This typically is a blog post I would rather not have had to write. However, I feel compelled to do so anyway because mistaken reports are not corrected and I care for the truth as I know it.
April 13, the Mail Online, the Internet wing of the British Daily Mail, headed: Ukip candidate standing against Andy Burnham in mayoral election is a bible-burning Orthodox Jewish rabbi, which sensationalist heading is quickly followed (and neutralized) by the following in bold:
- Shneur Odze reacted with fury when he found a religious tract in his synagogue
- It purported to be a Jewish Bible and was put there during Passover
- Mr Odze took the book out into the street and set fire to it
- A Ukip spokesman said: ‘While we understand the act, it was ill-advised to put a picture of it on social media’
This is what most people would read, and quickly one sees: that the rabbi had been furious, that this was a fake-Jewish Bible and that his political party mentioned that putting this news out could lead to misunderstandings. As far as I’m concerned, perfect reporting.
In the following article the Mail also adds why the rabbi was so angered, and that the book must have been placed there by a proselytizing religious sect, of former Jews trying to convert practicing Jews to a belief in Christ as the prophesied Messiah.
“[T]o give the book away ‘would be to compound the fraud’, and to throw it away would be to ‘disrespect what is still a religious tract’, he said his only option was to burn it.”
It’s inconceivable that he would have said that, as if throwing away would be more disrespectful than burning.
For Jewish Law, that whole book meant to treacherously deceive people is worthless, not a religious article and all of it, including the Hebrew Bible text in it can be destroyed or discarded – while a dilapidated proper Hebrew Bible must be buried. Same text, same letters; the intention to produce it makes all the difference! And it goes without saying that an Orthodox rabbi would never burn or damage a religious artifact of any religion — especially a monotheistic one. The Mail quotes him:
‘It was no more a bible than a Beano wrapped in the cover of The Mail on Sunday is a newspaper, but I accept that it was unwise to post the pictures.’
* * *
On the other side of the Pond, three days later, the much respected Left-leaning activist JTA news agency published, based on the above news item: Orthodox Jewish mayoral candidate in Britain apologizes for burning New Testament.
Was the Mail’s heading sensationalist, this is outright inflammatory. Yet, in the very first sentence the JTA admits that this rabbi apologized and that it concerned a “missionary bible” [their quotation marks]. I think that that takes the sting out of it, and any nonsense that followed (and it did — see below) is then of lesser importance.
JTA said that it concerned a Hebrew-language New Testament put in his synagogue by a proselytizing Christian group.
However, as the picture on twitter shows clearly, this is their infamous “Tenach” with means: the whole Hebrew Bible, but here fraudulently “augmented” with the “New Testament” in Hebrew and English — as if that was ever written in the Holy Vernacular — which it wasn’t.
The JTA journalist probably did not know Hebrew, but it is a unwise liberty and mistake to claim without any basis that the rabbi only burned the Christian edition. Is this because of the JTA bias against the super-religious (Chabad)?
The JTA then adds that Odze told the newspaper that he felt he had no choice but to burn the book because he did not want to pass on what he believes is false religion to someone else and said that throwing a religious text in the garbage was distasteful, especially because it also contains the Five Books of Moses.
As one can see in my true quote of the Mail above, he never made a distinction between the Christian and Jewish part oft he book and never said that Christianity is a false religion.
* * *
Just as in the broken-telephone game, the article by the news desk of the most respectable Times of Israel came a few hours later with this news item: UK rabbi-politician burns Christian Bible, sparking ire; UKIP Manchester mayoral candidate Shneur Odze criticized for tweeting image of smoldering scriptures on Passover eve. It opened with: “A high-profile rabbi and aspiring politician stirred up controversy in British media when he burned a Bible on the eve of Passover.”
Disappeared now were the pointers under the Daily Mail article, and the opening by the JTA that there was an apology and that it concerned a “missionary bible” [quotation marks in the original] rather than a “Christian Bible” [my quote from the TOI].
The TOI’s article’s heading and opening is unbelievable because it did not give the correct information. The article after its opening started to correct itself a bit, but the damage by a faulty heading and opening is done. Those are the only parts that most people would read. And what followed was not undoing the problem, either. I quote:
“Rabbi Shneur Odze found a missionary bible amongst his synagogue’s books.” Left out is his anger.
“The Hebrew-English Bible was published by the Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures.” The TOI knew, apparently. Worthwhile adding that the name of this dishonest society used to be ” the Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures among the Jews” [my italics].
“Odze claimed [sic] that the book contained not only the Old Testament, which Orthodox Jews consider holy, but also the Christian New Testament.” Claimed implies that this could be disputed.
“He later tweeted that “it’s given to Jews as a ‘Jewish bible’ pretends to be a Jewish bible and it’s not.”” Good point, but much too late in the article.
* * *
I immediately wrote the TOI news desk:
Mistake — please correct urgently: He burned a Missionary Bible. There is a BIG difference. No rabbi would burn a Christian Bible!
But this Bible has the “New Testament” in Hebrew and English. The inclusion of the “Old Testament” is only to lure the Jews. This Publishing House used to be called “the Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures among the Jews” [my italics] and only dropped the last three words to hide its hideous ideals. Dishonesty also goes against Christian tradition, which, like the Jewish one and all religions values truth, honesty and integrity.
Jewish Law strictly forbids burning sacred Jewish texts like from Tenach (and even more so a whole Tenach) — when they get old we bury them! But, amazingly, in such sneaky publications it’s not considered holy.
Please change this that there won’t be a chilul hashem for nothing and so that I won’t have to blog about it after the Chag (I’m not threatening — only hoping).
* * *
It did not help. The item stayed unchanged, so that now I needed to blog these corrections.
Thankfully, the Times of Israel does not only believe in truth and reporting all sides of issues — it is also a tolerant home to bloggers. As long as bloggers’ texts are respectful and truthful, they will host them.