Monday, April 9, 2012

Internet Smearing: The Good Doesn't Undo the Bad

Individuals close to the editor of B’chadrei Charedim—a man accused of blackmail and extortion through reputation manipulation on his website—have announced that the editor’s release from jail will allow him to level explosive charges of his own against the Chareidi world. As if enough damage hasn’t been done.

At the same time, this individual's family members are now describing him to newspapers as "a simple man"—a man who took on financial responsibility for his family at an early age in order to help his elderly mother. It reminds me of a book by Robert Rockaway about the history of Jewish gangsters during the Great Depression. The book But They Were Good to their Mothers recalls some of the kinder acts of mobsters like Bugsy Siegel, Longy Zwillman and Moe Dalitz.

No one is denying that these men may have been good to their mothers. But they were still cold-blooded killers.

It's duplicitous to paint gangsters as heroes in any regard. And telling us what a nice man an extortionist is doesn’t let him off the hook.

Worse, B’chadrei Charedim was purportedly edited by observant Jews for observant Jews. I fear the chillul Hashem is that much worse when the world at large associates criminal activities with those who are purportedly Torah observant.

Some are calling this the largest blackmail scheme ever to take place in Israel. It's certainly one of the worst.

How unfortunate would it be if we discovered a website dedicated to our own community engaging in similar practices, smearing Jews and purposely misreporting about them because of some hidden agenda or another.

The truth has a way of surfacing.

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