September 17, 2009, - 4:02 am

Et Tu, Dennis Prager?: Talk Show Host Observes Yom Kippur w/ Whining Muslim Extremist; UPDATE: Prager “Responds”

By Debbie Schlussel


You’d think that a man who made such a big deal about a Muslim Congressman getting sworn into Congress using a Koran would be the last person to spend Judaism’s most important holiday with an extremist Muslim–the last person to use the day as an exercise in moral equivalency and interfaith multi-culti crap.


On Yom Kippur, Dennis Prager Does Interfaith BS w/ Muslim Levent Akbarut

But you would be wrong.  Because that’s exactly what Salem Radio talk show host Dennis Prager plans to do on Yom Kippur in less than two weeks.  And, because you might ask, the answer is, no, Prager is not a rabbi.  Not even close.  But he sure makes it sound like that, since he’s hosting his own “alternative” Yom Kippur “services.”  I used to like and respect Dennis Prager, but with this development, that’s no longer the case.

Here’s the e-mail he’s been sending out about his event with Islamic victimhood whiner Levent Akbarut, who was an active part of an extremist mosque, where polygamy and Jew-hatred was encouraged. Note how Prager claims he’s against using Yom Kippur as “a forum for political advocacy” and then announces his interfaith moral equivalency event. That’s not “political advocacy”? Only in an ignoramus’ fantasy.

Dear Friends,

For those of you who have signed up (or are still planning to sign up) for my High Holidays Services, I have news I want to share with you.

Those of you who have been with me in the past know that I remain at services all day on Yom Kippur. In the past, in the afternoon during the two-three hour break I would talk with you and answer questions about God, faith, religion, Judaism, life – anything except politics. (I feel strongly that the High Holy Days not be used as a forum for political advocacy.)

This year, however, I have asked three major religious figures – a Protestant Christian, a Roman Catholic, and a Muslim — to join me during that break on the afternoon of Yom Kippur. For those of you who recall my first radio work – ten years as host of “Religion on the Line” – this will be like that, except in person, not on radio. Obviously, this will not be available to the general public, but I think those of you attending will find it interesting and meaningful.

The Christian is Greg Koukl, one the best known evangelical Christians in the nation, founder of Stand To Reason and host of his own national radio talk show on Christianity.

The Roman Catholic is a Capuchin Franciscan friar, Father Gregory Coiro, whom I regard so highly that I am flying him in from San Francisco for this event. For years he was the spokesman for Cardinal Roger Mahoney and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The Muslim representative, Levent Akbarut, is the spokesman for the Islamic Congregation of La Canada Flintridge. He has worked and studied with some of the leading Muslims in America.

I look forward to seeing you.

With warmest wishes,

Dennis Prager

Along with Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur is the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar, since these days mark the beginning and end of the Ten Days of Repentance–when Jews repent for their sins and beg G-d for forgiveness and a good year to come. And when Yom Kippur ends, that fate is sealed.

I suppose Prager believes that the best way to “repent” to his apparent new god, allah, is to show Jews the “goodness” of Islam–you know, to supplement the real “goodness” of Islam that Jews have known for centuries:  from the Al-Mohad Muslim crusades (which some scholars say wiped out a higher percentage of Jews at the time than the Holocaust) to the pogroms of 1929 to the Muslim SS divisions and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem’s urging Hitler to hasten the Final Solution and export it to the Mid-East, to the Siege of Hebron, to the Munich Olympic Massacre, to the Maalot massacre, to the Hezbollah bombing of the Jewish Community Center of Buenos Aires, to the Passover massacre, the bombings of Sbarro’s Pizza and Mikes Bar, to the massacre of the Mumbai Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center.

Let me tell you a little about Mr. Akbarut, Dennis the Interfaith Menace’s new friend. He signed a whining “Islamophobia” petition denouncing David Horowitz’s Terrorism Awareness Project, attacking scholar Robert Spencer, Horowitz, and Ann Coulter, among others. Even worse, the petition was the work of the deceptively-named “Jewish Voice for Peace”–an extremist, anti-Israel group that marches in pro-HAMAS and anti-Israel demonstrations and regularly sides with anti-Semitic groups.  At the time I write this, one of Akbarut’s Facebook friends, Muhammad Adaya, uses as his Facebook icon, a photo of a terrorist wrapped in a keffiyeh with only the eyes visible.

Akbarut, an aerospace software engineer, is the typical Muslim taqiyyah (Islam’s prescribed deception of  non-Muslims) guy.  He says some of the right things and signs some of the right petitions.  Sort of.

For instance, he signed a petition, which claims that Islam does not condemn apostates and those who convert away from the religion.  But we know that’s false.  There is no such thing as “Islam’s unambiguous affirmation of freedom of faith,” contrary to the peition’s claim. It’s disinformation.  The site bearing the petition features links to the work of Tariq Ramadan (who isn’t allowed in America and whose grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood) and Hasan Turabi, the Islamist, sharia-imposing religious leader in  Sudan and a top ally of Osama Bind Laden.  And not far above  Akbarut’s name on the petition is that of Dr. Layla Al-Marayati, whose KinderUSA “charity,” had to shut down, after she admitted it  was funding Palestinian “martyrs.”

Before associating with his current mosque, Akbarut was an active member in the Islamic Center of Southern California, a mosque whose elders and two most prominent members were the Jew-hating Hassan Hathout and Dr. Maher Hathout (who was senior advisor of Al-Marayati’s anti-Semitic hubby’s Muslim Public Affairs Council).  Both Hathout brothers were close friends with Muslim Brotherhood founder, Hassan Al-Banna.

The recently-deceased Hassan Hathout encouraged Muslims to have multiple wives but hide it from Americans:

We American Muslims are subject to American law and we have the right of objection only if the law forces us to do something against Islam. . . . When an American Muslim takes a second wife . . . , the second wife is denied her “legal” proof of marriage, and will essentially be kept as a hidden or secret wife.

Maher Hathout, the still-living elder of Akbarut’s former mosque, repeatedly praised Sudan’s sharia-spreading Turabi.  And he’s a fan of Islamic terrorism and Hezbollah:

Hezbollah is fighting for freedom, an organized army, limiting its operations against military people, this is a legitimate target against occupation. … this is legitimate, this is an American value — freedom and liberty.

Remember, these are the people who led Akbarut’s longtime mosque, where he continued to worship for years.

Akbarut regurgitated the usual baloney victimhood lines about 9/11 in a 2006 column on his mosque’s website, equivocating the terrorist attacks with “the backlash of anti-Muslim sentiments and hate crimes.”

As an American Muslim, I was deeply disturbed and offended that a group of extremists despicably committed this criminal act of violence, hijacking the name of Islam.

During the tumultuous days after Sept. 11, 2001, American Muslims not only mourned this tragic event, but also had to deal with the backlash of anti-Muslim sentiments and hate crimes.

We found ourselves having to explain that Islam in fact condemns such acts of violence, as any other major religion would, that the actions of a few fanatics should not malign an entire faith, and that American Muslims are just as patriotic as their fellow citizens.

Sorry, I’m not buying.  And I don’t believe this fertilizer belongs anywhere near any Jewish religious observances, whether it’s on Yom Kippur or any other day.

So, you’ll excuse me if, as a Jew, I advise other Jews (and non-Jews) not to take any religious advice from  a Jew who offers “interfaith” legitimization of a Muslim extremist and victimhood merchant on Judiasm’s most serious and stern day.

At the beginning of the Yom Kippur holiday, the cantor recites the prayer, “Kol Nidre,” which cancels all oaths and promises from the year before.  (And, no, contrary to the rantings of anti-Semites, we don’t believe this gets us out of contracts, mortgages, and other such obligations.)

Let’s hope that Dennis Prager has the good sense to take that seriously and cancel his promise to his fellow congregants to host Levent Akbarut on the Jewish Day of Atonement.

****  UPDATE:  Dennis Prager “responds” in the comments section, below.  Sort of.  He doesn’t actually respond to his hosting of a Muslim extremist on Yom Kippur, but instead blames us for exposing him and says that’s the reason the Jewish Temples and Jewish state were destroyed.   Incredible.  Incredibly obnoxious.  Read my response to him, within his comment.

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33 Responses

Dennis Prager seems to be getting soft in the head. Also, bringing on a former spokeman for Cardinal Mahoney is not very encouraging. Cardinal Mahoney openly advocated violating U.S. immigration laws in the past. Dennis might still have a mouth, but he has lost his soul.

sorrow01 on September 17, 2009 at 4:33 am

A man who grew up in a New York liberal family is entitled to a regression, an attack of the touchy-feelies, now and then.I agree with you that Yom Kippur is the wong day to have it.

Miranda Rose Smith on September 17, 2009 at 6:39 am

What’s wrong with Dennis Prager?! Isn’t he an attorney? He should do his homework before allowing something like this to take place. I would like to read his reply to your column.

PAMELA MITCHELL on September 17, 2009 at 9:40 am

This really disappoints me. I really liked Dennis, especially after he soundly put Perez Hilton in her place. (Yes, I know. Perez is no man.)

And what’s up with this??!? “During the tumultuous days after Sept. 11, 2001, American Muslims not only mourned this tragic event, but also had to deal with the backlash of anti-Muslim sentiments and hate crimes.” What freaking hate crimes?? The only one I remember was some redneck fool who couldn’t tell a Sikh from a Muslim.

cirrus1701 on September 17, 2009 at 9:45 am

The OU, Orthodox Union also are traitors. Remember the Ramadan dinner with the 0 at the White House. The OU participated with 2 other Rabbis. One rep from Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. The OU represented the orthodox. The OU is known mostly for the supervision of kosher food. Does participating in a Ramadan meal sound kosher to you??

Ruth on September 17, 2009 at 10:43 am

As Debbie wrote above, Akbarut said about 9/11, “We found ourselves having to explain that Islam in fact condemns such acts of violence, as any other major religion would, that the actions of a few fanatics should not malign an entire faith, and that American Muslims are just as patriotic as their fellow citizens.”

Doesn’t this fool remember that many Muslims celebrated this attack? He also said that “American Muslims are just as patriotic as their fellow citizens.” Yeah, they are patriotic, only they are patriotic to the Islamic heathen faith. How many times do you think they will say Allahu Akbar during this interfaith demented forum?

Jarhead on September 17, 2009 at 11:13 am

DS-did you bring this man’s background to Mr. Prager privately? I find his columns consistently conservative, Zionist, and fair interpretations of Judaic teachings.

Is your criticism isolated to his invitation to a radical muslim, or the interfaith service generally?

I look forward to his response, and hope he does not disappoint us by going forward with this.

M: Baloney. Which Judaic teachings espouse “turn the other cheek”? I think my comments on “multi-culti crap” indicate my views on BS “interfaith dialogue.” DS

melchloboo on September 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I can only say that when I hear radio broadcasters such as Lapin and Prager, my skin crawls. I know on a spiritual level there is something very wrong with these people (I would add Sean Hannity to that list).

Now, I have facts to justify the creepy feeling. When I hear Rabbi Grossman, I feel divine 🙂

goldenmike4393 on September 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I can only conclude Jews have a deep-seated need to be validated by their enemies. Unfortunately, Jewish outreach to Muslims has not led to a change in their behavior. I offer 16 years of Oslo (which Dennis Prager praised at the outset) as proof. There is still no peace between Israel and its enemies. Real change in the American Muslim community has to come from within and the last thing any Jew should be doing is legitimizing those who loathe American values, hate Jews and wish to see Israel destroyed. I concur with Debbie in the hope that Prager will revisit his mindless invitation to the likes of of Levant Akbarut. American Jews can do without such “friends” – and its taking interfaith dialogue too far to do any good.

NormanF on September 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Et tu, Dennis? Somebody should tell him that, for starters, Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday and cannot be coopted by other religions. He has gone soft in the head and is seeking “acceptance” – he won’t get it. Next, he will be using that hackneyed expression, “faith tradition” instead of religion.

JulieJ on September 17, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Debbie, This is critically important information. As you wrote, Akbarut was an active member in the Islamic Center of Southern California, so he had to know Maher Hathout, president of ICSA and a senior advisor to the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles. Hathout was caught on video calling Israel a racist apartheid state of butchers at a DC MPAC rally in 2000.

“We did not come here to condemn the condemned atrocities committed by the apartheid brutal state of Israel because butchers do what butchers do and because what is expected from a racist apartheid is what is happening now.” – Dr. Maher Hathout

And, Salam Al-Marayati, an MPAC Co-Founder suggested to a LA talk radio audience a few hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that Israel was responsible. It is mind-boggling that Dennis Prager would invite Akbarut to take part in a Yom Kippur service, as many of the people and groups he has been affiliated with have openly expressed a deep hatred toward Israel and Jews.

MI on September 17, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Interfaith dialogues give me the douchechills.

I have no problem with say representatives of the big three religions getting together and forming a strategy to combat the vast antiGod/Perverse secularism that is rampant. However, we all know that’s never going to happen and Islam’s goal is reign over all.

But for guys to be like “look at me, I’m eating with a Jew/Sikh, etc.” and somehow attach importance to it. I pity Prager since he seems like a Charaltan whose schtick has evolved, he comes off a bit Hannity with moralism and constant references to random Talmud/Old Testament stories/verses.

He should have a REAL representative of the Muslim community and ask him what happens to those who are involved in aposity. Ask him how Jews and Muslims view non members of their religions and have an honest chat with Catholic and Christians about touchy subjects as well.

dirtyleb on September 17, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Debbie, why are you surprised? I remember listening to a recording of a nasty back-and-forth between R’ Meir Kahane and Prager (this is available to anyone who does a web search).

The point isn’t that anyone who disagrees with Kahane is necessarily a scoundrel, but only that someone who is really viciously nasty to him is.

Oh, and Prager was wrong, as well.

skzion on September 17, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    To skZion, I remember that debate between Dennis Prager and the late, great Rabbi Meir Kahane. It was perhaps the only time that I ever heard Prager lose a debate. I think that was the real reason why Dennis Prager has been against Rabbi Kahane all these years, because Prager’s ego was bruised when losing that debate. Now that Rabbi Kahane’s so-called extremist views have been proven to be so true, I wonder if Dennis Prager can find the humility to admit to being wrong.

    Raymond on September 20, 2009 at 11:50 am

A brief response from Dennis Prager.
1. I am not holding an interfaith service or anything analogous to it.
2. As the private letter to those attending my services notes, I try to keep Jews in shul all day Yom Kippur so that they do not go home and end Yom Kippur early or go home for a break and watch TV, etc. This year I intend to use that break (when there is no service) to discuss questions about faith in God, theodicy, forgiveness, and the like with other monotheists. Father Gregory Coiro, incidentally, is a major ohev yisrael (lover of the Jewish people).
3. Discussions like those above help me even better understand the rabbis’ charge that the Holy Temple and Jewish state were destroyed because of sinat chinam (Jews hating one another for no good reason).
Dennis Prager

DP: You don’t know when to admit you made a mistake and are wrong. Just b/c you feature a friend of Israel who is Christian (on Yom Kippur), doesn’t excuse your outrageous embrace of an extremist Muslim and your ridiculous interfaith moral equivalency session. Oh, and nice try–but the Temple and the Jewish state were not destroyed b/c we spoke out about Dennis Prager’s embrace of an enemy of the Jewish people on Judaism’s holiest day. Sickening that you would say this. Hmmm . . . why stop there? Why not also say that the Holocaust happened b/c we spoke out against Dennis Prager’s absurd embrace of Islamic extremism on Yom Kippur.? Disgusting. DS

Dennis Prager on September 17, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Mr. Prager, I see no “hatred” here whatsoever – just extreme disappointment and disgust with your decisions to embrace some fanatic Muslim on our Holiest day. For you to blame the destruction of our Temple on people who are rightly disgusted by your decision, is absolutely absurd.

    I used to appreciate some of your work, but now I’m going to have to seriously reconsider my views on it, and you.

    David Appletree on September 20, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I like Dennis. He likes the truth. Here’s mine. Islam is a gutter filthy shit religion that should never be respected, only filth roles in the gutter with filth. Islam is Cancer! Cancer Cancer. Stay away!

    Gary on September 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Dear Mr. Prager: I go home for a break, between musaf (additional prayer) and mincha (afternoon prayer), every Yom Kipper that I have the strength to go to shul for shacharit (morning prayer). Some years, I just have the strength to go to na’ilah (concluding prayer.) I never use the break to eat or watch TV. Usually, I take a nap. There are better ways to spend Yom Kippur than touchy-feely chats with Jew-haters.

    Miranda Rose Smith on September 21, 2009 at 3:09 am

Mr Prager, I see no profit in your including a Muslim in your Yom Kippur event.

man_in_tx on September 18, 2009 at 12:10 am

What was Dennis Prager thinking? Is this Muslim Extremist part of Dennis Prager love hour? There are million ways to keep his congregation in shul instead of them going home during a break from praying. Dennis has a lot to say; he can interface with his people without this publicity stunt of having a Christian with doubtful background and a Muslim with definite anti-Semitic background talking to Jews on Yom Kippur. What a shame.

Nurit Greenger on September 18, 2009 at 4:29 am

Prager got caught with his pants down so he has to concoct defensive comment.
Prager admit you made a mistake and you are wrong, apologize to your audience, cancel the ridiculous interfaith moral equivalency session and move on. Do your interfaith any other time of the year and choose a credible Muslim to participate. How about Wafa Sultan?
By the way, the Temple and the Jewish state were destroyed because Jews were not united! What Prager is doing is dividing the Jews not uniting them. Prager, pick a better idea to keep your people in shul on Yom Kippur break. You say million words each day on your radio show, I am sure you will find ways to be the main event without an extremist Muslim joining you. Simply say: I sinned and cancel this interfaith.

Nurit Greenger on September 18, 2009 at 4:52 am

Holy crap, I see it now, They are Palestinizing the world!

Salb4 on September 18, 2009 at 9:00 am

It does not seem that Prager can get out of this one. What he should do is get Akbarut on his radio show and tear him a new one with many probing questions, and then renounce his association with this Muslim turd. But even this won’t really help Prager, he is too publically involved with this interfaith garbage to be able to reconcile his reputation.

Jarhead on September 18, 2009 at 10:19 am


Don’t even get me started on Denis Prager, one of the most overrated talk show hosts there is….

Ben-Yehudah on September 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

I have been a regular follower of both Debbie & Dennis for a long time. I just heard Dennis speak locally on Tuesday. I must say, that this time Dennis is flat wrong. The issue is not having the interfaith diaglogue, it is the bad choice of Muslim representation.

Debbie – thanks for your hard work.

La Shana Tova everyone! I gotta run to pot of matzoh balls!

NappieRed on September 18, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Dennis Prager clearly should know better. The day of Yom Kippur has nothing to do with a “dialogue” between Jews and the others and the same logic that correctly condemns replacing the 9/11 memorial with “community service day” stands in this context as well. It is the kind of fundamental mistake Dennis Prager normally does not make. Indeed, we all make mistakes and perhaps it is wrong in the spirit of the holidays to not condemn Prager for a mistake WE would not make. Please. We are always entitled to judge others actions (please go right ahead and judge MINE!!). To draw a trivial analogy, the NY Yankees will not bring in representatives of the Boston Red Sox for their next board meeting. Their “interfaith” event happens during the year–all the time. Ever more so that our holy day cannot be diluted with appeals and compromises with radical Muslims or even temperate ones. In context of many of Prager’s previous stands–this event stands out like a sore thumb. Perhaps he will cancel.

David N. Friedman on September 18, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Perhaps Dennis feels that this could be an opportunity for Levent Akbarut to have a spiritual awakening and transcend his anti-semitism.

Just a thought.

Linda Rivera on September 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm

I am a long-time admirer of Dennis Prager, ever since I started listening to his talk radio show back in the mid-1980’s. He is great when it comes to discussing politics, male-female relations, and arguing the case in a general, philosophical way for the Judeo-Christian outlook on life.

Having said that, there are very definite holes in his character, one of which is his war with traditional, Orthodox Judaism. I can imagine in my mind him reading this, and responding how various Orthodox Jewish groups invite him to speak all the time. What he fails to mention is how much those same Orthodox Jewish groups object to Dennis Prager’s take on Judaism. It really all comes down to his own big ego, his unwillingness to submit to G-d’s Will, due to his worship of himself. If you listen carefully enough to his radio show, it becomes clear what a total narcisist that he is, constantly referring any topic of conversation back to himself. He is at his best on the radio when talking about issues, and worst when he engages in self-promotion.

There is no valid excuse for him having that radical moslem at his Yom Kippur services, or even those Christians, for that matter. He is stubbornly holding on to the days when he was host to Religion on the Line, but should not engage in such self-indulgence on the holiest day of the year for Jews. And of course, showing any respect whatsoever for that islamofascist terrorist undermines everything that Dennis Prager claims to believe in.

Raymond on September 20, 2009 at 11:46 am

The entire Salem line-up is very odd. “Conservatives” who seem subtly and consistently apologetic, with a need to appeal to liberals and to convince them that they are (unlike those “other” conservatives) reasonable, rational, sophisticated, intellectual, compassionate, in other words, “liberal at heart”. Gelatinous.

reSemblance on September 20, 2009 at 12:43 pm

There is no basis for your racist claim to what Muhammad Adaya’s facebook image represents. Educate yourself:

The keffiyeh is a traditional headdress typically worn by Arab men made of a square of cloth (“scarf”), usually cotton, folded and wrapped in various styles around the head. It is commonly found in arid climate areas to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well as for occasional use in protecting the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand. Its distinctive woven check pattern originated in an ancient Mesopotamian representation of either fishing nets or ears of grain.

Islamophobia is on the rise and I would recommend some form of therapy to help overcome your anti-muslim rants. Dennis Prager is on the right path, there’s no right or wrong day to facilitate diplomacy and peace.

Lo Robinson on October 25, 2009 at 7:50 pm

How can I buy tickets for Yom Kippur?

Eliane Rabie on September 15, 2010 at 12:16 am

Prager’s psychotic theocrat extremism makes atheism and agnosticism make perfect sense.

Dan S on July 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

With reference to Hassan Hathout, he was the subject back in 1993 of an admiring piece in the pro-jihad “conservative” monthly magazine, The American Spectator. Significantly, pro-Muslim conservative activist Grover Norquist has a monthly column in that periodical. Hathout is a fanatic.

Seek on July 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm

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