This is, I hope, my last word on this subject. I confess that I expected better. I expected that Gary Rosenblatt and the Jewish Week would do what is honorable and decent, a sign of integrity, and what should be typical among Jews with even faint aspirations for ethical goodness: retract and apologize for printing a demonstrable lie, to wit: that I resigned as Rosh Bet Din in Bergen County because the RCA appointed women to a committee to review the standards and practices for conversion and to minimize the potential for future abuses. But rather than apologize, the Jewish Week utilized two standard journalistic gimmicks, both of which reflect poorly on the publisher and his staff.
The first gimmick involved just dropping the lie from subsequent news accounts. No clarification, no correction, no retraction and, of course, no apology. The lie was just dropped, lifted from the printed page as precipitously as it was first placed there. To the unsuspecting or casual reader, it is as if it never took place. But, of course, the lie remains in cyberspace, and especially in the accounts of other newspapers that re-printed it before it was summarily dropped. To the Jewish Week way of thinking, apparently, dropping a lie is the same as retracting it. In the real world where normal people live and interact, it is not. One who wrongly insults another person does not make amends for the insult by abstaining from its repetition.
The second gimmick – oh, how they must have enjoyed this one! – was accusing me of exploiting the Holocaust by, in their words, comparing the publisher to a Nazi and the paper to an infamous Nazi propaganda vehicle. Of course, as several astute readers pointed out with elaboration, I did no such thing. Sadly, not every reader is as astute, and many – apparently including some of my colleagues – suffer from reading comprehension issues. (Granted, any mention of anything Holocaust-related often causes people’s rational faculties to shut down and their emotional sensitivities to shift into overdrive.)
All I did was respond in kind to a sleazy journalistic trick that they attempted to use on me. The trick? Conflating “comparison” with “commonality.” It goes like this: the statement, “Gary Rosenblatt has two eyes and two feet, just like Genghis Khan” is a true statement. It is not a comparison of those two individuals, but an assertion of what they have “in common.” It is no indication at all that the two men are essentially alike – values, personality, temperament, world-view, etc. – but the linkage of the two is designed to arouse in the mind of the reader an unfavorable image.
This is the game that the Jewish Weak played with me (I imagine it does with other targets as well). Writing about me, they decided to drop in a couple of sentences that indicated that I served on the Executive Committee of the RCA (a true statement) along with (the gratuitous expression of commonality) a certain DC colleague who has since been arrested for voyeurism. In their choice phrase, I “shared company” with him on the RCA. Did they “compare” me to him? Not really. They just wanted to awaken in the mind of the reader the unfortunate association on the RCA between him (alleged miscreant) and me (their new target).
Obviously, dozens of other rabbis, perhaps as many as 100, at one time or another “shared company” with the alleged offender. Not as obviously, some RCA rabbis had a much closer relationship with him than I did and failed to rein him in when made aware of his past misconduct. But no matter: what was important to this tabloid was to plant the thought in the mind of the reader that bad guy (him)=bad guy (me) without actually saying that.
Well, if they wanted to play the game of commonality v. comparison, then I suggested they should try this on for size: both Gary Rosenblatt and Julius Streicher publish[ed] newspapers. Both use[d] ink on paper. Both were preoccupied with Jews. Etc. Is that a comparison? Of course not. It is just underscoring the commonalities that exist between the two – in non-essential matters – in order to plant a negative image in the mind of the reader.
Having exposed the cheap trick that they used, the publisher soared into high dudgeon and accused me of “exploiting the Holocaust.” That was certainly a masterful way of changing the topic away from his lies, and attempting to portray himself as victim rather than as victimizer. I did remove the phrase from my comment in deference to an esteemed colleague who is exquisitely sensitive to any Holocaust reference, not that it did me any good. But the focus wasn’t on the Holocaust – but on journalism. I could’ve provided examples of “yellow journalism” and Hearst, Pulitzer and the rest, but that allusion would have been lost on most people.
It is true that whenever the Holocaust is referred to at all, any subtlety is completely lost in the process. It is indeed unpleasant to find one’s name gratuitously linked in the same sentence with a Nazi, as it is unpleasant to find one’s name gratuitously linked in the same sentence with an accused voyeur. That was my point! Yet, the publisher acts as if it was some innocent mistake on his part, or something that lent itself to different meanings, and something that offended me and would not have offended another person.
It is not surprising that he resented having his sordid tactics used against him, and his only response – rather than concede the use of the dastardly ploy – was to cry “Holocaust.”
So allow me to state unequivocally that Gary Rosenblatt is not a Nazi, and the Jewish Week is not Der Sturmer. The Jewish Week is adept at a modern form of yellow journalism, in which the use of commonality as comparison is rampant, in which lies are wantonly published and in which targets – especially Orthodox Rabbis, Orthodox Jews and the Holy Torah – are routinely assailed. Sadly, such drivel has its audience.
I am among the legion of Jews who ordinarily pay absolutely no attention to the Jewish Week. As such, I never realized the extent to which this paper and its publisher have tormented Rabbis, trampled Orthodoxy, and provided a forum for hatred of Torah (as well the liberal politics that passes in some circles for Torah). I also never realized the extent of the disdain and contempt with which the Jewish Week and its publisher are held in this corner of the Torah world.
Now that the attempt is being made to shift the story away from the lies they print to – Rosenblatt- shorthand – “he called me a Nazi” (which, obviously, I did not), I take this opportunity to correct the record, or to make the record. Some will say that I should just ignore them and their lies. But the days are long gone when I will let someone else define me, depict me falsely in the public domain, or otherwise defame me without response. That mistake I made in the 1990’s, and with this same “news” paper, among others.
I should not leave off the hook the reporter who printed the original set of lies – several, not just one. One would think that a reporter named Dreyfus would be sensitized to the dangers inherent in lodging false accusations against innocent Jews. I guess not. (What amused me was the characterization of my emotional state that led to my original decision. To the Jewish Week, I was “angered” by the RCA decision; to one cellar-dweller, I was “enraged” by their decision. What’s next? Livid? Foaming at the mouth? Needed to be restrained by a strait-jacket? Fabricating someone’s emotional state is just another insidious journalistic technique to paint the story in line with their agenda. I haven’t felt even a twinge of anger. Angry? Why would I be angry?)
For the record, and at the risk of redundancy, I did not call Gary Rosenblatt a Nazi nor did I compare his paper to Der Sturmer. He is not and it is not. I simply pointed out commonalities that do not reflect the true essence of either – i.e., exactly what he did to me by linking me to an accused voyeur. I have exactly the same amount of regret for doing so that he does for doing it to me. I did it to point out to him the device that he used against me – and, for all I know, against others as well: linkage through innuendo, commonality as comparison.
Gary Rosenblatt is not a Nazi, nor a Communist, nor a Fascist. But until he retracts and apologizes for the lies he wrote about me, he remains a Liar.
And that is the last word. Anticipating no apology, we move on.