Marvin Schick has another disingenuous ad in the Jewish Week. In it, under the headline, "What’s Wrong With Mesirah," (informing; telling the police, media or government about crimes committed by Jews) Schick tells us: everything is wrong with mesira.
Schick’s argument is simple. American (and Israeli) justice is unfair and imperfect. Criminals are not given the option of restitution rather than jail. Therefore, you should not tell the police about crimes committed by Jews. Schick has one caveat to this blanket condemnation of reporting Jewish criminals to police.
He writes, "There are instances of spousal abuse, child abuse, and other situations where leading Orthodox rabbis have instructed that civil authorities be notified."
What Schick does not tell you in his carefully parsed language is that those instances are few and far between. Only one or two haredi rabbis of note have endorsed going to the police and that endorsement has been on a case by case basis. Indeed, a wide range of leading haredi rabbis both knew about Rabbi Kolko’s abuse and forbade victims and parents from going to the police. Rabbis as diverse as Elya Svei, Avraham Pam, and ArtScroll’s Nosson Scherman all are said to have known about the allegations. Pam and Scherman fought to have Kolko banned from teaching. None went to the police and Rabbi Kolko continued to abuse young boys. Take a moment and read the alleged history of Rabbi Kolko and the rabbinic coverup.
Schick continues, "The yeshiva deans who compromise the board of Torah Umesorah, the National Association of Hebrew Day Schools, adopted a policy statement …" What is this policy statement? It is an old statement about child abuse, in place during the last years of Rabbi Kolko’s abuse but not enforced. Schick does not bring the meat of the policy statement. All we know from what he quotes is that Torah Umesorah agrees that child abuse is bad and that, according to a letter sent by the organization’s executive director, "If there is indeed an allegation of child abuse, and that allegation proves to be true, and the matter that had come to your attention was not attended to, you will be liable both in the eyes of G-D and according to secular law."
What Schick does not tell you is that Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah both opposed mandatory reporting law that would have made rabbis mandatory reporters of suspected abuse. If that law had been in place, many of the "gedolim" would now be facing criminal charges in the Kolko affair.
Schick concentrates much of this week’s ad decrying the imprisonment of financial frauds, cheats and thieves. What Schick does not tell you is that his beloved nephew is one of them, having defrauded dozens of investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This would be a disclosure any journalist would need to make. Schick – who uses his bought and paid bully pulpit to club the press – does not make this necesary disclosure because he holds the press to a higher standard of honesty than he holds himself or his community.
Which brings us to the Jewish Week. Schick’s ‘columns’ are paid advertisements, and need to be labeled as such by the Jewish Week. Indeed, the Jewish Week promised me months ago that they would begin doing so immediately. If you look at the PDF of the ad (Download schick_mesira.pdf ), you’ll note that, within the borders of the ad there is one small line of type that reads, "This space is privately sponsored." No respectable publication would consider that a sufficient disclaimer. Indeed, the standard disclaimer on any ad of this type (something that does not look like display advertising) is to label it, "Paid Advertisement," and put that label above and under the ad to show the newspaper is not a party to the ad’s contents, and to do so in a way that cannot easily be missed.
The Jewish Week ran Schick’s paid ads – ads that in some cases libeled others – without a disclaimer. Now it runs them with a small, ambiguous note within the ad itself. Gary Rosenblatt and Company know better. Schick is a stain on the Jewish Week, and that stain is made measurably larger by this type of deceptive behavior. Put more simply, it makes you look dishonest, Gary.
[Hat Tips: Yisroel for the tip and Dr. R-F for the scan.]