A joint statement being put out by a number of bloggers against religious harassment within the Jewish community. Personally I felt their statement wasn’t strong enough and have therefore adjusted it to my opinion. Here is MY adjusted version of their statement…
by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
A little over a month ago, a number of rabbis signed onto a ban that forbade advertising on
or otherwise working with the Jewish orthodox-news-oriented website VosIzNeias apparently without personally investigating the issue or contacting the web site owners to provide testimony. This ban singled out that one website without addressing other websites or public forums like newspapers or magazines raising suspicions of personal interest. The singling out of a solitary website raises many questions, particularly when newspapers in the same community regularly publish arguably libelous stories and online discussion forums for the community are essentially unbounded by civility and yet the “problem” was not addressed by a ban, but a particular web site.
VosIzNeias publicly stated that it has already raised its standards and is willing to do even more with rabbinic guidance, provided the same guidelines are applied to its competitors. Bans of this nature are generally brought into fruition by activists and this one is attributed to a specific activist who seems to have business and political interests in this ban. He ignored VosIzNeias’ request to meet with the rabbis in order to explore ways to satisfy their concerns thereby increasing concerns of personal interest and violating Torah standards of justice.
With this ban, the activist is threatening the commercial viability of the VosIzNeias business.
We have now received reports of continued harassment by this activist, who is now threatening to publicly denounce people, companies and charitable organizations who continue to cooperate (meaning, continue to advertise and keep the web site in business) with the website. He has also reportedly threatened to remove the kosher certification of companies that fail to adhere to the ban (which indicates collusion). However, on being contacted the activist behind the ban denied all knowledge of this harassment and attributed it to someone acting without authorization. We are, therefore, making no formal accusation as to who is conducting this campaign of harassment. Instead, we are pointing out that someone has taken convinced a number rabbi’s to sign on a ban without providing details and then used that as a club to intimidate and harass businesses and charities without permission from the rabbis.
To the best of our understanding, this activity is illegal. One individual told us he reported that harassment to the police. Harassing good people with threats is illegal, inexcusable and violates halacha and Torah law. We call on rabbis and people of good faith to denounce this behavior, and we encourage victims to respond to this activist as follows:
If he calls or e-mails you or your organization, thank him for bringing the ban to your attention and say that you will decide how to proceed after consulting with your rabbi or other advisor. Alternatively tell him that his actions clearly show that the ban itself is a violation of halacha, bans in general are a violation of halacha as is his approach.
Because of rumors that there is harassment involved in this matter, you regret having to tell
him that if he contacts you or anyone else in your organization again, you will have to report him to the police.
We have a copy of an e-mail forwarded to us by people involved, which includes a pseudonym and phone number, and we have been told of intimidating phone calls. Note that at this time we are withholding this activist's identity. If he continues harassing people, we will have to be less discrete.