Monday, August 28, 2006

The Times Hearts Hasidim

Sunday, the New York Times ran an article about the Satmar of Kiryas Joel which was gentle and generous. In fact, the paper described the tension in Orange Country between the Hasidim and their neighbors with the same sort of blase equanimity which critics of the paper's Israel coverage find so maddenening.

No mention was made of the semi-legal mechanations the Satmar have employed in pursuit of expansion. Very little was said about KJ's relentless pursuit of political ends, like its much-reviled attempt to get the state to pay for a public school system for its disabled students, or it's efforts to build a pipeline to tap into the New York City water supply. There were a few words about the village's plans to expand and annex land, but it was the county residents who worry that the Hasidic expansion will change the tenor of their town who came off looking suspicious and resentful.

I bring this up specifically because Yaakov Menken has recently informed me, via email, that only a simpleton would say that the media is kind to ultra-Orthodox Jews. Dear Yaakov, had the Times wished ill upon Satmar of Kiryas Joel, there are many unpleasent truths their reporter might have told. Instead, the story was written up as a simple dispute between neighbors; some of whom prefer farms and open spaces, and others who prefer sidewalks and children.

And as I read it, the neighbors got the worst of it.

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