Scientology Leader David Miscavige Digs Israel; BONUS: Black People are Cool! (UPDATED)
The Voice was leaked a copy of Scientology's latest gala -- its October meeting of the International Association of Scientologists -- which took place in the UK, near L. Ron Hubbard's legendary home, Saint Hill Manor.
At three hours long, it's an interminable amount of time to watch diminutive church leader David Miscavige talk about what a bang-up job Scientology is doing to make the world a better place. Honestly, I don't know how the guy does it. He doesn't seem to have Teleprompters, and never glances at his script. [Mike Rinder has corrected me on this. See note, below.] He just goes on and on in a program that was clearly written carefully ahead of time, extolling the gains of the past decade since the 9/11 attacks, which he calls "The Wake-Up Call."
Somehow, we got nearly to the end of the three hours, when something happened that was really interesting -- at least to us here at the Voice. Miscavige started talking about a place we've actually been to and reported on. He started talking, in other words, about the new "org" in Jaffa, Israel, that is associated with attempted murder, two arson attempts, and a hairy new lawsuit. Oh, this ought to be good, we thought!
Somehow, Miscavige left all that good stuff out. We've taken about four minutes from the video so you can see how he characterized the new building...
Miscavige gave this presentation in October, giving the impression that the org was open for business with its "more than 200 staff."
In November, when we went by to see for ourselves, it was a different story.
The building, formerly an Art Deco 1930s masterpiece known as the Alhambra theater, has indeed been restored to its former glory by an Arab Islamic contractor from Nazareth named Naif Salati, who is now suing Scientology. Salati's attorney, Eitan Erez, told me that Salati was shorted millions of shekels in the renovation. Salati was also never told that it was Scientology he was doing the renovation for. He was hired by a man named Gur Finkelstein, who purported to be the sole owner. In fact, Finkelstein was an attorney fronting for Scientology as the church attempted to get a toehold in Tel-Aviv/Jaffa.
Finkelstein himself turned out to be quite a piece of work. As we've written previously, Finkelstein is in jail awaiting trial on multiple counts of attempted murder and attempted arson as he allegedly tried to have the building burned down twice; he is also accused of trying to have killed a municipal official who opposed part of the building's expansion, a man who is married to his ex-wife, and a witness to the fire-bombings.
Even with Finkelstein in jail and Salati suing, the building is finished and ready for business, but when we visited in November, it still hadn't opened its doors. Scientology was waiting for a government office to give it a permit to allow in the public. Unlike the U.S., Israel is one of those countries that doesn't automatically roll over if you call yourself a church on the way to taking money out of people with claims of giving them superpowers. (I'm checking on the current status of the building and the lawsuit.)
After celebrating one "Ideal Org" with issues, Miscavige then turns to another, the recently-opened facility in Inglewood, California, which is Scientology's most ambitious effort yet to get a few black people into what is otherwise a lily-white enterprise. (Harlem has an org, but I was just told by a fellow reporter that it has a total of 9 members, and we've documented Scientology's strange alliance with the Nation of Islam, which can't end well.)
We felt we must share with you Miscavige's performance as he transitions from talking about the new Jaffa org to the one in Inglewood. Prepare to cringe...
Awkward, Dave. Awkward.
Let's see that quote again: "Talk about a permeating and penetrating culture. Or to put it another way, most white folks wouldn't have a clue what it means to be cool if it weren't for Black America."
Earth to Miscavige: Black people are cool? Well, why do you think none of them have joined your superpowers club? Think about it.
Anyway, after showing scenes of the fancy new building, the requisite crowd shot followed, but this one was aimed differently. Were they trying to catch someone in particular?
In the sea of white, you had to look pretty carefully to catch him, but those are definitely his signature chin-whiskers.
Alas, there was no Chill performance during this particular event. (And believe me, some "Dauntless, Defiant, and Resolute" would have been a welcome interruption of Miscavige's endless delivery, with his idiosyncratic use of English grammar.)
In point of emphasis on that fact, as Dave would say, we know when it's time to get off the stage. Until the next gala, here's a hip-hip-hooray for LRH and the tech!
UPDATE: Mike Rinder tells me that Miscavige does, indeed, use Teleprompters. Rinder, the former top spokesman of Scientology, says that Miscavige is filmed in such a way as to keep the prompters out of the picture. Here's the message he just sent me:
Tony -- Miscavige uses a teleprompter for EVERY speech he delivers. It's shot so you can't see the screens. But if you look again and note his rhythmic back and forth, left to right, right to left it is a giveaway that someone is reading from a prompter. He has been doing it for 15 years so he has become pretty good at disguising it. He is using a teleprompter -- nobody could remember those idiotically constructed sentences written by Dan Sherman and if you tried to talk like that contemporaneously you would get tongue tied and confuse yourself and not be able to complete a sentence (sometimes the case even with the teleprompters). I coined this "speech speech," "Shermanspeak."
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
[Paulette Cooper, Scientology's original and worst nightmare: a Thanksgiving tribute]
HELD ABOARD THE FREEWINDS: TALES OF THE SEA ORG
[Valeska Paris, held against her will from 1996 to 2007 on Scientology's cruise ship]
[Ramana Dienes-Browning, marriage at 16, sexual interrogation, life in the engine room]
[Melissa Paris, Valeska's sister: forced to marry at 16]
SCIENTOLOGY VS. SOUTH PARK: INVESTIGATION AS RETALIATION
[Scientology targeted South Park's Parker and Stone in an investigation]
[More documents in the South Park probe: instructions to send in a young mole]
[Scientology responds in typical fashion] | [Lloyd Kaufman confirms the probe]
[Mark Ebner also investigated after South Park involvement]
[Mark Chauppetta, private eye, explains what Scientology operatives look for]
MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS
[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]
SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"
[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]
SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES
[Hey, Scientology Celebrity, Here's Your Media Training Checksheet!]
[Tom Cruise and X Factor's Stacy Francis singing together on the Freewinds]
[X Factor's Stacy Francis: Her first husband, Michael Sandlofer, answers abuse claims]
[Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay]
["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]
JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]
HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
["The Money Machine": another blockbuster St. Pete Times investigation]
[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]
[Scientology in Israel: Arson, attempted murder, paranoia -- and a visit by the Voice!]
[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]
[Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]
ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS
[Scientology chillin' with hip hop!] | [The curious career of Scientology rapper Chill EB]
[Chill EB and me: the Voice interviews Scientology's in-house rapper]
[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]
THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Desperate Scientology fundraising caught on video]