In general, I really try hard not to post things that anger me. Especially if I feel like I am rewarding the site by giving them a link.
But I’m so very tired of The Jewish Daily Forward, a “progressive” Jewish news site, that I just don’t feel like I have a choice in this situation.
A few days ago, a woman was publicly abused. Her name is Racheli Ibenboim and she happens to be a Gur Hasidic woman running for political office in Jerusalem. She was mocked, made fun of, and pushed to her limits by a man bent on pushing his agenda. And all of this was published on the Forward, in this article.
Not one “feminist” on their site has spoken up about this. Not one liberal Jewish site (like Haaretz) has decided this is worth discussing. No one, in fact, seems to care. Except Hasidic Jews.
Because, of course, the only person who has really spoken up was a Hasidic man named Mordechai Lightstone, who bravely wrote a defence of her that I won’t be able to improve on, so I’ll just take the best part:
He asks more directly about how it feels to be physically intimate with someone for the first time. Clearly uncomfortable she resorts to euphemism to maintain her dignity.
He pushes and pushes. She asks if they can move on. He tells her “No” — and asks again.
Is it ever acceptable to sit down with a woman and repeatedly ask her how her wedding night was, in the face of her discomfort and objections, again and again and again? Are Haredi women different than other women that their sense of personal boundaries and right to privacy is somehow denied to them?
Mordechai does the right thing and calls out the author of the piece. But I don’t think that’s the real problem.
The real problem is sites like the Forward.
The Forward is responsible for the work it puts out. Its editors set the agenda and the tone for the writers. And pieces like this, make no mistake, are a big part of their agenda. It wasn’t a mistake or an oversight or a screwup. It’s how they work.
If we all understood that the Forward was simply a rag, no better than a tabloid, and more interested in views and hits than it will ever admit, then this would not be a problem. But the problem is that the Forward, with its century of existence, is seen by many, especially the liberal Jewish world, as some sort of bastion of journalism. And so articles like this: misogynistic, sick, abusive articles, are read and consumed without
The Forward is the go-to paper that is regularly quoted by the New York Times when it comes to anything happening in the Jewish community. Its editors are generally respected in the publishing world.
What a disgrace.
The fact that there has been no outcry from the rest of the liberal Jewish media speaks volumes. If such an article was written in a more conservative article about a liberal, the outcry would have been tremendous.
Not one person in the Forward or anywhere else has spoken out against the post. A progressive, feminist community not fighting misogyny in its own backyard. Instead, a Hasidic Jew had to do it for them.
Why? Because this is just politics, pure and simple. Division between people. Division that is promoted at the expense of the values of the very people that claim to be its standard-bearers.
When will unity, tolerance and understanding apply to all people on sites like the Forward? When will progressive actually mean what it should to these sites? When will morality overcome politics?
I’m turning blue as I hold my breath in anticipation.
UPDATE: Thanks to a fan who sent me this article just published today in Jezebel that could have just as easily been about the piece in the Forward.