Moshe Aryeh Friedman was born in Brooklyn in 1972. He grew up in the ultra-orthodox Satmar sect, a small radical right-wing Jewish sect that is virulently anti-Zionist.
He left the US and in 2005 eventually settled in Vienna. He called himself a rabbi, but no religious authority accepted his title. He had no congregation.
In Vienna, he aligned himself with the Freedom Party, an extreme right wing Party with neo-Nazi overtones. As a result, he was expelled by the Board of the Vienna Jewish Community.
In 2006 he became famous.
He participated in Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial conference in Tehran. While at that conference, he also publicly called for the destruction of the State of Israel. There are photos of Friedman hugging and kissing Ahmadinejad.
He and his family lived in Iran for six months. The Iranian government paid him to stay there. He was called Ahmadinejad’s pet Jew.
Later in 2006, he met with Hamas official Atef Adwan in Stockholm. He announced his intention of building a coalition between Hamas and anti- Zionist Jews to bring about Israel's destruction.
Hamas maintains in its charter that it is the religious duty of Muslims to kill all of the Jews in the world.
Friedman’s friendship with Holocaust deniers, Ahmadinejad, fundamentalist Muslims and Hamas did not go down well with any Jews, religious or secular.
He became a pariah for all of the orthodox Jewish world.
In 2007, Friedman sued the Viennese Jewish community after three of his daughters were expelled from a private Jewish school. Friedman said it was because of his trip to Tehran; the school cited unpaid fees. He lost.
In 2009 Friedman was back in the news. This time for a different reason. He gave an interview to VIN, an American orthodox newspaper. The orthodox Jewish world had ostracized him. He wanted back in, so he gave a conciliatory interview.
He apologized for the Holocaust-denial conference. He was a changed man, he said.
Friedman still believed in reaching out to Muslim leaders, but now wanted to tell them different things: “Say that Jews must be protected. Represent Jewish feelings. Don’t go with anti-Zionism, but with a practical-pro Zionism, and not in the theological/biblical sense.”
His change of heart did not last long. Friedman could not remain just an anonymous, poor Jew. He was a provocateur and soon back to his old tricks.
In 2011, Friedman settled in Antwerp. As a Belgian national, his wife was entitled to family and child benefits. The orthodox community did not want him. In the Flemish Jewish media he was referred to as the “mad rabbi”.
When no Haredi schools would admit his sons, Friedman tried to enroll them in schools for girls. That failed, too, so he sued. Then he sued an all-boys yeshiva in Antwerp for denying admission to his daughters.
He started a one-man war against the orthodox Jewish schools in Antwerp. He used the argument of gender discrimination to drag them through the courts. Gender separation is one of the tenets of all ultra-orthodox Judaism. The form of Judaism that he adheres to. He did win in the lower courts, but the higher courts overturned the verdict.
Friedman's ostracization by the Jewish world made him more sympathetic for anti-Semites and Israel-haters. Jew-haters flocked to his cause. He became the Jew-haters favourite Jew. He and his wife did not work. They had eight children. He lived off donations and state benefits.
His attacks on Belgium’s orthodox Jews intensified. The media could not believe their luck. A man who dressed as an orthodox Jew but trashed Jews. A Jew who agreed with the anti-Semites.
In 2013 he was in the news again. He called for a new investigation into a nine year old murder of an Antwerp orthodox Jew. He maintained that the man was murdered by a mafia type conspiracy of leading orthodox Jews. He had no proof so nothing came of his ranting. However, he achieved his goal. He had slandered Antwerp Jews and got his name in the newspapers again.
Begin August 2014 he gave an interview to a Belgian magazine. In the interview he maintained that Jewish schools in Antwerp indoctrinated youth to go and fight in Gaza. He claimed that since the new round of fighting in operation Protective Edge, 50 to 100 Jewish youth had left to fight in Gaza. He further ranted against Jewish "sharia schools". He compared the orthodox community to IS.
Israel and Israelis were worse than IS. According to him, the “genocide” in Gaza was unique because it targeted children. It was a stream of hatred that was comparable to a blog on the Nazi Stormfront site
A few weeks later the “Forum of Jewish Organizations” in Antwerp issued a statement about Friedman. They called Friedman a “pseudo-rabbi”. They wrote that he had never been seen in an Antwerp synagogue. That he had never visited a kosher shop. They accused him of pretending to be an orthodox Jew to promote his personal and political agenda.
Later in 2014 he is in the news again. He showed up in support of Jejou Bentinck who was standing trial for terrorism after fighting in Syria. Bentinck’s father says Friedman supports Israel, so his son cannot be a terrorist.
After that it became relatively quiet around Friedman. What is he doing nowadays?
Religious authorities throughout the Jewish world have proclaimed that he is not recognized as a Rabbi or Chief Rabbi. All Jewish communities have ostracized him.
So, he has reinvented himself away from Jews.
He is on Facebook.
Gone are the Satmar clothes, hair and beard. In their place, snappy clothes, a neat beard and expensive Borsalino Jewish fedora hats. His hats really are expensive. He is now a peace activist. A Jewish guru rabbi. Promoted himself to Chief Rabbi of something that he invented, the Forum for Jewish Dialogue Belgium. His "forum" is a front for donations.
He has been successful. On Facebook he has 4,998 friends. Mainly official figures in Europe, but still a lot of average people who may or may not know his history. He likes to travel. On Facebook he has photos of himself in expensive hotels.
He calls himself Chief Rabbi but is not recognized by any religious authority and has no congregation. He does not pray in any synagogue and visits no kosher shops. He is a cheerleader for those who kill Jews for being Jews in Israel.
He seems to be making a good living and enjoying his new life.