Commentary blogger impugns Jewschool for support of OWS and J Street

Over at Commentary Magazine, Jewschool has been impugned in the silliest of conspiracy theories. (Sorry, and you thought this post would be newsworthy!) Apparently, we’ve colluded with the pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby J Street to “insulate” Occupy Wall Street from spurious accusations of rampant antisemitism. Both of those bodies — J Street and OWS — of course represent the vilest of trends in American life to Commentary.
Commentator Omri Ceren spins this giddy tale: J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami worked through Jewschool “boss” Daniel Sieradski to sic on OWS’s critics figures like former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer and former Vermont Governor Madeline Kunin. All to protect OWS from the vile Jew-hating going on under its auspices. The evidence: the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” occurs 700+ times in our archives, we’re co-sponsoring the J Street conference, and the Sieradski-operated Occupy Judaism site suspiciously vanished last night!
If Ceren had any journalistic chops, this entertaining proposal would have unraveled before embarrassing himself and his sponsor. As Sieradski rebutted last night, a simple tweet or email would have revealed:

Just for your information: I resigned from Jewschool in 2007 when I went to work at JTA News as part of a noncompete agreement and have had no relationship to the site in the successive five years. Also, Occupy Judaism has never worked with J Street in any capacity and the letter, to my understanding, originated with Mark Green and Elliot Spitzer, not J Street. Furthermore, I did not take the Occupy Judaism site down – I was experiencing an issue with my DNS server which I was unaware of until I saw Omri’s tweets accusing me of colluding with J Street to hide said letter.

As of yesterday morning, Ceren acknowledged his lack of professionalism when he changed a few lines in his article, but posted neither correction notice nor apology.
As for Jewschool’s involvement in both the Occupy movement and J Street, we’re quite comfortable with our association to both.  For the third time, we’re co-sponsoring J Street’s conference and a half-dozen of our writers will be there. A number of our contributors were (and remain) active members of Occupy Wall Street and leaders in Occupy Judaism. Now, we’re not prone to statements of what Jewschool as a whole believes — our editorial board and contributors, all volunteers, run the full spectrum of progressive views. But I think it’s quite safe to say that we enjoy being portrayed by Commentary’s comical conspiracy as a hub of activism on progressive movements within America and American Jewry today.
And, look, Jewschool is no stranger to amateur blogging — we’re all volunteers here, writing about Jews and progressive issues because of our passion for both. If Ceren made a few mistakes, we’ll forgive him that. Here, we don’t have paid staff or editors to fact check everything. We’re not lush with Commentary’s generous editorial budget. But we expect every writer to blog from personal experience (not Googling), to fact check, and when proven wrong to own their mistakes like big kids. But our masthead is clearly posted, our Twitter and email accounts are active, and yet never once have we or Sieradski been contacted. It’s clear from Commentary’s recent history that their mistakes are ideologically motivated. And the editorial staff seem to hardly care, for this continues to be a problem. As of today neither Ceren nor Tobin gave Jewschool, Sieradski, or Occupy Wall Street any courtesy of an apology or noted correction.
Commentary Magazine: all the news that’s fit to Google with half the accuracy.

5 thoughts on “Commentary blogger impugns Jewschool for support of OWS and J Street

  1. What do you call allegations of a media conspiracy employed in attacks on Jews? What do you call that, hmmm?
    It seems that that, umm, behavior is ok if it comes from the Neoconservative right.

  2. I’ll add a bit more to this and say that not only do writers here have a spectrum of views, but some, like myself, haven’t written anything here about Occupy, J Street, or anything relating to Israeli politics. It’s just not my focus or expertise. (Though I’ll admit to not writing much of anything recently. Amateur/volunteer blogging ranks way below my day job and family in priorities.)
    In addition, even with the Jewschool sponsorship of J Street, from my understanding, the decision on issues like sponsorship of anything rests solely with the executive board. I’m pretty sure I first learned about it by reading a post on the site. Overlooking the fact that the tar is pretty weak, I find the attempt to tar this modestly sized blog as part of some coordinated anti-semitic conspiracy is a bit annoying. I’m not even sure an accusation that this site is coordinated would stick.

  3. The best part of the response is this:
    “Well guess what friends, I hope you have your tinfoil hats on! Because here’s the big conspiracy for you: I am a technology consultant for your online ad sales rep. Indeed, I helped setup your ad server. And while I have never received a dime of George Soros’ money (which I would unashamedly welcome), I have taken yours! Thus by Omri’s reasoning of guilt by association, that makes Occupy Judaism’s purported efforts to cover up antisemitism at Occupy Wall Street a secret plot by no less than Commentary Magazine itself!”
    HA! larious. I used to read Commentary after a family friend with impeccable intellectual credentials bought me a subscription following my Bar Mitzvah. By the time I graduated college in ’94, it had taken a bit of a turn and in subsequent years went off the rails… This shows how out of touch it now is, how far its fallen… very sad…

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