Rabbi Takes Evangelical Pastors on Propaganda Tour of Azerbaijan

Rabbi Marc Schneier (Photo: ISNA HQ/Flickr)

For several years, the government of Azerbaijan and its diplomats overseas have gone to great lengths to win over Jews worldwide, American Jewish organizations and Israel.

Azerbaijan is simply copying Turkey’s sinister behavior that until recently wooed Jewish organizations in the United States and Israel’s government to block the passage of a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Many Jewish groups ended their immoral cooperation with Turkey, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began making anti-Semitic statements and threatening Israel.

Just like Turkey, Azerbaijan’s outreach to Jewish organizations and Israel is based on the typical anti-Semitic belief that Jews control American politicians, and it is therefore in Azerbaijan’s interest to be on the good side of ‘powerful’ Jews. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “many countries nurture their relationship to Israel in hopes of finding favor with influential American Jewish organizations who will in turn speak well of them to the U.S. government.”

Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s pro-Jewish efforts are based on the fact that it purchases billions of dollars of modern weapons from Israel. In return, Azerbaijan sells a large amount of oil to Israel. There have been also intelligence reports that Azerbaijan has provided Israel with several bases on its border with Iran, should Israel decide to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The latest example of the collaboration between American Jewish leaders and Azerbaijan is the visit to Baku on March 3-8 by a group of U.S. evangelical pastors led by New York-based Orthodox Rabbi Marc Schneier “to promote interfaith dialogue and highlight cooperation with Israel,” according to the Associated Press (AP). This was the first ever evangelical delegation to visit the Muslim Shiite nation. The Rabbi described Azerbaijan as “the most beloved and respected Muslim country in the eyes of the Jewish American community,” reported Trend, an Azeri news agency. Schneier spoke at an event in the U.S. Congress last year celebrating the close friendship between Azerbaijan and Israel.

The group of 12 U.S. evangelical pastors met Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, the foreign minister, Muslim Sheikhs, local church leaders and Israel’s ambassador. Rabbi Schneier told the AP that Pres. Aliyev “announced during the delegation’s visit that the country’s first-ever Jewish cultural center would be built in Baku with Kosher dining options and a hotel to accommodate Jewish guests.” Schneier heads the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding based in New York and founded the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, New York. As a sign of their cozy relationship, Azerbaijan’s national airline flies directly to Tel Aviv; Pres. Aliyev also hosted Israel’s prime minister in 2016. Not surprisingly, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov took advantage of his meeting with the evangelical leaders to disparage Armenia and distort the facts of the Artsakh conflict. He said, “the recent statements of the Armenian leadership highlighted that such statements undermine the peace process.”

Pastor Adam Mesa, who leads the Abundant Living Family Church in Rancho Cucamonga, California, told the AP that it was his first time in a Muslim majority country. The pastor said he was encouraged to take part in the trip because of Azerbaijan’s supportive Israeli stance and interreligious efforts. “It’s incredible that a Muslim majority country is the one that has to actually lead the charge on religious dialogue and community and solidarity.”

Rabbi Schneier confirmed to the AP the political agenda behind the religious group’s visit: “from a political point of view, listen there is no question you know that Azerbaijan is looking to strengthen its relationship with the U.S. administration, with the United States Congress. Israel is very much a conduit to that.”

As in the case of Cong. Alcee Hastings, Azerbaijan seems to have picked another disgraced individual to disseminate its propaganda. The 60 year-old Rabbi Schneier has been married six times, the last on March 2017. In February 2018, the state of Florida ordered Schneier to pay $5,000 a month for $64,594 in unpaid child support he owed to his third wife for the care of their 19 year-old son. Rabbi Schneier was expelled in June 2015 by the Rabbinical Council of America for breaching the code of ethics by carrying on an extramarital relationship. In June 2010, the Rabbi announced to his congregation that he was suffering from “bipolar disorder.”

According to Wikipedia, “under pressure from his congregation for his multiple divorces and philandering, Schneier resigned in 2016 from his pulpit position at the Hampton Synagogue, which he had founded in 1990. Congregants had threatened to withhold pledges and payments until he left the synagogue.”

The New York Post reported that after cheating on his third wife, Rabbi Schneier in 2006 married Tobi Rubinstein, “a sexy worshipper,” who became wife number four. “In 2010, Tobi hired a private investigator who turned up explicit photos of her husband and Gitty Leiner, a then-30-something worshipper, getting hot and heavy in the Holy Land on what Schneier had told his wife was a routine business trip. Marriage No. 4 ended in divorce soon after.” The Rabbi ended up marrying Gitty Leiner in 2013—wife number five. The couple had a child in 2014, “but then in 2015, Schneir was caught dining out in Queens with sexy young Simi Teitelbaum” who became his sixth wife in 2017. Interestingly, The Post reported that “Schneier explained away his unholy extramarital hookups by saying he was mentally ill and seeking treatment.”

Rabbi’s ex-wife Toby Gotesman told the Post: “When I left him, he was making $800,000… that included a $500,000 salary, plus hundreds of thousands in additional compensation, including mortgage payments on his 5,000-square-foot Westhampton Beach home, said to be valued at around $3 million.”

Rabbi Schneier’s visit to Azerbaijan last week was not his first. He has been there several times in recent years on propaganda tours. One wonders if the Rabbi has received any compensation from Pres. Aliyev for his ‘valuable’ services. His multiple trips to Azerbaijan make the Rabbi look more like a lobbyist for Azerbaijan than a religious figure.

I would urge Armenian evangelical church leaders to contact the 12 pastors who visited Baku last week in order to counter the propaganda they were fed against Armenia and Artsakh. I would also like to know if these pastors and Rabbi Schneier came back from Baku with suitcases full of the usual Azeri “gifts” of caviar, rugs, and other valuable items.


Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the United Armenian Fund, a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American organizations. He has been decorated by the president and prime minister of the Republic of Armenia, and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. Armenians, American-Armenians in particular, deserve every bit of spit they get on their faces by their beloved Americans of Christian and Jewish extraction…

    • “Armenians, American-Armenians in particular, deserve every bit of spit they get on their faces by their beloved Americans of Christian and Jewish extraction…”
      – What makes you say that?

  2. “Concerned Armenian” wow, really you hate Armenians and you consider yourself one of us. I don’t think you know the abundant sacrifices my people have made since forever just because honor and truth cannot be compromised…What’s right is right. You’re a disgrace. Shame on you, sorry excuse for a human being!

  3. no matter what they do, we should focus on becoming more united, work on getting stronger and more successful, a good start would be to unite the dialects, no more eastern and western versions, and just simply Arian, next no more, hayastantsi, and diaspora, but instead just arian, regardless of where you are born, you are an ari, and how about uniting our education system which should be channeled from the motherland and accessible to every ari child, whether they can pay the tuition or not, or live in a remote region where there are no arian schools, how about a tv network dedicated to arian children that is interesting to the modern children, to forge deep ties to the motherland, how about no more ajakoghian/dzakhakoghian, religious biases, how about we work on ourselves to become model world citizens, enough with focusing on what the others are doing, lets turn our attentions inward, it is impossible to annihilate pests, and that’s just what the ilham aliyevs of the world are

  4. “Anti-Semitic”?

    Jews are not the only Semites; Arabs and Assyrians are also Semites. It also seems that very few people are aware that this ridiculous term (anti-Semitic/anti-Semite) was invented by a Zionist; and, he invented this term only for the Jews. The reason, obviously, was to make it seem that being anti-Jewish is enormously more offensive than being anti-Mexican, or anti-Black, or anti-Arab, or anti-Japanese, or anti-Armenian, etc. The correct term is “anti-Jewish.”

  5. Who can say what this reprobate deserves. On the other hand with six Jewish ex-wives one might say he’s already living in hell.

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