Last week a left-wing blogger reacted with some indignation to Steven Plaut’s inaugural post on the new Jewish Press blog (shameless plug #1 – you’ll find The Jewish Press Blog at www.thejewishpress.blogspot.com)
That was the blogger’s right, of course, and the Monitor has no issue with that. The problem was the blogger’s predictably dishonest characterization of The Jewish Press.
After dispensing with the obligatory insult, calling The Jewish Press “America’s trashiest Orthodox Jewish newspaper,” the blogger – no need to give him additional publicity by naming him; that information is available on (shameless plug #2) The Jewish Press Blog – writes that the paper is “renowned for excusing the improprieties of rabbinic child molesters and instead attacking their whistleblowers…”
How dishonest is this blogger? The Jewish Press has never – not once – excused any abuser or molester, rabbinic or otherwise. To the contrary; the paper has for years run articles, columns and features on all manner of abuse in the Orthodox community in the face of a number of cancelled subscriptions and threats of advertiser boycotts by people who don’t think an Orthodox newspaper should publicize such sordid reality.
(It was in response to reader discomfort that the paper several years ago moved articles of that nature into a pullout section so that concerned parents could easily separate it from the rest of the paper.)
The blogger’s disingenuousness is further indicated by his use of a hyperlink when he referred to The Jewish Press’s attacks on whistleblowers – but not when he accused the paper of “excusing…rabbinic child molesters.” The reason for that should be obvious – he couldn’t find any such link.
While the paper has indeed editorialized against granting legitimacy to anonymous accusations and anonymous fliers containing unsubstantiated charges, it has, as noted above, never excused abuse or abusers. But by placing that lie in the same sentence with the hyperlinked reference to our editorial stance against anonymous accusations, the blogger planted the impression in readers’ minds that both statements are accurate.
That this blogger knows better can be ascertained by his own words. Last May, The Jewish Press ran an op-ed piece, written by a concerned New Jersey mother, titled “Education Without Strings.” The article minced no words in criticizing yeshivas on a variety of fronts – including their lack of accountability in hiring teachers with questionable backgrounds. Here’s a relevant section of the piece:
“We are all aware of the current controversies involving teachers with questionable backgrounds – controversies that often include allegations of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Why are we exposing our children to teachers who have been accused but not investigated? What if allegations about an individual teacher happen to be true and our children are being abused under our very noses?”
Two days after the article appeared on our website and in our print edition, our friend the blogger posted the following comment on his blog, followed by a link to the article in question:
“My sister…wrote an op-ed in this week’s Jewish Press, which, responding to the recent Kolko controversy, presents a laundry list of concerns from Orthodox parents about how their money’s being spent and who’s being allowed to teach their children…”
Well, who’d have thunk it? Leave aside the delicious irony that the writer of the article happened to be this blogger’s very own sister. Did you notice that the blogger himself made the point that the piece was a response “to the recent Kolko controversy”? And how come he didn’t call The Jewish Press “America’s trashiest Orthodox Jewish newspaper” when he was trumpeting its publication of his sister’s article?
If the blogger were sincere, and even if he knew nothing else about The Jewish Press (which of course he does), just the fact that the paper would feature an article like the one written by his sister should have been enough to disabuse him of any notion that it was interested in whitewashing or “excusing” abuse in the Orthodox community. And her piece was only one of dozens The Jewish Press has run in recent years addressing problems all too many Orthodox Jews would rather ignore.
But what does the Monitor know? When not writing this column, he’s just the senior editor of “America’s trashiest Orthodox Jewish newspaper” (the one that ran the article by the blogger’s sister that the blogger was only too proud to plug) and a contributor to (shameless plug #3) The Jewish Press Blog (www.thejewishpress.blogspot.com).