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June 29, 2016 / 23 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Daily News’

NY Daily News ‘Kosher’ Headline is Treif

Monday, April 8th, 2013

A New York Daily News headline writer needs a quick course in kosher dietary laws after an overly cute headline tried to get across the message that moose lasagna is not kosher if pork is used.

As most Jews and many non-Jews know, Jewish law forbids eating milk products and meat products together. Even if the moose meat were slaughtered according to Jewish law, mixing it with a cheese lasagna is as kosher as a ham on cheese sandwich.

The offending non-kosher item was pork, which the Daily News reported was found in batch sample of moose lasagna served up in IKEA stores in Europe.

The Daily News began its headline blurb with “Kosher wanted?” and then followed it with the report of  the discovery of pork, which is a forbidden food not only for Jews but also for Muslims, whose European population is more than 45 million.

The newspaper explained that moose meat is common in Sweden home of IKEA, but is not usually used in lasagna.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Weberman Found Guilty

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Satmar Rabbi Nechemya Weberman was found guilty of 59 counts of sexual abuse in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Monday.

Sentencing is set to begin January 9. Weberman faces up to 25 years in prison for one of the charges and may face even more by the time the sentencing hearings are completed.

The trial hinged on the testimony of an 18-year old girl who said Weberman was abusing her for years while she received counseling from him, starting from when she was 12.

The NY Daily News reported that she testified that “she was forced to perform oral sex and reenact porn scenes during closed-door counseling sessions that started in 2007.”

Weberman was not a licensed counselor.

The two-week trial was said to highlight how the Satmar community enforced its modesty and sexuality requirements.

The victim said she was referred to Weberman for counseling by her yeshiva because she broke modesty rules and asked critical theological questions.

The victim further testified that while she was under Weberman’s supervision, “I wanted to die,” the Daily News reported.

Weberman’s attorney Stacey Richman said the girl was a liar and that he would appeal.

The Satmar community also came under scrutiny throughout the ordeal because community fundraisers were held in support of Weberman and members of the community allegedly approached the victim seeking to pay her off to drop the claims.

Jewish Press News Briefs

The End of the Alternative Media

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012


The death of the Village Voice has drawn out a coterie of mourners bowing their heads over the venerable radical rag, but their orations at its funeral are completely wasted. The death of the Voice is not due to mismanagement, the right wing or its complicity in human trafficking. After all, its former competitor, the New York Press, which forced it to go free instead of charging a buck fifty, died fairly recently. The end of the Village Voice has to be seen in the context of the death of alternative media.

The passing of the Village Voice, its thick greasy pages smudged with desperate cries for attention in between glossy cigarette ads and phone sex ads, also coincides with the passing of the bohemian nature of the East Village, now little more than tall glowering condos and coffee shops. To those residents who showed up there in the 70’s and 80’s bearing art school portfolios and a burning desire to be part of the “Scene”, it’s one more triumph of the capitalist running dogs over the “People”.

But the real reason that the Village Voice is dead is because the alternative media is dead and the alternative media is dead because there is nothing for it to be an alternative to. New Yorkers can just as easily read shrill rants about the NYPD in the Daily News, pretentious movie reviews for artsy films at The Onion and leftist denunciations of the War on Terror in the New York Times.

The way that the Village Voice used to cover Republicans is now the way that every media outlet, but the handful that aren’t part of the liberal collective, covers Republicans. Every mainstream media outlet is opposed to fighting terrorism, opposed to the police and opposed to any notion of balance in reporting. And every outlet is churning out the same tired 24/7 coverage of something provocative a Republican allegedly said because every outlet wants to be the Village Voice, the ink-stained pamphleteer on the corner screaming about capitalist pigs before heading off to a concert at CBGB’s, also as dead as the Village Voice and the rest of the East Village.

Newsweek, once the paragon of middlebrow inoffensiveness, now does the kind of covers that the Village Voice used to do. It still hasn’t run a picture of Bush drinking the blood out of the green neck of the Statue of Liberty, but, if Romney wins, you can expect that as the March cover. And by then even that might be considered tame.

If anyone deserves credit for killing the Village Voice, it’s George W. Bush, who was its unwitting cover boy more often than Obama has appeared on the cover of Essence. Under Bush the entire media became alternative and the alternative media became supplementary to requirements. When mainstream newspapers give positive reviews to books and movies that envision Bush’s assassination, cheerlead anti-war rallies run by militant Trotskyites and demand unilateral surrender in the War on Terror what possible territory is left for the alternative media to explore?

All that was left for the alternative media was to run yet another profile of a new bar where people drink the tears of Ecuadoran children purchased through fair trade while looking at themselves doing it in video monitors as an artistic commentary on capitalism. And these days that’s what the internet is for. A culture eager to document itself doing everything, take photos of the food on its plate, review the movie on Twitter while watching it and run a blog about its streetcorner is in no need of an alternative paper to kludgily do these things for it at a snail’s pace.

The same forces that swamped the Village with Obama-supporting hedge fund managers who wanted a place with trendy bars that made them feel like artists also killed the Village Voice. The death of the mainstream meant the embrace of the alternative. With no standards left in any paper, every paper and magazine became the Village Voice, but with a subscription price and better quality control. The Village Voice became a classifieds section for people looking to rent a room, find a concert or rape a Ukrainian teenager– and Craigslist was busy destroying that business model.

Daniel Greenfield

Letters To The Editor

Friday, February 20th, 2004

Case Study

Memo to reader Joan Borenstein, whose anti-Bush rant was an amazing case study in liberal denial (‘Jail to the Chief?’ Letters, Jan. 16):

The governments of Germany, Russia, France, England, Israel and China were in agreement with the U.S. that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. The Clinton administration was convinced Iraq not only had WMD, but would use them sooner or later.

Most of the Democratic presidential nominees, along with nearly all of their party’s leaders, believed Saddam was stockpiling WMD. I’m referring to Dick Gephardt, Wesley Clark, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, and even Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

It may turn out that the intelligence information of so many nations was inaccurate, but with all the evidence seemingly pointing to a ruthless, expansionist tyrant with an ever-increasing arsenal, it was necessary to remove that tyrant from power once and for all. And if by so doing we sent a message to the other despots, warlords and terror masters in the region, all the better.

I worked very hard to help defeat President George H.W. Bush in 1992. I plan to work just as hard to help ensure his son’s reelection later this year.

Elliott Mintz
(Via E-Mail)

Enemies ‘R’ Us

I was dumbfounded at the concerns raised by Joan Borenstein in her letter to the editor. She’s concerned about what she alleges is harsh treatment accorded to Muslims in the U.S. after Sept. 11, 2001. She is further infuriated by President Bush’s refusal to actively push Israelis to make concessions, ala the Geneva Accord or some other monstrosity paraded around the world by non-elected representatives of Israel. And she is most aggrieved that this president had the gall to alienate the Arab world by his ‘disrespectful treatment of the elected leader of the Palestinian people, Mr. Arafat.’

I don’t know what to do first – laugh or cry. Is she serious? Does she really think that moral, thinking people should worry whether proper respect is being accorded the godfather of modern terrorism, whose aim is the annihilation of all Jews (be they left, right or center; secular or religious)?

Instead of concentrating all her energies on fighting the Islamofascists, she is concerned about their fair treatment! I have come to the sad conclusion that many of our fellow Jews are indeed
our worst enemies. Their self-hatred, and their driving need to castigate themselves for just being alive, will doom us all.

Adina Kutnicki
Elmwood Park, NJ

Disagrees On Powell

Re your Jan. 16 editorial ‘The Secretary’s Message’:

I certainly do not agree that Secretary of State Powell’s defense of Prime Minster Sharon’s policy regarding the security fence is a message to the Palestinians that time is running out for them.

The fact that Powell unequivocally placed the blame for the lack of progress toward negotiations at the doorstep of the Palestinian Authority was, of course, most welcome. If the past is any guide, however, we will soon be getting a dose of equivocation from Mr. Powell, and that is what the Palestinians expect.

Shifra Silver
(Via E-Mail)

Liberty Controversy

It is inconceivable to me that documents that prove that Israel did not intentionally target the USS Liberty would have been locked up in a safe somewhere for almost 40 years (news story and editorial, Jan. 16). More than likely they have been doctored – or perhaps even created – in order to make a political point now.

Nor do I understand those who think that Israel should have been condemned and penalized for attacking an American ship even if the attack was intentional. The Liberty, a spy ship, was in a war zone and I recall speculation at the time about Israeli fears that the Liberty could have been funneling secret information to the Arabs in order to limit the extent of an Israeli victory for foreign policy reasons.

I doubt if we will ever know the whole truth.

Sol LeBow
Miami, FL

Torah Diplomacy

The author of the opinion piece “Orthodox Hellenism 5764” (Jewish Press, Dec.26) is a one-issue man.

The organizations taken to task by the author are involved in a myriad number of issues involving the Jewish community. The question now becomes one of priorities and when does one voice his displeasure with politicians and agendas that we do not support. Unquestionably most of the gedolim of yesteryear did not agree that the author’s one issue was the most critical one facing our community, and to say otherwise is false.

Quoting Rav Shach, zt”l, and Rav Moshe, zt”l, is intellectually dishonest, because some if not all of the organizations named had direct contact with these gedolim and the morality question was also relevant at the time, yet they did not make this issue a priority. Yes, they believed we have to fight for our interest on morality issues – but not to assail people who have been our friends on a host of other issues.

The mayor of Yerushalayim has the backing of and accessibility to the posek hador, who understands the media and political realities of the State of Israel. To speak out publicly at this time could cause more harm than good. We all know that even something said in Boro Park can be relayed to the Israeli press in a matter of minutes. To attack the mayor without knowing the directive he has been given may be an attack on the posek hador and not something the author is qualified to do.

On public issues that confront all people, the vehicle most relied on by the gedolim of yesteryear was one of quite diplomacy – while publicly expressing thank you and hakaros hatov to our friends. It is also the path used by their talmidim, our Torah leaders today. Every attack on a politician or stand made publicly can eventually be detrimental to our community and must be approved by daas Torah. All movements which veered away from the true Torah path started by attacking our rabbonim, which the author has done in his article.

As for what to answer to non-Jews sympathetic to the author’s cause who ask what ”your fellow rabbis are doing,” maybe he shouldn’t be associating with them but rather listening to what our gedolim say – even if they do not agree with his agenda or tactics.

Leib Stone
Brooklyn, NY

Indifference To Eretz Yisrael

The Jewish Press did an outstanding job by first placing Bezalel Fixler’s article “Who is a True Zionist?” on the front page of the Jan. 2 issue and then continuing the discussion very prominently in the Letters section of the Jan. 9 and Jan. 16 issues.

The theme of Eretz Yisrael as an eternal inheritance to the seed of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov is repeated so often in the Torah because it is so fundamental. The secular Zionist Jews may not have learned Torah or observed kashrut or Shabbat. However, they loved
Eretz Yisrael and made it their inheritance. Many of their children and grandchildren have become great talmidei chachamim and shomrei Torah umitzvot and part of the great baalei teshuvah movement existing in Eretz Yisrael today. Many are actively settled or settling Eretz Yisrael, loving the land and actively doing mitzvot teluyot baaretz. Unfortunately, a number of their children and grandchildren may have lost their vision, left Israel, assimilating into various cultures of the world, not understanding the kedusha of the Land of Israel and their heritage.

As for the religious Jews of Europe, many of them perished in the Holocaust because they did not go to Eretz Yisrael. Others survived and remained religious, settling all over the world while holding desperately to their heritage, opening yeshivot and batei knessiot. Many of their children and grandchildren have become great talmidei chachamim and shomrei Torah umitzvot and many are part of the great baalei teshuvah movement today and many have made
aliyah as well. Unfortunately, a number of their children and grandchildren may have lost their vision, assimilating into the various cultures of the world not quite understanding the purpose
and kedusha of the mitzvot in the Torah.

My question is as follows: For the past few years there has been talk of Oslo, and most recently the proposal of having two states, Israel and Palestine, coexisting side by side. But if Eretz Yisrael is the inheritance of the Nation of Israel, how can it be negotiated away?

Our indifference in our desire to perform the mitzvot relevant to the Land and our inaction in voicing our knowledge about who is truly in charge of the Land will seal our fate. This is a crucial time. Great opportunities are opening to us, but if we fail to respond to them the loss could be of tragic proportions

Robin Ticker
(Via E-Mail)

Advertising Works

As co-chairpersons of the Ninth Night of Chanukah Committee, we would like to thank The Jewish Press on behalf of the committee and the entire Kingsway Jewish Center family.

The ad for our children’s party celebrating the “Ninth Night of Chanukah” was an astounding success. The door sales were overwhelming, keeping three ticket sellers busy all night. The people who came were more than satisfied that their response to an ad could be so beneficial to their children.

Again, let us thank you. More than simply a financial success for the shul, it was a wonderful time for the children and their parents who watched the glow of excitement on the little faces.

Stacy Zeitz
Dianne Glickman
Brooklyn, NY

Like Them Or Not, Our Editorials Always Get Read

Sign Of Insecurity?

While I recognize that newspapers should not be exempt from criticism, I wonder at the wisdom of the Jewish Press’s recent penchant for attacking other publications in its editorials. In the past few weeks the Forward, the Jewish Week and the Daily News have been sharply criticized. I write these words in an attempt at constructive criticism, as I have come to appreciate your typically well-reasoned editorials week after week.

To my mind, a focus on other publications tends to suggest a competitiveness that can only
cheapen what you have to say. The Jewish Press should accept the reality that its advocacy of rightwing religious and political Judaism sets it apart from the Forward and the Jewish Week and that no amount of editorializing on your part is going to change those publications.

Continually harping on those differences only makes it seem that The Jewish Press is so insecure in its positions that it has to constantly prove itself.

Harold Elgarten
(Via E-Mail)


It would be nice to sometimes read in The Jewish Press an acknowledgment that stories that
reflect unfavorably on the haredi community might actually have merit. A knee-jerk defense of
everything haredi is predictable and does not help you in the credibility department.

Specifically, I think you could have found a way to say something negative about Rabbi
Grama’s unfortunate book while still criticizing the Forward’s sensationalized coverage of it.

Michelle Wein
Brooklyn, NY

Crying Anti-Semitism

I too was struck by the gross tone of the Daily News editorial critical of Assembly Speaker
Sheldon Silver’s opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s tax cut proposal. However, to impute to it – as you did in an editorial last week – a possible antiSemitic undertone is a long stretch.

Yes, the Lower East Side is known for its Jewish ethnicity, but it is also well known for
having been a hotbed of labor union activity and liberalism. So the Daily News’s characterization of Silver “as a Democrat out of the Lower East Side” could easily have been referring to the latter and not the former. The Jewish Press should be careful about crying anti-Semitism whenever a Jew is criticized.

David Warren
(Via E-Mail)

At Last, A Kind Word

It may interest you to know that The Jewish Press is the subject of much Internet chatter. Your editorials seem to be of particular interest, and you should be proud that they are regularly cited as counterpoints to challenges to traditional Orthodoxy. I find that The Jewish Press stands alone in that role.

Brett Lyons
New York, NY

Editor’s Response: Reader Harold Elgarten reminds us of the ziburah v’akhraba dilemma recorded in the Gemara (Hagigah 5a) about one who is bitten by both a wasp and a scorpion. The remedy for a wasp’s bite is hot water, while for the bite of a scorpion cold water is indicated.

As a newspaper, we certainly believe in the broadest possible latitude for the
expression of opinion, and we respect opinions that differ from ours. But this does
not mean that everything that is said must go unchallenged.

In our view, what the Forward, Jewish Week and Daily News had to say on the
occasions mentioned above required a response on behalf of our community. Not to
have said anything would have amounted to acquiescence in views that, to our way of
thinking, are way off base. It is unfortunately the case that while Orthodox Jewry has
developed an expensive and expansive organizational system, its leading lights are
strangely mute when the community is demeaned, particularly by the Forward or
the Jewish Week.

We can assure our readers that competitiveness or insecurity plays no role in our editorials. Self-respect and a sense of responsibility where others fear to tread,
however, play very big ones.

Reader Michelle Wein is just plain wrong. If she read our editorial on the subject two weeks ago, she would know that we did indeed lament the fact that the author of the book in question did not take the special care required when exploring very complicated and potentially incendiary issues. The bottom line, though, is that we
felt the problem lay more in the Forward’s sensationalizing of material taken out of
context and seeking to portray the haredi community as the book writ large.

As for Reader David Warren, we just read more significance than he does into the
Daily News’s choice of the words “out of the Lower East Side” and “congenital.”

(We should note that an op-ed in this past Tuesday’s Daily News focused on concerns similar to those raised by Assembly Speaker Silver and which triggered the News’s intemperate – “gross,” as reader Warren himself puts it – attack.)

Self-Centered For Good Reason

I agree with reader Doug Fischler that your Jan. 2 editorial was wrong in suggesting that Libya
may have announced its intention to disarm in order to pressure Israel (Letters, Jan. 9). Libya
would not disarm solely for this reason because it would be giving up too much without adequate assurance of achieving the desired effect.

Nonetheless, while agreeing with Mr. Fischler that the editorial’s assertion was wrong, I
completely disagree with him that it was an unreasonable one. He seems to have ignored the
fact that, predictably, all the Arab countries, in unison, are demanding that Israel disarm. I think it is quite understandable that someone might consider that to be the motive – especially given that the international community has quite a record for taking up the Arab cause.

Therefore I think it is unwarranted for Mr. Fischler to psychoanalyze the writer of the editorial and accuse him of writing from feelings of Jewish “self-centeredness.” On the other hand, the
fact that Mr. Fischler unleashes such an accusation certainly might be worth a little

Regarding Mr. Fischler’s accusation that “many Jews believe that the world revolves around
them”: I actually am one of those “self-centered” ones and I’m proud to admit it. In fact, for me
personally, it is the principal rational reason I have for believing in the authenticity of Judaism.

When I look at G-d’s promise in the Torah, over 3,000 years ago, that the Jews will be
scattered across the world, persecuted but never destroyed; and then follow the course of history as so many superpowers attempt to destroy the Jews and fail (superpowers which are no more), I feel “self-centered.”

When I see that this same Torah has been adopted (albeit altered) by many other faiths including two of the world’s largest religions, and when I consider the massive impact Jews have had on civilization (despite their numerical insignificance), yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When the State of Israel, in its infant years, is attacked repeatedly, mercilessly and
simultaneously by several countries and miraculously survives, yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When I see that the annihilation of the Jews was such a central theme of World War Two and
that the Israeli-Palestinian problem is constantly cited as the cause of terrorism – the present world war in which we are engaged – yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When a poll suggests that a majority of Europeans believe that Israel is the number one
threat to world peace (when in actuality it is probably Europe’s perception of Jews and Israel
that is a large part of the threat to world peace), yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When I see the most civilized countries in the world become completely irrational in their
application of double standards to Israel as a result of their blind hatred, yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When the United Nations condemns Israel in every resolution, this after the whole world turned a blind eye while six million Jews were murdered, yes, I feel “self-centered.”

Mr. Fischler would do well to read Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews. Mr. Johnson is a
well-respected, non-Jewish historian who thinks it would be very reasonable for a person to conclude that the world revolves around the Jews.

Maybe Mr. Fischler shouldn’t look with such disdain at those of us who subscribe to such a view.

Jonny Black
Pomona, NY

Letters to the Editor

Differing Takes On Bush-Abbas

Wednesday, August 27th, 2003

How went the Bush-Abbas meeting at the White House last Friday? Depends on whom or what you read. Most newspapers highlighted Bush’s criticism of Israel’s security wall while relegating to secondary status the president’s sharp words to Abbas about the necessity of halting Palestinian terror. A random sampling:

Though the Boston Globe trumpeted its piece “Bush Faults Israel on West Bank Wall,” staff writer John Donnelly offered a nuanced report, opening with: “President Bush, welcoming a Palestinian leader to the White House for the first time since he took office two and a half years ago, criticized Israel yesterday for building a security wall in the West Bank, but also insisted three times that the most important factor in advancing Mideast peace was the Palestinians’ ability to stop terror attacks.”

The New York Times was relatively even-handed in its coverage, with reporter Richard W. Stevenson writing: “The president suggested that he was supportive of the Palestinians on one topic raised by Mr. Abbas: Israel’s construction of a security fence that is cutting into Palestinian areas on the west Bank. But he said the onus was on Mr. Abbas to clamp down on terrorist activities by Palestinian groups, and he rebuffed calls by Palestinians for Israel to release as many as 6,000 prisoners it is holding, many accused by Israel of taking part in
terrorist activities.”

The worst of the reports examined by the Monitor was a monstrosity of unbalanced journalism that appeared in the New York Daily News. Wrote Kenneth Bazinet of the News’s Washington Bureau: “President Bush slammed Israel yesterday for building a security fence in the West Bank, but also refused to push for the release of more Palestinian prisoners.”

“Slammed?” Talk about overheated – and grossly inaccurate – wording. Bazinet didn’t stop there, painting a word picture of a White House ‘miffed’ at Sharon for ‘ignor[ing] U.S. demands’ and claiming that an unnamed “U.S. diplomatic official scoffed at the idea that the fence will make Israelis safe from terrorism. “The Palestinians are being corralled, not kept out,” the official said.”

If the Daily News had the most distorted coverage of the Bush-Abbas meeting, the Washington Times had the best, not only giving top billing to Bush’s tough talk on terror, but including more of Bush’s statements than most other newspapers.

The Times headlined its story “Bush, Abbas Collide Over ‘Road Map’ Obstacles,” and correspondent Joseph Curl led with this model of accurate reportage: “Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas yesterday charged that Israel’s failure to stem violence in the Middle East threatens prospects for peace, but President Bush in a sharp retort said terrorism is the biggest obstacle.”

A little further on Curl wrote:  ” “I’m going to tell you point-blank that we must make sure that any terrorist activity is rooted out in order for us to be able to deal with these big issues,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Abbas in a Rose Garden appearance.”

Curl treated the issue of the security wall as an irritant at best, noting that “Mr. Bush did not join Mr. Abbas in calling for Israel to remove the wall, but did say the security boundary around large sections of Palestinian territory, ostensibly to protect Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks, was a ‘problem.’ ”

Could there be two more completely different accounts of the same event than the reports filed by Curl of the Washington Times and Bazinet of the Daily News? As to the question of which account is more trustworthy, the Monitor would never put its money on the Daily News, a paper that not only qualifies as the most boring daily newspaper in the tri-state area, but one that’s terribly inconsistent as well – testament to publisher Mortimer Zuckerman’s annoying penchant for firing editors almost as often as Italy changes prime ministers.

Note to Readers: A number of you have suggested that with so many people traveling and vacationing, the Monitor extend the deadline for submissions in our ‘Favorite Websites’ poll.   Being an agreeable sort, the Monitor will do just that. New deadline is Sept. 5 (the first Friday after Labor Day). Results will be published later that month.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Jason Maoz

What's Up With This?

Thursday, October 25th, 2001

Given the fact that in Operation Desert Storm the United States literally rescued Saudi Arabia from a certain takeover by Iraq, it is particularly gnawing that they are hemming and hawing so much about helping us with going after Osama bin Laden. But, as reported by the New York Daily News, there is another troubling issue concerning Saudi Arabia that seems to be lurking just below the surface. That country seems inordinately interested in the progress of the investigation.

Our legal system has a dynamic of its own with safeguards for the accused and almost accused ? yes, even in the context of the horrific assault on the Twin Towers. So there is much to be gleaned about where we are up to in tracking down the perpetrators from continuing court proceedings. Here is what the Daily News reported on September 21 in an article entitled, “Saudis Hire Lawyer for Material Witness”:

The Saudi Arabian government has injected itself into the FBI investigation of the attack on America, retaining a lawyer to represent an important witness in the case, the Daily News has learned.

That could give the Saudi government unusual behind-the-scenes access to the progress of the U.S. probe of who is responsible for the hijacking of four airliners used as missiles by the terrorists.

The lawyer, Sean O'Shea, was retained by the Saudi Embassy to represent the interests of one of four material witnesses held by the government, said two sources familiar with the investigation.

O'Shea, a former Brooklyn federal prosecutor, was one of two defense lawyers who showed up under tight security at a secret hearing Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court.

The hearing was held behind closed doors before Judge Michael Mukasey, and reporters from Newsday and the Associated Press were asked to leave.

When it concluded, lawyers O'Shea and Andrew Patel emerged with prosecutors Andrew McCarthy and Kenneth Karas, who have handled past terrorism cases for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Joe White.

All four declined to comment.

One has this uncomfortable feeling about why Saudi Arabia would rush to the defense of someone linked to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Also, why do they have this apparent need for an inside track on what information we are developing?

Editorial Board

Sorry, But It’s Sontag Again

Wednesday, September 5th, 2001

For the second week running the Monitor is forced to postpone a celebration of the death last month of one of the wickedest Jews to walk the earth in this or any other generation. The continuing fallout over outgoing New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Deborah Sontag’s novella-length rewrite of recent Middle East history leaves no choice but to put away the streamers and the silly hats and reschedule the party for the next column.

And what a fallout it’s been, starting with the obligatory letters to the editor in the Times from pro-Palestinian Arabs, pro-Israel Jews, and self-hating Israelis and Jews (an over-used term to be sure, but what else does one call individuals who argue their enemies’ case better and with more passion than the enemies themselves?).

The steady flow of letters appeared over several days against a backdrop of a Times editorial essentially defending Sontag’s fictionalized account; Op-Ed columns disputing Sontag’s version of events by former Israeli prime minister Barak and the Times’s token conservative pundit, William Safire; and a column praising Sontag by the Times’s tiresome knee-jerker Anthony Lewis, whose last original thought occurred sometime during the Eisenhower years.

Detailed criticisms of Sontag’s article began to appear almost immediately on the Web and in various magazines and newspapers; probably the best so far have been a withering analysis by Robert Satloff in The New Republic and an almost equally strong essay by Daily News publisher (and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations) Mortimer Zuckerman.

Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, opens his piece on a sardonic note: “Imagine The New York Times covering the sinking of the Titanic with only a passing reference to the iceberg. Absurd? Not really. On July 26 the nation’s newspaper of record devoted 5,681 words to a retrospective by Jerusalem bureau chief Deborah Sontag titled ‘Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why It Failed’ and mentioned the word ‘intifada’ just once.”

And therein lies Satloff’s main problem with Sontag, who in her July 26 narrative (as indeed in much of her reporting over the past 10 months) rendered the Palestinian uprising well nigh invisible. To Satloff, Sontag’s downplaying of the intifada reflects both her hyper-ideological journalism (“There is, of course, no ‘left wing’ in her story – only ‘peace advocates’ on one side and ‘right-wing’ politicians on the other,” he notes) and her unwillingness to blame Palestinian violence for the deteriorating state of affairs.

“For a journalist who takes aim at what at what she calls the ‘potent, simplistic narrative’ of Barak’s generosity and Arafat’s culpability, Sontag’s own story is remarkably free of complexity,” he writes. “This refusal to grapple with uncomfortable issues is most pronounced in Sontag’s avoidance of the intifada.

“To her, the failure of the peace process was due to bad chemistry (Barak chatting up Chelsea Clinton instead of Arafat at Camp David) and bad timing (Bill Clinton waiting too long to offer his own peace plan). In her telling, the Palestinian uprising is just part of the background landscape.

“But it is not just part of the background landscape. The uprising so transformed the Israeli-Palestinian political context that by the time the two sides were, in Sontag’s telling, agonizingly close, it no longer mattered…. But to discuss the intifada, its roots, and its impact would complicate Sontag’s tale of imminent peace gone awry, so she sets it aside.

“The result is that lynchings, stonings, mortar shellings and drive-by shootings are acts of violence that, like traffic accidents, just happen. The ‘cycle of violence started,’  ‘an intense spasm of violence erupted,’  ‘two Israelis were killed,’ she writes.”

Satloff ascribes the weakness of Sontag’s piece to “lazy reporting, errors of omission, questionable shading, and an indifference to the basic fact that the Palestinian decision to wed diplomacy with violence, not American and Israeli miscues, damned the search for peace.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Jason Maoz

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