1. Rubashkin's lawyer who just a few months ago equated PETA with the Nazis:
Noted Orthodox lawyer Nathan Lewin said that the statement is "not really an apology."
"It's an acknowledgment of a miscalculation," said Lewin, the lawyer for the glatt kosher AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, which late last year was charged by Peta with engaging in inhumane slaughtering practices. "In an apology one withdraws what one has previously said."
To Lewin, the letter can be seen as an attempt to return public focus to the Iowa slaughterhouse, which, after garnering much attention for a time, has of late slipped from public view. "It seems to me it is clearly an effort to get back in the media, which is what Peta does all the time," Lewin said.
2. Agudath Israel's Rabbi Avi Shafran, who also compared PETA to the Nazis:
Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman of the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America, told the Forward that the issue of hurt feelings was only "one of the sins of this incredibly offensive campaign." Newkirk's "essential sin," Shafran said, "is that she equates humans with animals." Instead of apologizing for this, he said, "she reiterates it."
I asked Mr. Lewin if he had any proof of PETA's alleged Nazi ideology or any proof of antisemitism. Mr. Lewin had none. Rabbi Shafran also has no evidence or proof. Predictably, neither Mr. Lewin or Rabbi Shafran have yet to apologize for their offensive, oft-repeated remarks.
The Forward seems to have great difficulty covering the PETA/Rubashkin story, and has done little serious reporting on it, just as it has done little serious reporting on other issues that negatively impact Chabad.
But this was not always the case. Before Seth Lipsky was forced out as editor, the Forward was a hard-hitting, serious newspaper. In the years since Lipsky's removal, the Forward's circulation is alleged to be down dramatically. (I have been told – but have not confirmed – that the Forward has lost 2/3 of its subscriber base in those few years, a drop unparalleled in the industry.)
What made the Forward a must-read was its hard-hitting, well researched journalism. But now-editor JJ Goldberg has tried to turn the Forward into an upscale NY Jewish Week, a community newspaper with good writing but little punch.
That experiment has clearly failed.
PETA's apology is linked here.