Facts Are Irrelevant: Rebutting the New York Times’ Unrelenting Crusade Against New York Yeshivas

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The New York Times continues its unabashedly relentless crusade of othering yeshivas as backward and abusive. Today, the New York Times described how legislation is being advanced in Albany to counter the phenomenon whereby “many Hasidic schools made regular use of corporal punishment to keep students in line during hours of grueling religious lessons.”

“The New York Times has misfired yet again in its latest attack on the Orthodox community,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America. “Our yeshivas are positive, warm, learning environments which impart our traditions; that is why our parents choose them. The notion, painted by the Times, that children in yeshivas subsist in a cruel, abusive environment where they are ‘regularly hit, slapped or kicked by their instructors’ is simply untrue, and the data described below supports that they are actually far safer there than public school. Agudath Israel supports the new legislation to crack down on unwarranted corporal punishment in all schools, both public and private.”

The New York Times credits its reporting for effecting this legislation.

In fact, the referenced New York Times report stated that “Over the past five years, the New York City Police Department has investigated more than a dozen claims of child abuse at the schools.”

Subcribe to The Jewish Link Eblast

As KnowUs noted when this report first emerged:

The Times found more than a dozen unsubstantiated claims, in unaffiliated schools, serving tens of thousands of students each year, over five years.

While even one incident of abuse is one too many, in the spirit of “substantial equivalence,” how does this figure compare to reports of abuse in New York City public schools over the same period? According to a recent Times Union investigation:

“From January 2016 through June 2021, the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Special Investigations received 16,671 complaints alleging corporal punishment, state records show.” (Emphasis added.)

Still more embarrassing for the Times, this morning, Senator Julia Salazar, the sponsor of the bill referenced by the Times, took to Twitter, addressing the Times:

“To be clear: We introduced this bill because the law should *explicitly* ban corporal punishment in all schools. The use of physical or violent methods to ostensibly discipline students has happened in many schools. I haven’t seen any evidence of it being a pattern in yeshivas.”

One of Senator Salazar’s co-sponsors on the bill, Senator Andrew Gounardes publicly echoed these remarks.

Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein added:

“Correct, Senator. No corporal punishment at ANY school. As a yeshiva parent/former student, I’m not familiar with the use of corporal punishment at yeshivas, nor would I tolerate it. Sadly, @nytimes needs to continue its onslaught against Orthodox Jews & prop up their mudslinging.”

KnowUs, a division of Agudath Israel of America, calls on city, state, and federal legislators and people of good faith to call out the Times’ patently disingenuous reporting. The interminable, hateful demonizing of the Orthodox Jewish community in New York must stop.





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