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Wednesday, August 23, 2017 

The mendacity of "rabbi" Avi Shafran

This may be from a few months ago, but I think it's worth bringing up, because from what I've found out about the Haredi rabbinical figure in question, some more observation is needed. The writer Shoshana Keats Jaskoll, a resident of Beit Shemesh, which has had serious problems with Haredi extremists for many years now, brought up the subject of Avi Shafran, a director for the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America, who's acted as apologist for lifestyle, making himself little better than CNN's pro-Islam reporter Reza Aslan, who produced a hypocritical report about Haredi communities, all so he could feel good about himself. And while Islamofascism is certainly worse, that doesn't mean there aren't or haven't been valid issues to raise about how the Haredi clans have been conducting business. Some interesting points are raised by Jaskoll, as well as Noonlight and Moonshine, and Rationalist Judaism in rebuttal to Shafran's lies, and I'd like to address at least one more detail his cruddy piece in The Forward features, which is troubling:
As to the ugly incidents, Ms. Jaskoll relates that a “young girl was caught in the middle of an anti-draft protest” in Jerusalem and was kicked, first by a child and then, when she grabbed the boy, by demonstrators. The “young girl,” readily available video shows, was an adult woman; and her presence in the middle of a large protest is unexplained and suspicious. Do those facts justify her treatment? Of course not. But also unjustified is mischaracterizing her age and presence.
First off, as awkward as it may sound, there are people today who could call a young woman a "young girl" as well. Certainly it's long been thought fitting to call young women "girls", but sometimes some people can add "young" to the mix just as much. This just shows how out of touch Shafran is with modern slang in wider society that's better informed than he is.

Second off, despite seemingly admitting that it was reprehensible for the demonstrators to assault the lady, he still tries to suggest she was some kind of government agent or plant, deliberately intended to provoke them to act violently. And I'm not sure she grabbed the boy per se either, because she dropped a phone while she was at it, and wanted to pick it up. Exactly why is it such a big deal whether the girl's an "agent"? There's always been people who could pass through a Haredi neighborhood for some casual reason or other, whether looking for a place to shop or heading to some business venue, and they're well aware of the possibility there's scumbags milling around the place, which doesn't mean they should be afraid to go there, or face violence.

Third off, it may not be justified to mischaracterize her age, but it's also unjustified to minimize the issues with suggestions this or that person is a deliberate provocateur, intended to stir Haredis into a frenzy.

I also discovered that Shafran may have lied about how the Haredi circles he represents deal with issues like sexual/child abuse, and it looks like he was doing this for quite a while. I can't remember clearly if he addressed the horrific incident at the Bnot Orot on Cross Currents, a Haredi site he's contributed to, but if he did, his response was very half-hearted and didn't address whether he believes Haredi education in itself has become a fiasco.

Shafran also missed a big chance to criticize Azlan for his pro-Islamist stance, and point out the hypocrisy of somebody panning Haredis for their MO when he's embracing a belief system that's even worse. But, Shafran threw away the chance, probably because to do so in his mind would be to admit he's embraced said hypocrisy himself.

After I realized just how mendacious Shafran is, I was more than a bit disgusted. Especially with how he seems to think censorship as practiced by Haredis is somehow acceptable. In the past months, I noticed that he may have even muted/blocked Jaskoll on Twitter. It doesn't surprise me that a man so otherwise dishonest would do that, though it does make clear he's not a source to rely upon. And, I'd even suggest he has more in common with leftists/socialists. Certainly if he's fine with welfare mooching, which contradicts the Torah lessons on the vitality of working to earn a living.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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