Look who’s aghast at the sight of women

So it appears that Muslim extremists are not alone in their horror at the sight of women. They have

So it appears that Muslim extremists are not alone in their horror at the sight of women. They have the company of certain ultra-orthodox Jews in our own fair state of New York, or at least of those who publish the Yiddish-language newspaper Der Tseitung in Brooklyn.

As all the world knows by now, Der Tseitung erased Hillary Clinton and another woman, director of counter-terrorism, from the famous photo of President Obama and his aides watching the bin Laden raid on a monitor in the White House “situation room.”

In the original photo, Clinton appeared prominently front and right with her hand over her mouth as if in suspense; Audrey Tomason appeared, barely, between men’s shoulders at right rear.

As published in Der Tseitung — poof! — the ladies were gone, thanks, presumably, to the magic of Photoshop or some similar software. If you use Photoshop yourself, you can detect that it was a rather sloppy job, but the effect was achieved.

Quite the little uproar followed, prompting the newspaper to sort of apologize, in a statement that explained: “Our photo editor realizing the significance of this historic moment, published the picture, but in his haste, did not read the ‘fine print’ that accompanied the picture, forbidding any changes …”

The White House had sent out the photo with the standard advisory that it “may not be manipulated in any way,” and that’s what the ultras in Brooklyn apologized for violating, the “fine print.”

They did not apologize for banning images of women.

On the contrary, “Our editorial policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board and because of laws of modesty, does not allow for the publishing of photos of women,” they explained. “The readership of Tseitung believe that women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for what they look like, and the Jewish laws of modesty are an expression of respect for women, not the opposite.”

Just like the Islamic laws, I guess, since that’s what you hear from Muslims also, that the neurotic covering of women is an expression of respect and not, heaven help us, a primitive desert-tribal custom.

But isn’t that a hoot — women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do as opposed to what they look like? We might ask, “Shouldn’t men be appreciated for the same reasons? And if they should, why didn’t Barack Obama and Joe Biden get scrubbed out of the photo? Wasn’t anyone afraid that their images might arouse improper thoughts in the minds of women readers? That is, if Haredi or Hasidic women are even allowed to read newspapers, which I don’t know.

Such quaint and charming medievalism.

In Islam it is deplorable. In Judaism, we just kind of look the other way, and in Israel we actually subsidize it.

How did this little photo incident come to the attention of the larger non-Yiddish-reading world? It came through a disgruntled former member of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect, one Shmarya Rosenberg, who writes a blog called FailedMessiah.com, dedicated to digging up dirt on the ultra-Orthodox.

It was just a little item on an obscure blog, but it was so egregious and so graphic, that it caught fire.

The newspaper’s response, apart from the limited apology in English, was a Yiddish-language story that it ran under the headline: “Unbelievable incitement when a stinking heretic lowlife publishes the photo that omitted Secretary of State Clinton.” (The translation is Rosenberg’s own.)

So I don’t sense a whole lot of regret or remorse there.


As for my report the other day that the state Court of Appeals had upheld an order requiring a 5-year-old girl to visit her father, a convicted child molester, in prison in Dannemora, it’s true, the court dismissed the appeal of an Appellate Division decision to that effect, but that was only on what’s called its own motion. The little girl’s mother, who is fighting the order, still has the right to request permission to appeal on her own behalf.

I am so advised by a spokesman for the court.

The Appellate Division had ruled against the mother, upholding a lower court’s order that the visits take place, but the vote was 3-2. The Court of Appeals took a look and decided that since the two dissenting votes were not based on questions of law, it had no jurisdiction to review the matter, but that did not preclude the mother’s right to pursue her own appeal.

Categories: Opinion

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