Pundit David Ha’ivri has written a profound criticism of the Jewish Press Online, which I heartily recommend: (Activist: Jewish Press Online Chided Israel’s friends while Legitimizing Progressive Jewish Groups).
Here is my response, in my capacity as Front Page Editor:
It is quite possible even for the Jewish Press online edition to be wrong, and when we are, we welcome criticism.
We weren’t wrong in this instance, though.
First, we had already dealt with this story only a few days earlier, in two articles published July 20th: “Michelle Bachmann Doubles Down on Muslim Brotherhood Infesting US Government Charge,” and “Is Weiner Running for Mayor? Show Me the Money…” So that the JTA story we “copied and pasted” came within a context with which our readers were familiar.
Incidentally, JPress editors rarely copy and paste a JTA story mindlessly, if only for the fact that we receive 39 whacks every time we let slip a reference to the “West Bank” instead of “Judea and Samaria.”
So that when you write: “Also surprising and disappointing is the fact that The Jewish Press mentioned in passing that this Muslim woman, who is a top aide to Secretary of State Clinton, is married to a former congressman who himself happens to be Jewish. It does not mention that this man brought shame on himself and was impeached for sending pictures of his private parts to young women via text messages” – we didn’t because we had just done it the other day. Twice.
Personally, I honestly and completely believe that Michelle Bachman is several tea cups short of a party. She has been known to make bizarre statements which rarely stand up to scrutiny. All of America recalls the GOP debate when Bachman went after Texas Governor Rick Perry for his 2007 executive order mandating that young girls in Texas be vaccinated against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease and one that can lead to cervical cancer.
Bachman actually said: “To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. That’s a violation of a liberty interest.”
She then told NBC’s “Today” show: “I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Fla., after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”
Except the congresswoman was unable to identify that tearful mother, nor substantiate with any known medical authority a connection between the vaccine and mental retardation. It was a stern reminder that perhaps the U.S. primary system is not as good a way of picking leaders as we thought.
You write: “When I looked into the backgrounds of these ‘Jewish’ organizations, I was even more surprised – and disappointed – that an established and respected Jewish publication like The Jewish Press would give a platform to groups like The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and The Society for Humanistic Judaism.”
I don’t think it’s our job as a news website to decide who is and isn’t entitled to be called Jewish. In a broader context we could point out the subtle distinctions between a Shomer Shabbes Yid from Flatbush and anyone from either of the above mentioned organizations. But in a story that’s about a blip on the political radar screen – Congresswoman made a wild, unsubstantiated attack, a bunch of organizations including Jewish ones registered their objection – citing those distinctions doesn’t make much sense. Plus, our readers are smart enough to know the difference.
But near the end, you write something truly scary: “The person mentioned in the representatives’ inquiry is not a very observant Muslim, and the inquiry did not refer in any way to her religious observance. What was in question is her very close family relationship to leading figures in the Muslim Brotherhood.”
I don’t respond well to guilt by association. I think it’s cheap. It doesn’t show concern, it’s a permanent call for pitchforks and torches and let’s kill the bastards.
Don’t get me wrong, as a husband and a father I’m in favor of racial profiling in some cases, when it means police get to do a better job protecting all of us—at the expense or inconvenience of some individuals. I’ve been pulled off lines at airports because of my helmet-size, black yarmulke and my suspicious beard, I know the drill.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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