2020 The Media's War Against Orthodox Judaism
Chananya Weissman

July 12, 2020

The Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post are waging a journalistic war against Orthodox Judaism. They have dropped all pretenses of objectivity; not only are their editorials one-sided and biased against the more traditional segments of Orthodox Judaism, but they regularly publish thinly-veiled editorials under the guise of news items. There can be no doubt that their mission is not to report news and inform the public, but to manipulate their readers through propaganda, selective reporting, double standards, and lack of nuance.

Two examples from the last few days alone (there are many more) illustrate their lack of integrity and professionalism.

On July 2 the Times of Israel posted a news update under the title"Shas leader says he made sure synagogues can keep packing them in". This is the sort of snarky title one might expect to find in a high school newspaper, not a professional media outlet. The article went on to relate that the Prime Minister had sought to limit synagogue attendance to 20 people, while allowing more in event halls, bars, and clubs, but "Deri canceled the evil decree."

The Times of Israel then showed a stock photo from May 20 – six weeks earlier – with the caption "Ultra Orthodox Jewish men eschew masks while praying at a synagogue in Jerusalem". Thinly veiled message to readers: please hate these people!

But it got even worse. The article, ostensibly a news update, continued as follows: “It can’t be that restaurants, bars and clubs, where the danger is larger several times over, can host 50 people and synagogues can only have 20. In clubs they don’t keep distances and nobody wears masks,” says Deri, who apparently frequents dance clubs.

The malice of the unnamed writer or editor at the Times of Israel was so pronounced that he simply could not hold himself back from taking pot shots at Deri and Orthodox Jews at every opportunity in this short "news update".

Needless to say, there were no reports of Muslim imams seeking to "pack them in" at mosques with snide commentary. After all, in their own words, "The Times of Israel has no partisan political affiliation. It seeks to present the news fair-mindedly..."

On July 9 the Jerusalem Post published a news story with the inflammatory headline "Chief rabbi patronizes women studying halacha, says ReformJudaism is fake". The article began with the following paragraph: "Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has issued an all out attack on Reform Judaism, describing it as “fake” and “falsified Judaism,” while also casting aspersions on the ability of women to study Jewish law at an advanced level."

As it turns out, this is misleading. The article goes on to relate that Rabbi Yosef specifically reacted to legal pressure being put on the chief rabbinate to essentially ordain women (albeit perhaps with a title other than rabbi), and he acknowledged that women can and do learn Torah on a high level.

The author, Jeremy Sharon, referred to the women seeking "accreditation" as being "overwhelmingly from the moderate wing of the religious-Zionist community". However, he did not enlighten readers with the basis on which he considers them moderate and Rabbi Yosef extremist – particularly important considering the "moderates" are using the secular courts to try to impose their will on the rabbinate and attain something that has never been accepted in Orthodox Judaism. Clearly the Jerusalem Post does not want readers thinking about this, but to simply accept as fact that Rabbi Yosef is a tyrant seeking to keep down holy religious women from achieving what is rightfully theirs.

Sharon then "reported" that Rabbi Yosef "embarked on an anti-Reform diatribe". This diatribe basically consisted of accusing them of falsifying the Torah. What does Sharon expect the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, a staunchly Orthodox Jew from a prestigious rabbinic dynasty, to say about Reform Jewry? Apparently, that they are free to interpret the Torah however they wish, make whatever changes they wish, and it's all just as good or better. Ridiculous.

Needless to say, we don't read about Reform pastors, radical feminists, homosexual activists, and cross dressers pretending to be of another gender launching into diatribes against Orthodox Judaism. The Jerusalem Post treats their utterances with the greatest of respect and sensitivity. They will also never report to us how Muslim religious leaders might deal with pressure from women to become imams, which is a shame – that would surely be an interesting story.

On July 11 the Jerusalem Post followed up this editorial posing as a news story with an actual editorial. This one ran under the headline "It's time for Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef to step up or step down: The government needs to present Yosef with a choice – either help or get out of the way."

It is unimaginable that the Jerusalem Post would speak of any religious leader from any other denomination or faith in such caustic terms.

The editorial went on to declare: "It was also the latest proof why the Chief Rabbinate as an institution has lost its way and needs to be defunded by the government and eventually shut down...The attacks on Reform Jews is another stage in the Orthodox world’s assault on progressive Jews...Sadly, matters of religion and state in this country continue to be held hostage by ultra-Orthodox radicals who refuse to accept that not every Jew will look like them or practice Judaism the same way that they do...People who want to travel on Shabbat do not have an option of public transportation and reforms in the country’s kashrut system are slow in coming...It is time that all this changes. The government needs to present Yosef with a choice – either help or get out of the way."

Simply put, the editors of the Jerusalem Post demand that the Chief Rabbi of Israel stop being Orthodox and that Orthodox Jews stop "assaulting" those who want to destroy their way of life in Eretz Yisrael by resisting this takeover in any way. Orthodox Jews are "radicals" and those who trample on the Torah and tradition are "progressive".

This is the official position of the editors of the Jerusalem Post; it is clearly stated in their editorials and reflected in their heavily biased news coverage.

It is time not only for Orthodox Jews, but all decent people who respect tradition and objective reporting of the news to hold the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post accountable for their lack of integrity and professionalism. Perhaps those who do not wish to see Orthodox rabbis, institutions, and communities defamed on a regular basis – like no other religious leaders or communities – should "defund" these anti-Orthodox media outlets.

I understand that Anglo olim like holding an English newspaper in their hands, and maybe they know someone who works there, but at some point it's time to decide that it's too little a price for your selling your soul.

There is a war being fought against Orthodox Judaism. It's time to stand up and fight back.