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Scientology Leader David Miscavige Digs Israel; BONUS: Black People are Cool! (UPDATED)

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?

Yes! There, in the second row, was none other than our friend Chill EB!

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.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


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