized version of Wolpe’s prayer without the part about Jerusalem—and hoping his readers don’t notice.

Here’s a helpful comparison between the key passage of Shapiro’s censored version and Wolpe’s actual version:

SHAPIRO: Each of these changes touches us all, for you have taught us that we must count on each other, that our country is strong through community and that the children of Israel, on the way to that sanctified and cherished land, did not walk through the wilderness alone.

WOLPE: Each of these changes touches all of us: for you have taught us that we must count on one another; that our country is strong through community, and that the children of Israel on the way to that sanctified and cherished land, and ultimately to that golden and capital city of Jerusalem, that those children of Israel did not walk through the wilderness alone.

Now, to be charitable, it’s possible that Shapiro got his hands on an early draft of the prayer that was written before the platform fiasco, and then never watched the actual benediction (or read the prepared version that was posted by Wolpe at the Los Angeles Jewish Journal). But whether his post is the result of deliberate deception or extreme negligence, it is certainly an instance of journalistic malpractice.

Shapiro concludes his post by asserting, “This is the Jewish appeal of Obamaism. And it has nothing to do with Judaism or Israel.” I could be missing an obscure Talmudic citation on this one, but to the best of my knowledge, misrepresenting the words of respected rabbis doesn’t have much to do with Judaism either.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.