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June 22, 2011

Dishonest Reporting: How The Aish HaTorah Funded Media Watchdog Honest Reporting Distorts News

Honest Reporting logo Honest Reporting wants you to believe that ultra-Orthodox children did not stone a dog in Jerusalem on the orders of haredi rabbis, who believed the dog to be a reincarnation of a secular lawyer they despised. To do so, Honest Reporting distorts the truth.

First, Honest Reporting's post on the dog stoning in its entirety. My comments start below Honest reporting's post, after the red disclaimer showing Honest Reporting's post has ended.

Sleeping Dogs Don’t Lie – But the Press Does

June 20, 2011 10:37 by Simon Plosker [Honest Reporting.com]

UPDATE: Hours after publishing this critique, the BBC published a separate followup reflecting Maariv’s apology, while the Daily Telegraph removed the story from its website.

We wait for AFP and YNet News to correct the record as well.

UPDATE 2: The BBC’s response is simply unacceptable. Find out why here on our Backspin blog and take further action.

* * *

A truly bizarre story appeared in the Israeli press in the past few weeks. According to YNet News:

A Jerusalem rabbinical court recently sentenced a wandering dog to death by stoning. The cruel sentence stemmed from the suspicion that the hound was the reincarnation of a famous secular lawyer, who insulted the court’s judges 20 years ago.

The story was picked up by the Daily Telegraph, Time, AFP and the BBC, where it is currently the most shared item on the entire News website.

However, it turns out that the outlandish story is precisely that – a story. Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv published an apology (translated from Hebrew below) in its June 15 edition after it was revealed that the only accurate detail was a dog running loose in a court building causing something of a commotion:

On the 3rd of June 2011 we published a story titled “Mea Shearim: Rabbinnical court orders the stoning of a dog”. The story reported a police complaint filed by the Association for Animal Rights (Tza’ar Ba’alei Chaim) against the Jerusalem Rabbinnical Court for Financial Affairs. The story also featured the total denial of the Chief Justice of the court, Yehoshua Levin, of the complaint. The Rabbi said, among other things: “There is no basis for the abuse of an animal, neither from the Halacha nor by common sense”.  According to him, employees of the municipality have collected the dog from the court. The title of the story didn’t fully present the entire story, and we apologize for the anguish caused to the court and its members.

Shame on the Israeli press for publishing the story in the first place, which could be chalked down to internal Israeli issues between secular and ultra-Orthodox sectors of the population.

Indeed, the Israeli press like any free media in the developed world is more than capable of tabloid-style journalism, displaying political bias and making mistakes. The Israeli press, however, has a responsibility beyond that to its own domestic audience.

So many of the stories that you see in the international media are not exclusives broken by the New York Times, CNN or The Guardian. They come straight from the pages of the Hebrew press. And foreign journalists don’t even need to read Hebrew thanks to the proliferation of Israeli news sites in English, such as Ha’aretz, YNet News and the Jerusalem Post.

Perhaps the Daily Telegraph, Time, AFP and the BBC can be forgiven for running a story that was newsworthy simply due to its highly unusual nature. Making #1 on the BBC’s Most Shared list is testament to the interest that it generated.

But it doesn’t change the fact that even during relatively “quiet” periods in Israel and particularly when the main news stories are coming from neighboring countries such as Syria, some media are still compelled to publish stories that are not only negative but actually demeaning to Israel or the Jewish religion.

In any case, international media outlets should do the professional thing and follow the Israeli press in publishing corrections.

Time has published the following update:

According to Hebrew news sources, the story originally published in the Behadrei Haredim newspaper may not have been based on factual reporting. The court denies the sentence was ever handed down, claiming the only action taken against the dog was in calling animal control officials to remove the dog.

The Daily Telegraph, AFP and the BBC have yet to follow suit.

~~~~ end Honest Reporting's post~~~~~

If you read Honest Reporting's post carefully, you'll note it attributes the allegedly false story to Ma'ariv.

But Ma'ariv is not the source of the story – Behadrei Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox news site, is. You can see that in Time Magazine's retraction, in which it cites Behadrei Haredim as it's source for the original and allegedly false story.

Indeed, my original post on this, Haredim Stone Dog In Reincarnation Payback?, dated June 6, mentions that I originally saw the story a few days before on Behadrei Haredim.

Yet Honest Reporting does not attribute the story to this ultra-Orthodox website because doing so would shift the blame for reproducing it to ultra-Orthodox Jews rather than non-Jewish media.

Honest Reporting's original financial backer was Aish HaTorah, the ultra-Orthodox kiruv (missionary) yeshiva based in Jerusalem, and many of its original activists came from Aish.

But Honest Reporting's dishonesty does not stop there.

It mentions that it is waiting for Ynet, the large Israeli news website, to retract its story.

Honest Reporting's post is dated June 20. On June 16, Ynet ran its story – the story Honest Reporting wants it to retract based on Ma'ariv's June 15 retraction.

But here is what Ynet's story says:

…The head of the court, Rabbi Avraham Dov Levin, denied that the judges had called for the dog's stoning. But one of the court's managers confirmed the report to Yedioth Ahronoth.
 
"It was ordered by the rabbis because of the grief he had caused the court," he said. "They didn't issue an official ruling, but ordered the children outside to throw stones at him in order to drive him away. They didn't think of it as cruelty to animals, but as an appropriate way to 'get back at' the spirit which entered the poor dog.”…

So Ynet has confirmation from inside the rabbinical court. The stoning was ordered by these ultra-Orthodox rabbis, and then the head of the rabbinic court lied to cover it up. And Honest Reporting fails to mention this important fact.

Indeed, Honest Reporting quotes another part of that Ynet story and links to it, while it does not quote, cite or link to Ynet's confirmation of the stoning.

As the story of the rabbis and the doggie death sentence was reproduced worldwide, it made Orthodox Jews of all stripes (pun intended, for those familiar with where this story took place) and Israelis look very bad.

In fact, it could easily be argued that this one story did more damage to Jews, Judaism and Israel than almost any other in recent history.

So Honest Reporting and activists from ultra-Orthodoxy, Orthodoxy and the Israeli right put tremendous pressure on news organizations to retract their stories, and Honest Reporting misrepresented the truth.

These media organizations were deluged with emails. Mainstream Jewish organizations, taking Honest Reporting's spin at face value, pressured for retractions. Jews, enraged that papers would print such an obviously 'false' story, badgered papers and their advertisers. Pro-ritual slaughter advocates pouted that the story would only give more strength to those trying to ban shechita, Jewish religious slaughter.

And the 'fabricated' 'antisemitic' story was either amended or removed. Jewish publications, including the JTA and the Jewish Chronicle, ran stories calling the dog story a hoax.

Then the only first line non-haredi news source left standing, Ynet caved in as well, removing its story that contained the confirmation. But it did not apologize for or retract its report, which is significant. Indeed, I searched Ynet's site for a retraction or apolgy using several different seach methods but found nothing.

If Ynet's confirmation was really a reporter's lie, that reporter should be fired. But Honest Reporting's failure to quote that confirmation or directly attack it should tell you the confirmation is most likely true. The reporter, Akiva Novick, has at least one newer story published by Ynet, which is an indication he was not fired or suspended.

And that is how Honest Reporting and its band of often unintentional co-conspirators suppressed the truth.

Yes, haredi rabbis did order that dog stoned and, yes, the head of that rabbinic court did lie about it. Yes a haredi publication was the first to report the stoning and, yes, Ynet did confirm it.

But Israel, Jews and Judaism have now been protected from the truth. We can choose to continue on with blinders on our eyes. And we have Honest Reporting to thank for it.

Related Posts:

Haredim Stone Dog In Reincarnation Payback?

Rabbis Sentence Dog To Death

Comments

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Hey SR, it's really confusing sometimes when you are quoting an article and there's no change in font style. In this article, it would be helpful to know more clearly what did Aish say (Oh excuse me Honest Reporting), what Ma'ariv says, and what your opinion is. As I look over this piece, it's not very clear. Perhaps put the quoted sources in italics.

Thanks.

I changed the font color on the Honest Reporting content to blue to make it easier to distinguish between their content and my content.

"Honest Reporting". Fundamentalists of all varieties have no sense of irony.

Doesn't 'Pravda' mean 'truth' in Russian?

I'm just glad that they didn't stone the dog. At least these hareidim haven't sunk to THAT level.

We know that Aish lies like a cheap carpet in its "Discovery" SeminarIndoctrination. Why should its news reporting be any different?


You are a sore loser Shmaraya Rosebberg. You are nitpicking

One of the main issues is that was so much confusion about the source of the story and where it came from.

I will nitpcik too.

Bchadrei Charedim is not a Haredi website.
It is profit-making site owned by a secular entrepreneur who owns many other websites. The charedi leadership "banned" their oonstituents from owning,working or visiting that site.

From the Christian Science Monitor

"Ynet didn't do any original reporting. They got the story from this in Behadrei Hadarim, a small Hebrew-language news outlet for Israel's ultra-Orthodox community. The Bhadrei Hadarim's reports that it got the story from someone who was present, but it doesn't bother to give that person's name."

Now the Haaretz article which you have not posted answers all your question. Read all about it in Haaretz.

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-dog-wags-international-media-s-tail-1.369056

Contrary to assertions made at the top, I do not see where Honest Reporting attributes the "origin" of the report to Maariv.

Honest Reporting clearly attributes the first apology, that it knows of at the time, to Maariv.

It is the Daily Telegraph itself (http://honestreporting.com/bbcs-dogged-denial/) and the BBC itself (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13838347) that attributed their source to Maariv.

Even though the (http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/06/18/shocking-sentence-jewish-court-condemns-dog-to-death-by-stoning/) mentions "Behadrei Haredim", it does so only in its "update", and in a confusing manner at that.

Further contrary to the assertions made at the top, it was not Ynet that alegedly confirmed the story with a "manager" of the court. Ynet points the finger at Maariv.

So depite it (probably) being the earliest source of the story, there is little to point back to "Behadrei Haredim", as it is Hebrew aimed at a very limited and insular community, while the major topic of Honest Reporting was the English-language (and world) press. The only reason Maariv is needed is because it was the first known retraction.

And after I wrote the above piece I noticed a post was added pointing to Haaretz which also states that "the original publication" was "Maariv". In other words, no-one pays attention to "Behadrei Haredim" so there is no reason for "Honest Reporting" to pay any attention to it either.

Correction to type. Delete the first sentence (shown below):

Contrary to assertions made at the top, I do not see where Honest Reporting attributes the "origin" of the report to Maariv.

Shmarya,

If you want an example of dishonesty. It appears from an Iowa Judicial Watch
website that convicted pedophile and Rubashkin son-in-law Rabbi Yaakov Weiss emailed the Supreme Court of Iowa nomination committee a few months back. It appears that pedophile Weiss claims he is a Postville resident. I have confirmed the email address to belong to Weiss. Perhaps someone should mention this to his probation officer:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/47685224/d-letters

Or

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:kJu20ultEVcJ:www.scribd.com/doc/47685224/d-letters+yaakov973&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

Yaakov973@8ol.com 01111/2011 11 :46 PM

To SupCtNom@iowacourts.gov cc
Subject Mati Dummermath

I am a resident of Postville.

I cannot think of a candidate more unfit for the prestigious position of Supreme Court judge than Matt Dummermath. He destroyed our town and our region. His reputation has proven that he is out to prosecute, not seek justice.

Moreover, it has now come out that Matt was involved in misconduct: htlp:llwww.desmoinesregister.com/article/20100924JNEWS01/9240356J-1/NETWORKING/Misconduct-ca ses-taint-justice-in-Iowa

Based on this I believe it would be a big mistake and stain to choose Mr. Dummermath as a nominee for this high position.

I do think, however, that Judge Callahan is a very fair judge.

Thank you.
Yaakov Postville, fA

shmarya is correct. it all hinges on the accuracy of the reporters claim that a court employee confirmed the story. this would not only mean that it occurred, but that the rabbi who denied it is a liar.
so 'honest reporting' should be honest enough to keep their pens and keyboards quiet until they can show that admission to have been untrue. that they avoided any reference to it is both dishonest and supportive of its truth.

Further contrary to the assertions made at the top, it was not Ynet that alegedly confirmed the story with a "manager" of the court. Ynet points the finger at Maariv.

George, I have the damn quote posted. Ynet itself confirmed it.

The quote on this web site is:

> But one of the court's managers confirmed the report to Yedioth Ahronoth.

I read that ("to") as meaning that Ynet is only copying what said "to" Yedioth, not that Ynet itself personally interviewed the manager. It is very poorly worded if it did indeed mean that "Ynet confirmed the Yedioth Ahronoth report", in which case it should have worded it like I just did.

The quote on this web site is:

> But one of the court's managers confirmed the report to Yedioth Ahronoth.

I read that ("to") as meaning that Ynet is only copying what said "to" Yedioth, not that Ynet itself personally interviewed the manager. It is very poorly worded if it did indeed mean that "Ynet confirmed the Yedioth Ahronoth report", in which case it should have worded it like I just did.

Posted by: george | June 22, 2011 at 01:13 PM

Yedioth Ahranot is the Hebrew newspaper that owns and operates Ynet. Ynet consists of translated Ydiot stories and some wire service copy.

And neither is Ma'ariv.

Got that, champ?

Yep, I read this too fast. My apologies. It does say Yedioth Ahronoth.

Yep, I read this too fast. My apologies. It does say Yedioth Ahronoth.

Posted by: george | June 22, 2011 at 01:20 PM

Accepted.

FM
Give it up: The BEEB did without looking for the anonymous court manager whose very existence is in doubt.

From the editors' blog on the BBC

Story removal
BBC News website

Nathalie Malinarich | 17:15 UK time, Wednesday, 22 June 2011
You may have noticed a headline in our "most popular" module about a dog being condemned to stoning in Israel. It was followed a few days later by a denial: Jerusalem court denies dog condemned by stoning. The first story has now been taken down. This is not a step we often take so I wanted to explain why we have done so on this occasion. We based our article on sources we have used in the past: Ynet, a popular Israeli website, and the news agency AFP. What we did not know when we wrote the story was that the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv had already published a retraction and an apology. We failed to make the right checks. We should never have written the article and apologise for any offence caused. We have kept the story carrying the denial in the interests of transparency.


Nathalie Malinarich is world editor of the BBC News website.

Update:

It appears from an Iowa Judicial Watch website (http://www.iowajudicialwatch.org/)that obtained correspondence from the Supreme Court of Iowa nomination committee that convicted pedophile and Rubashkin son-in-law Rabbi Yaakov Weiss emailed the Supreme Court of Iowa nomination committee a few months back (http://www.iowajudicialwatch.org/2011/the-popularity-contest/). In that correspondence it appears that pedophile Weiss claims he is a Postville resident. I have confirmed the email address to belong to Weiss (http://who.godaddy.com/whoischeck.aspx?Domain=JEWISHCOLONIE.COM). Perhaps someone should mention this to Weiss' probation officer. Click on Letters for candidates with last names beginning with the letter “d.” at (http://www.iowajudicialwatch.org/2011/the-popularity-contest/) or the following links:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/47685224

Or

http://www.scribd.com/doc/47685224/d-letters

Or

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:kJu20ultEVcJ:www.scribd.com/doc/47685224/d-letters+yaakov973&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com


A copy of the letter in question:
[Begin Letter]
Yaakov973@aol.com
01/11/2011 11:46 PM
To SupCtNom@iowacourts.gov
cc
Subject Matt Dummermath
I am a resident of Postville.
I cannot think of a candidate more unfit for the prestigious position of Supreme Court judge than Matt Dummermath. He destroyed our town and our region. His reputation has proven that he is out to prosecute, not seek justice.
Moreover, it has now come out that Matt was involved in misconduct: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20100924/NEWS01/9240356/-1/NETWORKING/Misconduct-cases-taint-justice-in-Iowa
Based on this I believe it would be a big mistake and stain to choose Mr. Dummermath as a nominee for this high position.
I do think, however, that Judge Callahan is a very fair judge.
Thank you.
Yaakov
Postville, IA
[End Letter]

Further another email was sent by an Ari Chitrik to the Judicial committee about 9 hours later using the similar language of "stain" and the identical subject line. This letter is found on the page after Weiss' letter:
[Begin Letter]
"Ari Chitrik"
01/11/2011 11:46 PM
To
cc
Subject Matt Dummermath
Electing Matt Dummermath will be a stain on the Iowa courts.
[End Letter]


Rabbi Yaakov Weiss and Ari Chitrik were or are both members of the "The Committee of Concerned Anash for Pidyon Shevuyim".
See:
http://chabad.info/index.php?url=article_en&id=13459%3Cbr%20/%3E%3Cbr%20/%3E%3Cbr%20/%3Eon%20the%20bottom%20of%20the%20article%20they%20wrote%20Article%20courtesy%20of%20www.collive.com%3Cbr%20/%3E
http://www.collive.com/show_news.rtx?id=1428&alias=committee-for-rubashkin-case

Although pedophile Weiss is no longer shown as a member of the committee it appears from the above that as of the beginning of the year he may still have been directing the efforts of this committee and its efforts. The committee was set up for the purposes of assisting Weiss' father-in-law Sholom Rubashkin:
http://www.collive.com/show_news.rtx?id=7754&alias=rubashkin-needs-your-letter
http://www.ncfje.org/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/1144649/jewish/The-Rubashkin-Case.htm

Who is Ari Chitrik?

See: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Ari+Chitrik%22&sa=N&tbs=nws:1,ar:1

In particular:

March 8, 2006: Anthony Duncan, 47, was killed when a garage wall collapsed at 733 Ocean Parkway in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Architect Robert Scarano, cited for violations throughout Brooklyn, had signed papers taking responsibility for the shoring-up. Owner Viera Novak and developer Ari Chitrik of O.P. Equities were cited for, among other things, failing to safeguard the public and the property.

I've been trying to confirm what happened to the dog which will forever more probably be known as Secular Lawyer.

JSPCA takes in 1000 stray dogs a year in Jerusalem, the rebuttal mentions them calling the municpality.

This seems to be a relatively simple thing to check.

Love those! I enjoy following your posts on facebook and rss!

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