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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: My friend Roseanne Barr needs to ‘immediately clarify her statements’

Barr, who is Jewish, has joined Boteach in speaking out against antisemitism in the past

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is calling on his friend Roseanne Barr to explain her comments, after a clip of Barr’s strange rant about Holocaust denial sparked controversy on Tuesday.

“I find it hard to believe that someone who has joined me in fighting antisemitism,” Boteach wrote in the Jewish Journal, “would deny the historical fact of 6 million Jews being murdered in the largest genocide in world history.”

On the show, Barr said that, “Nobody died in the Holocaust, either. That’s the truth.” She continued: “It should happen — 6 million Jews should die right now because they cause all the problems in the world, but it never happened.” She also said that Jews run Hollywood like “an organized crime network.”

Shortly after the video clip of Barr’s comments surfaced on social media, Theo Von, the podcast host who interviewed her, tweeted that it was taken from a long, sarcastic rant about censorship.

Barr also responded to the controversy in an Instagram post on Tuesday afternoon, echoing Von’s statement. “This latest attempt against me is the dumbest one to date,” she wrote, adding that she plans to address the incident on her own podcast on Thursday.

Boteach, who has been friends with the actress and comedian for more than 20 years and has traveled with her to Israel, pointed to the danger of Barr’s words being used to fuel antisemitism and Holocaust denial, regardless of their context. “Sarcasm and explanations aside, my friend Roseanne needs to personally and immediately clarify her statements,” he said.

In a 2021 appearance on Boteach’s podcast, Late Night with Rabbi Shmuley, Barr spoke about how her Jewish upbringing taught her about the Holocaust firsthand. “My grandparents sponsored survivors from the camps,” she said. “I grew up with people who had numbers tattooed on their arms.”

Barr recounted watching the trial of Adolf Eichmann with her family as a young child. “That affected me,” she said. “I made a deal with God then that I would never stop, and I will never stop.”

Boteach described his 2021 interview with Barr as a “responsibility, in the name of repentance and her commitment to Judaism” after she was fired by ABC in 2018 for posting racist comments on social media.

“This is the time for earnestness, not sarcasm,” he said. “I call on my friend Roseanne to speak the truth she knows all too well, the sooner the better.”

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