letters to the editor

Anti-Semitic Tropes

Dear Editor,

I have been a reader of the 5TJT since its inception. But the paper seems to be moving inexorably in a dangerous direction. Many people are saying that it is becoming, whether intentionally or otherwise, a mouthpiece for far-right propaganda. Some examples follow.

Even as cases of smallpox were beginning to spread dangerously in some Jewish communities, the newspaper featured an interview with an anti-vaxxer. Although the individual had already been widely criticized, and his “theories” debunked by experts in the field, the article was published without a balanced rebuttal. The paper also featured a series of articles by a local dentist and self-proclaimed Trump “groupie” who advocated dangerous, anti-masking behavior, again without counter-balancing testimony. Regarding the January 6 insurrection, rather than discuss the many unlawful, dangerous, and unprecedented actions of the mob attacking the Capitol, the paper featured a picture of the demonstration, highlighting a 5TJT columnist who attended. The paper has yet, to my knowledge, to condemn the illegal behavior of the rioters who breached the Capitol. These acts, primarily the latter, resulted in the banning of the paper by two of the largest Orthodox congregations in the Five Towns.

And in the latest issue, the From the Editor column peddled a conspiracy theory from unnamed observers and without a shred of evidence that the president is not in charge of the White House. But of more relevance to the Jewish readership of the paper, the column defended Tucker Carlson’s promulgation of a well-known anti-Semitic “Replacement Theory.”

Carlson stated, “The Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate …  with new people, more obedient voters from the third World.” Anyone familiar with white supremacist ideology is aware that “The Democratic Party” is a euphemistic expression for Jews and other liberals. Proof of this can be seen in the TV images of white supremacists in Charlottesville chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), among others, has expressed outrage at this not-so-hidden anti-Semitism, and demanded Carlson’s firing. The ADL has been fighting anti-Semitism in the U.S. for over 100 years and their credentials on this subject are well-documented. For our own protection, Jews would do better to align ourselves with a known ally like the ADL rather that a ratings-seeker entertainer posing as a journalist.

A paper that purports to represent and speak to the local Jewish community would be better served being guided by the Torah and its teachings of chesed and openness than embracing anti-Semitic tropes.

Joe Judenberg

Joe,

Thank you for you thought-provoking note. Unfortunately, your assertions are way off the mark and wholly inaccurate. I am pleased to address them one at a time, as follows:

1. In terms of the paper’s editorial position, it has not wavered over the 21 years that we have been publishing. We are not a “mouthpiece for the far-right propaganda” but rather a centrist voice that approaches the issues of the day in a fair and open fashion, examining and analyzing the issues from both sides as is proper. Accusing us of being a voice of the far-right is a blatant distortion of the reality but does serve the agenda and narrative of a scant few left-wing extremists who tend to occasionally speak up in our direction.

2. You refer to smallpox and appropriate vaccinations but I think you meant measles and the controversy that reared its head back in the pre-corona days of about two years ago. The writer—J. B. Handley—who has written in a critical fashion of the damage he believes vaccines cause in children was simply a presentation of one position on the matter. We offered a local physician space to refute Mr. Handley’s contention—as any fair-minded publication without an agenda would do—but we were turned down and were told by the doctor that responding would just legitimize Mr. Handley’s position. Over this period, we have featured numerous pro-vaccine articles, so your criticism is just plain misguided and wrong.

3. As far as the photo of Dr. Gila Jedwab on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 is concerned, that was one of the most misunderstood stories we have ever covered in over two decades. We explained the following week that we regretted unintentionally generating this kind of misunderstanding. What is clear is that it was not an endorsement or an expression of support of the violence that ensued there, which some disingenuous elements in our community wanted readers to think.

We did indeed condemn the violence at the Capitol with a front-page banner story. It could not have been more obvious and could not be missed unless it was your agenda to miss it.

As far as the two shuls banning the paper, one of the shuls banned all newspapers from their premises because the papers were creating a mess unbecoming of a shul. The other shul had only a small Shabbos turnout to services, which meant that most of papers that were delivered there each week were left over. It was no longer worth the effort or the cost of delivery to that location.

Most of the rabbis involved in this matter have since apologized for acting the way they did and one even told a congregant that the reaction was misplaced and a big mistake. Additionally, the president of one of the shuls wrote an e-mail apologizing to Dr. Jedwab.

5. As far as the comment that President Biden is not in charge of policy at the White House, that was not our editorial comment, but rather the words of Texas Senator John Cornyn, which we quoted.

On the matter of Tucker Carlson and the use of the words “Replacement Theory,” it clearly meant nothing of a racist or anti-Semitic matter. As Mr. Carlson said the next night, his intent was a voting-rights matter and nothing more. This week the Coalition for Jewish Values organized a statement signed by 1,500 American rabbis condemning ADL Director Jonathan Greenblatt for trying to turn the Carlson comments into support or use of anti-Semitic verbiage.

As for your final suggestion that we would be better served being guided by the Torah and its teachings of chesed and openness rather than anti-Semitic tropes, that is exactly what we do and have done from day one. That you missed that is a confirmation of your agenda and a narrative that is not honest or grounded in reality.

LG

A Shared Shavuos

Dear Editor,

Although it may be hard to believe, Shavuos is just around the corner. Shavuos is one of the hardest yomim tovim for single mothers, especially mothers of boys—little boys, pre-adolescent boys, and teenage boys. Even a single mother who can provide food, clothing, and yeshiva tuition for her son cannot provide someone to learn with her son and take an interest in her son on Shavuos.

Now is the time to search our local communities for single-mom families. Invite them for a yom tov meal. Let them know that they and their children are remembered and taken into consideration. When all of the families are sending their boys off to learn on Shavuos night, let the boys with single mothers have the same joyous yom tov experience.

If you’d like to volunteer to host a single-mother family or to learn with the young son of a single mother, please reach out via the e-mail address below and we’ll arrange a neighborhood appropriate match.

Esther Miller

JCCRP Program Director

Success Space for Women

Esther@jccrp.org

3 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Larry,

    Why do you have such disrespect for your readers and treat them like illiterate fools? After your January 7th edition went out, you received the following letter (which was publicized, and is available to all who wish to see) from the president of the Young Israel of Woodmere:

    Dear Mr. Gordon,
    I am writing to you in my capacity as the president of the Young Israel of Woodmere, and with the knowledge and permission of the rabbis and lay leadership of the shul as well. We strongly object to your posting of a picture of Gila Jedwab with her arms extended in a welcoming fashion during the despicable event in front of the nation’s capital together with all its negative ramifications. Your glorification of an act that we all find abhorrent and against Jewish values, morals, and ethical conduct requires an immediate repudiation. You are perpetuating a tremendous chilul Hashem. Until you undertake to address this situation and issue a clear apology to the community, your newspaper is no longer welcome at the Young Israel of Woodmere. Please advise your delivery personnel to remove the YIW from its route.

    Congregation Beth Sholom sent the following email to its entire membership:
    Dear Friends,

    The photo that appeared on the first paper of the 5 Towns Jewish Times this week was an outrageous Chilul Hashem. To have this photo as the headline of the paper, which glorifies Wednesday’s violent attack on the US Capitol leaving five people dead, is irresponsible and reflects a disregard of our community’s values. Wednesday’s events cannot credibly be captioned as a “protest” and should absolutely not be painted in a positive light. This is especially true of an outlet which professes to be a voice of our community.

    The violence we witnessed on Wednesday was lawless anarchy and a direct attack on our democracy. Stability of government is an important Jewish value and something we pray for every Shabbos in our shuls. It will take much work on our community’s behalf to undo the incalculable damage this glorification has done.

    As of today the 5tjt will no longer be permitted to be delivered to the Congregation Beth Sholom premises.

    Maybe this is because of my left-wing extremism, or my dishonest agenda or narrative, but I just don’t see anything in either of those emails that refers to banning all newspapers as the result of a mess, or too many copies being left over because of scant shul attendance. Still, I’m confident that, in your role as “a centrist voice that approaches the issues of the day in a fair and open fashion, examining and analyzing the issues from both sides as is proper”, you can explain what it was in those letters that you interpreted as you did. Please clarify, as I’m eager to understand!

  2. B”H Delighted I am with Joe Judenberg’s letter, and hope it foreshadows a stream of others objecting to Larry Gordon penchant to use propaganda, and outright lies in his 5TJT organ; both amply illustrated in the publisher-editor’s unconvincing rebuttal! My regret is that Joe has been a reader since the screed appeared on the scene to poison our public discourse 21 years ago. One easily noticed that whereas the two Orthodox shuls expelling Larry’s weekly from their premises are identified as Beth Sholom, and Woodmere Young Israel, the editor does not mention which rabbi retracted the ban! Further, he refuses to chastise the dentist he featured celebrating the move on the Capitol on that tragic January 6; nor has he accepted our new, better President, except grudgingly, and misrepresenting his big reform strides as doing the bidding of others in his Administration! Can anyone expect more from a defiant Trumpist, but ongoing embarrassment to himself, and a shameful denigration to his reputed profession. With fraternal affection, Asher🙏😩🇺🇸😢🇮🇱🕍

  3. Thank you for your response above, Larry.

    I was a bit concerned when the other local frum weeklies had extensive Purim sections, filled with jokes and satire, but there was nothing similar in the 5TJT. Had the ongoing pandemic driven the editorial board into a state of depression?

    I guess I just should have waited a bit longer. I guess it’s kind of strange, publishing your Purim addition in these days between Pesach and Shavuos, but I have to admit, you came up with the funniest jokes of them all. The way you characterize yourself as centrist? As seeing issues from both sides? And, most importantly, as not sliding further and further into blinkered right-wing propaganda as your own self-confessed viewing habits have moved from Fox to Newsmax and (most likely) OAN? HYSTERICAL!

    Again, thank you, Larry, for giving me possibly the best belly-laughs I’ve had in months. Keep up the good work!

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