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Shmuley Boteach

Noam Chomsky and Yale’s ‘Jewish Lives Book Series’ Reek of Jeffrey Epstein

­Israel-hater and celebrity academic Noam Chomsky confirmed receiving $270,000 from a bank account associated with Jeffrey Epstein. Chomsky said it was only to reorganize his own funds – whatever that means. Then again, his moral apathy is already the stuff of legend.

Chomsky popularized ‘Judeo-Nazi,’ regularly defends Hamas, claims “Russia is fighting more humanely than the US did in Iraq,” and blames the West for “provoking China.” Legitimizing evil is what Chomsky does.

There were many academics like Noam Chomsky who lavished Jeffrey Epstein with the legitimacy needed to overcome a 2008 conviction for sex crimes involving underage girls as young as fourteen. Many were handsomely compensated by the financier for their efforts. In the end, these men of peak sophistication, the so-called eyes of the nation, seem like total suckers who would prostitute their reputations for money.

Professors should be smart enough to know they devalue their credibility by giving it away. So why are leading Jewish academics making the same mistake?

The ‘Jewish Lives’ imprint at Yale University Press produced 55 biographies of famous Jews while serving as a fig leaf for a disgraced billionaire who paid nine-figure sums to Jeffrey Epstein. The latest revelations about Epstein’s closest associates has left the imprint in utter disgrace.

Billionaire investor Leon Black doesn’t necessarily fund the “Jewish Lives” imprint at Yale University Press to make other people’s biographies. He does it, it’s fair to assume, to rehabilitate his own.

The Jewish Lives website ‘About’ tab links directly to About Leon Black and A Note From Leon Black.  Where Jewish Lives is mentioned, Leon Black always hovers nearby.

To be sure, Leon Black could use the positive associations – to balance out his bad ones. For three years he’s been taking incessant fire, from blue-chip outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, for his self-described “limited relationship” with Jeffrey Epstein — which was anything but. Over the past weeks it’s reached fever crescendo with the national media disclosing the most embarrassing details yet of Black’s snug relationship with Epstein.

The Wall Street Journal recently disclosed that Black paid Jeffrey Epstein a mind-boggling $158 million and had “more than 100 meetings scheduled with him from 2013 to 2017.” The New York Times had already reported that two “had known each other for decades.” On top of all this, two women are now accusing Black of rape – one of them saying it occurred in Jeffrey Epstein’s Townhouse.

In light of the allegations, Black was forced out as chairman of the Museum of Modern Art and CEO of his massive investment firm.

So why is Yale University and the series Editor in Chief Ilene Smith allowing Black’s legacy to be whitewashed by 55 leading Jewish personalities, including a planned biograpy of “Rebbe Schneerson”?

The great Jews of history never intended for their lives to bubble-wrap the reputation of a patron of America’s most notorious sex offender. But Black was shrewd, recruiting allies who have passed and naturally can’t opt out.

The Jewish Lives project’s Epstein connections might be even more profound. Black made Epstein one of the original trustees of what is today called the Debra and Leon Black Foundation from 1999 until 2012. Considering Jewish Lives was founded in 2006 and published its first book in 2010, Jeffrey Epstein would likely have been involved in its inception.

Ilene Smith, Jewish Lives’ chief director, is also an editor for Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, one of the world’s premier publishers. Is Farrar, Straus, and Giroux aware that its editor moonlights for a foundation knee-deep in the rapidly expanding Epstein quagmire?

Ilene Smith must have been aware of the fires around Leon Black – but did she ensure her writers knew, too? The authors behind the Jewish Lives biography series are, at times, prominent academics standing atop lifetimes of study. Billionaires might be essential, but professors’ reputations matter, too.

As it is, the Epstein saga is laying waste to academia.

The pro-Israel community always knew the moral erosion of America’s best universities. We’ve seen their top-tier antisemitism, moral relativism, and eagerness to brown-nose donor regimes like China and Qatar. Now, at last, the world is catching on.

Despite a complete lack of appropriate academic qualifications, Harvard appointed Epstein a visiting fellow at its psychology department. Harvard claims to have stopped taking donations from Epstein after his 2008 conviction. Still, the school hosted Epstein more than 40 times after that date and furnished him with an on-campus office and a key card that let him enter buildings after hours. Harvard must have felt this was the least it could do for a man who gave them over $9 million

According to an archived version of one of Mr. Epstein’s websites, Jeffrey Epstein visited Harvard with Leon Black. When Black gave Harvard at least $5 million, Mr. Epstein’s staff members “played a role in facilitating the Black donations.” The workarounds allowed for Epstein were absolutely staggering.

Other top schools were similarly corrupt.

Bard College President Leon Botstein was also exposed last week for taking $150,000 from Epstein — supposedly as a donation for his school. A few months ago, Botstein defended a full-scale course on Israel’s practice of “Apartheid” being taught at his college.

At Bard, like at MIT and Harvard, morality is served inverted.

Add all that to Yale University, which has teamed up with Ilene Smith and 55 academics to help Leon Black distract us from his scandals. The Jeffrey Epstein saga has descended on America’s premier campuses like a plague. Jewish Lives risks drawing in Jewish academics, too.

Is Jewish Lives just another channel of Epstein cash coursing toward academics?

Leon Black credits Epstein with saving him “as much as $2 billion or more” by providing tax and estate planning services. These extraordinary savings justified Black’s $158 million payment to Epstein – and may have cleared up the capital used to fund Jewish Lives.

Of course, the fact that Epstein provided such valuable services is hard to believe. The New York Times insists that Epstein “demonstrated no great skill as an investor and had no formal training in tax and estate planning.” Indeed, some transfers between Black and Epstein were considered so unusual they drew scrutiny from Deutsche Bank, one of Epstein’s primary bankers.

Which means the payments may have been connected to something else. As Black’s rape cases progress and the Epstein case unravels, the scrutiny around Jewish Lives and Ilene Smith seems likely to intensify.

About the Author
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of This World: The Values Network. He is the author of Judaism for Everyone and 30 other books, including his most recent, Kosher Lust. Follow him on Twitter@RabbiShmuley.