This story was originally posted at 4:03 am 11-26-10.
The New York Times' original story published Wednesday on the alleged theft by Chabad of millions of dollars raised to rebuild Mumbai's terror-ravaged Chabad House contained the following paragraph:
Indian newspapers have reported that Mr. Holtzberg’s camp has also criticized Chabad-Lubavitch for mismanaging money that was donated for the center’s rebuilding, a charge that the group called “outrageous and absolutely false.” The group said it has raised $1.6 million in donations, of which more than half of will go toward Moshe’s upbringing and the rest will be used for the renovation and maintenance of Nariman House.
Indeed, Google's cache of the Times RSS feed preserves the original wording. Please click to enlarge:
The Times' new version of the article is missing that wording. Instead, the paragraph now reads this way:
Indian newspapers have reported that Mr. Holtzberg’s camp has also criticized Chabad-Lubavitch for mismanaging money that was donated for the center’s rebuilding, a charge that the group called “outrageous and absolutely false.”
Missing is the following sentence that says how much money Chabad itself claims to have raised and what Chabad itself says it promises to do with that money:
The group said it has raised $1.6 million in donations, of which more than half of will go toward Moshe’s upbringing and the rest will be used for the renovation and maintenance of Nariman House.
The Times does not list this change as a correction. Instead, in light gray type at the bottom of the article it says the following:
A version of this article appeared in print on November 25, 2010, on page A8 of the New York edition.
In journalism terms, that means the story was edited but there were no changes made that required an announcement of correction, and that means the facts in the original story are correct. Any changes made should have only been stylistic or grammatical.
So what's so important about that suddenly missing sentence?
1. The amount of money Chabad claims to have raised in the two years after the attack is not credible. Chabad had literally millions of dollars in free publicity for its fundraising effort. Newspapers, magazines, radio programs and television programs all mentioned the fundraising effort, and hundreds of blogs and Internet sites did, as well. The attacks were front page news for days, and the murder of the Chabad House staff members and guests, along with the escape of Sandra Samuel and Baby Moshe Holtzberg literally gripped the world. Either Chabad raised much more than $1.6 million or it has much less reach and importance than it claims and than others attribute to it. It is simply not credible to believe all it could raise was $1.6 million.
2. Chabad told the New York Times that it promised to use slightly less than half of the "$1.6 million" (the money remaining after fully funding Moshe Holtzberg's trust) to rebuild Nariman House. But Chabad seems to have no real intention of doing that.
At any rate, Chabad clearly told the Times these two things, and the Times – for reasons that are not clear – chose to edit them out sometime after they were first published.
The fund in question is managed out of Chabad's world headquarters in Brooklyn, which means it falls under US jurisdiction.
Perhaps the best way to determine the truth of where the money went is for the IRS and the FBI to pay Chabad World Headquarters a visit.
Update 11-28-10 – The AP also used the $1.6 million figure. And it quotes Chabad as making another claim – the funds, Chabad claims, are independently audited:
Responding to allegations in the Indian press that Chabad has misappropriated money that should have been used for reconstruction, Chabad says it raised $1.6 million after the 2008 attack, over half of which has been put in a trust for Moshe. It has spent another $75,000 on the building's upkeep and rebuilding plans and is holding the balance for the actual reconstruction. All funds are independently audited, the group says.
It is interesting, though, that Chabad has failed to release those audits to the press or the public, or even to the Holtzberg family.