The Latest From Canonist Blogs

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June 9
May 14
May 11

Orthodox Union Joins in Abstinence-Related Anti-Condom Rhetoric

Advising teenagers that condom use is dangerous is widely assumed to lead to less condom usage among those who are sexually active, and now a Jewish group is giving the same advice you’ve heard of Christian abstinence classes giving.
The Orthodox Union has just launched its counterpart to the abstinence movement we’ve all read so much about. Read through the literature on the abstinence movement making its way through public schools and other childhood education, and you’ll find that it leads to decreased condom use among the sexually-active, that self-proclaimed “virgins” frequently choose instead to engage in sexual activity that they simply don’t consider “sexual intercourse” and tend to do it in an unsafe manner, and myriad other issues.
Now, if you were thinking that when Jewish groups, with so many health professional among their ranks having spoken out against these pro-abstinence tactics, would veer away from suggestions that could tempt Jewish youth into unsafe practices, you’d be wrong:

Condoms Are Not the Answer!
Condoms might protect people from pregnancy and most forms of STD, but there’s a lot they don’t protect people from.*
For starters, condoms do not protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be passed by body parts left uncovered by a condom. There are over 100 strains of HPV, which can cause a number of things, from genital warts to prostate cancer in men and cervical cancer in women. (Over 12,000 women develop invasive cervical cancer a year and over 4,000 women die from it.) HPV is most common among men and women who have multiple sex partners. (HPV can be detected in woman by a Pap test but there are no HPV tests for men.)
Additionally, a particular spermicide used in some condoms can actually make people more likely to contract HIV! Nonoxynol-9 (N9) is a spermicide used in many condoms (and most diaphragm jellies). N9 makes tiny scratches in the vaginal walls, which makes the transmission of disease more likely. A four-year study found that people who used N9 had a 50% higher rate of infection than those who used a placebo. (Use of N9 can also lead to vaginal lesions and urinary tract infections.)

Oh, and that asterisk at the top? Just in case you were wondering:

*There are certain forms of birth control that a married couple may be permitted to use under certain circumstances, but a condom is not among them. Married persons in search of guidance in this area, please consult your rabbi. If you do not have a rabbi, please email AskNCSY@ou.org.

May 2

Scurrilous and Libelous Attacks Against Israel Singer, or The Gary Rosenblatt School of Journalism

There’s no other way to describe an article that makes devastating claims in its headline and lede that the body of the article utterly fails to justify. Reporter Larry Cohler-Esses struggles mightily to justify the smear in his headline and lede that Singer used Holocaust reparations money to pay an old chum, Curtis Hoxter, but only comes close enough to pairing the two that you’d think he’s playing a twisted version of The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
“Holocaust Cash Went To Shadowy Pal Of Ousted WJC Leader,” blares the headline. But how close did Singer actually come to getting Hoxter those funds? Well, Singer once paid Hoxter as a consultant to the World Jewish Congress, and Hoxter subsequently received consultation payments from a Jewish organization that counts itself among the hundreds of organizations that receive allocations of grants from an organization for which Singer serves as a politician but has no role in allocations.
Now, I’ve restrained myself from commenting on the latest round of Singer bashing by the incompetents of the Jewish media, and I’ve always held back from presenting any new information on the campaign NYJW editor Rosenblatt and others have waged against Singer owing to my conflicts of interest with him (though I notice the various reporters antagonizing Singer haven’t restrained themselves even when they have similarly significant conflicts of interest, as they often do). And though I probably could get all kinds of information for this latest, I’ll again hold back and let the disgraceful and disreputable Rosenblatt company’s transparently poor journalism speak for itself.
Completely apart from whatever Hoxter was actually doing for this series of unrelated Jewish organizations, to claim that Singer negotiated the transfer of Holocaust reparations funds to a buddy without any sort of proof is surely as low as as a bottom-feeder can go. Unless Rosenblatt and Cohler-Esses would next like to claim that Singer actually transferred the money back to Herr Hitler, there’s just no greater level of depravity available.
It was one thing to libel Singer for several years, falsely claiming any number of things that Isi Liebler would feed the NYJW that the attorney general’s report ultimately found baseless. But when Rosenblatt and Cohler-Esses, with Liebler backing them, claim he took money from Holocaust reparations funds, it’s no longer just an illegal breach of First Amendment rights, it’s an inhuman thing to do.
Unlike many of the other Jewish figureheads involved in reparations, Singer, who spearheaded the whole thing, never took a penny from Holocaust reparations for his decade-long battle to win some measure of justice from German and Swiss banks, among others. Other Jews involved are taking millions home to their families, while Singer’s reward is to be shoved out the door at his organization for falling out of political lockstep with a billionaire patron. And to heap filthy, unjustifiable claims from the NYJW upon that, well, when they said it doesn’t pay to be the good guy, they couldn’t have imagined the level of inequity to which Singer has been subject. And for some reason beyond my comprehension, Rosenblatt and Cohler-Esses, and again Liebler, are forever eager to continue to slam the scales even further. In what would almost be a comical turn if it weren’t so disgusting, Rosenblatt and Cohler-Esses have developed a warped reality in which a man who never took a penny for himself in a cause to which he devoted a major portion of his life actually chose to toss all his morality out the window by using reparations funds to instead get more money for a guy who used to consult for his employer. Huh?
One of the most inscrutable things about this story is that it starts from a relatively legitimate premise. By all appearances, Singer didn’t get the proper permissions for Hoxter’s consultancy with the WJC. For once, Cohler-Esses is correct when he points this out. But instead of a story about how Singer once again didn’t run the finances of the WJC well, Cohler-Esses and Rosenblatt concocted perhaps the most hurtful claim they could against Singer. Read through the story and see if you can come up with the logic behind their connection of Singer to Hoxter’s employment with the March of the Living; it’s like an addict’s feeble attempt at playing connect the dots on LSD.
In light of all this, it might seem out of place to even discuss that core issue on which Singer has actually been pegged — the unauthorized, seemingly somewhat secret payments to Hoxter. But it’s actually quite enlightening about the blindness Cohler-Esses and Rosenblatt have developed on this issue.
Why would Singer seemingly have the WJC pay money to Hoxter, and why would those payments seemingly not get recorded in publicly-accessible documents?
Here, let me rephrase that question:
Why would Singer, trying to find a way to stymie some of the largest banks and corporations in the world and gain some measure of justice for their complicity in and profit from Jewish genocide, have Hoxter — a consultant and negotiator whose employment by the Swiss and German banks was anything but secret, and a major feather in the cap of these groups trying to hold on to their bloody billions — spend the decade of those fierce negotiations clandestinely and unbeknownst to key figures actually receiving undisclosed payments from the Jewish organization trying to defeat his disclosed employer?
Gee, why on earth would Singer do that?
Maybe my readers can accomplish what Cohler-Esses and Rosenblatt obviously cannot, and put two and two together.

April 19

@ The Orthomom Hearing…

They’re starting off with some clerical issues, sorting out whose memos respond to what, and etc. Nothing interesting yet…
Judge says she only read one of the two briefs by Levy, because she thought they were duplicates…
“I don’t have any duplication of the allegedly defamatory statements…”
Fire alarm interrupts proceedings for about 40 minutes.
Levy and Rosenthal (representing Orthomom) inform me during the break that as we closed, the judge had said that she would only read Levy’s reply to Feder (representing Greenbaum) in relation to the motion to intervene (basically saying that she intended to include it in her decision, even if in a roundabout fashion).
As we closed, the judge was pressing Feder to decide which statements he is saying are the defamatory ones on which she will decide, and he hadn’t yet specified when the fire alarm went off. We’re about to get started back up…
And we’re back…
Counsel is seated, and presumably we’ll have some dialogue soon.
Judge: “When I called counsel up earlier this morning to make sure the papers were in order and that I had all the filings, I also asked Mr. Feder whether the statements set forth in paragraph 37 of his affirmation in opposition to the motion for leave to intervene constitute all of the statements whether made by the operator of the blog or the commentators that the petitioner alleges are defamatory, so let’s begin Mr. Feder with your answer to that question.”
Feder: “Yes, your honor.”
So, Feder is going to rely for his case solely on statements Orthomom made subsequent to his filing suit.
Levy is making the case that Orthomom can intervene. Feder gets up to assert that his problem is that the intervenor didn’t obtain permission to proceed anonymously, mentions a recent case in this courthouse that had an anonymous application tossed. He says that Orthomom is not “an entity.”
Judge: “Are you alleging that the comments that are defamatory come not only from the operator of the blog known as Orthomom, but also from the commentators?”
Feder: “Correct.”
Levy: “The issue in the main motion is whether Orthomom may maintain her anonymity…Orthomom is a real person [just with anonymity]…Generally, our experience in litigating cases like this in courts around the country is [that if the plaintiff wins then anonymity is revealed].”
Judge confirms with Levy that he has proof of representation that he could provide in camera, and Levy affirms he has it, but that he doesn’t have it with him right now.
Judge then asks how Levy can purport to represent commenters. Levy says she’s basically offering a service to those who made comments on her blog, as Google perhaps would do if it had the opportunity to represent the millions of bloggers in its constituency (relying on various precedents he mentioned in his response, specifically NAACP. He also says that a claim in Feder’s own brief makes this case, in suggesting that it’s Google’s responsibility to represent Orthomom). He further says that Orthomom tried to provide notice to commenters so that they could contact Levy, but given her Orthodoxy and readers’ Orthodoxy and the inability to post on Passover, that posting was only made late by Orthomom and commenters only saw it late.
Feder: “It’s not correct what counsel has stated, that Orthomom cannot post on Passover,” and cites postings by her on Passover.
Apparently, no one at the bar is familiar with chol hamoed.
Feder is going through the Google user agreement to explain his argument for no expectation of privacy.
Google’s lawyer replies that Google will comply with any court order, but only a court order.
Judge: “The court is going to grant leave to intervene to the blogger Orthomom,” so long as Levy provides proof of representation in camera, “which will be sealed, and may be produced under seal pending the termination of the underlying proceeding.”
10 minutes for each side to argue.
Feder: “My client is Pamela Greenbaum, she is sitting in the back of this courtroom, she is a mother…”
Judge: “She is an elected official, is she not?”
Feder: “She is elected, but she’s not an elected official, a politician… I don’t know who Orthomom is…Orthomom maligned Ms. Greenbaum for a number of years…until a posting, ‘way to make it clear you have no interest in representing the private school community in any fashion.’…Orthomom proposed funding for programs that are illegal, that are only for yeshiva students…”
Feder then reviews the anonymous comments.
Judge: “Mr. Feder, you have stated in your papers that the term ‘bigot’ refers to anti-Semitic bigotry. You are basing that statement on the context in which the statements were made, rather than the actual use of the word ‘anti-Semite’ to refer to Ms. Greenbaum, is that correct?”
Feder: “Yes.”
Judge: “So, there is nothing in the comments that refers to Ms. Greenbaum as an anti-Semite?”
Feder: “Correct.”
Judge: And nothing in the comments…
Feder: “Correct.”
Judge: Aside from the comments, asks what is libelous in the actual posts.
Feder: Refers to Ariel Sharon vs. Time Magazine, saying that in the context, ‘bigot’ means anti-Semitic.
Judge: Are you saying opinion would be actionable under New York law?
Feder: No, but it’s “a mixture of fact and opinion.” Further, “we don’t feel we have to prove a case,” but just that “we have enough to continue to proceed to get the information that we need in order to properly frame our complaint.” Because “it’s possible that Orthomom signed in anonymously and left these comments.” Further, in subsequent posts…
Judge: “I’m sorry” was only going to consider other statements.
Feder: Reviews Orthomom’s claim that Greenbaum lied under oath. Referring to Ariel Sharon, which says that the claim of lying under oath by a public official can be defamatory. Orthomom is “accusing Ms. Greenabum of lying under oath.”
Judge: Are you asserting that you won’t have to prove actual malice?
Feder: “We don’t have to prove it…actual malice can be drawn from the statements themselves.”
Judge: “I’m asking you is there or is there not a requirement.”
Feder: Pauses. “There is a requirement, but malice can be shown from the words themselves.”
Judge: How does bigotry become equivalent to anti-Semitism.
Feder: Because that’s the only thing they could mean.
Judge: Asks how we get from Orthomom making claims Greenbaum has “no interest in representing the private school community” to anti-Semitism?
Feder: “Because…it’s only against the yeshiva students that Orthomom is saying Greenabum is against.”
Judge: And you’re inferring that actual malice can be inferred from those posts?
Feder: In regard to ‘bigot,’ yes. She had the opportunity to remove those comments, and she didn’t.

On to Levy.
Levy: Reading a text too fast for me to keep up, but basically a restatement of his previous briefs. Basically, Greenbaum’s not proven any defamatory statements on Orthomom’s part.
Levy on the perjury claim: Greenbaum alleges she’s being accused of perjury. “It’s a clever argument,” but “even an allegation of criminal conduct…if it’s clear to the reader that this is just a surmise,” then it’s “not a basis for…discovery.”
Levy on identifying commenters: “Calling someone a bigot is a claim that courts consistently treat as opinion.”
Levy slides through his whole statement without the judge questioning a single point.
Feder’s reply: “Levy’s saying proof is a defense, it’s not… This has affected her in her day-to-day living… the Supreme Court does not allow for libel… just because Orthomom is anonymous, it doesn’t give her the right to malign my client.”
Judge: “The court is reserving decision on the petition…I will not accept any supplemental submissions.” And judge also orders Levy to produce proof of representation, and in a sealed envelope Orthomom’s identity, in camera.

April 18

It’s Midnight; Must be a Frivolous Lawsuit Calling

You’d think a guy making legal threats he expected to be taken seriously wouldn’t call your home at 11:45. You’d be wrong. Apparently, it’s the season for lawsuits against blogs.
Someone claiming to be an attorney and a friend of Rabbi Aron Tendler of Baltimore, MD — who is a different fellow from the Rabbi Aron Tendler who recently resigned his pulpit in Los Angeles, CA — called at that late hour tonight to complain about a JewishWhistleBlower comment reading:

Also add Rabbi Aron Tendler (formerly of LA) to that list.

“That list” was “a quick list of people with connections to the state of MD that have allegations of some sort against them posted on-line” from his previous comment.
The caller asserted that JWB’s comment libeled his friend Aron Tendler by making it appear that the other Aron Tendler, the Baltimore one, was the one against whom the allegations have been made.
Of course, it’s obvious that the two could get mixed up, but not by JWB, who’s well aware — as are presumably all who’ve followed this case — that the two men are different. Hence JWB’s appellation “formerly of LA,” to distinguish the two. And similarly available is information that the Aron Tendler accused of abuse does have various connections to Maryland, and it’s been well-noted that he’s been seen in the Baltimore area since his resignation. But the caller didn’t want to hear that the writing by JWB was legitimate, or that it couldn’t reasonably be read as referring to the Baltimore Aron Tendler, nor that if he felt it hit too close to him, he was perfectly entitled to leave a comment in the same space. No, to those suggestions from me, he informed me that he is an attorney, claimed significant knowledge of defamation law, and that I could expect a lawsuit. To that, I said, “well, then I’ll look forward to reading your brief” and hung up.
At the late hour, I forget the caller’s name, but I think it might have been Irving or Edward Kramer, and the Caller ID showed up for a Thomas Kimberly (perhaps Kimberly Thomas) of (443) 414-9434.
What is it about blogs that brings the bad lawyers of the woodwork?

April 17

Orthomom Reply in Lawsuit

Here.
Attorney Paul Levy just rips to shreds Adam Feder’s arguments, and in response makes his case even more compelling than in his original memo to quash.
One thing I hadn’t written about in my post on Feder’s arguments was his discussion of Sony Music v. Does, which I didn’t have time to read, and didn’t have opportunity to compare their respective arguments on this issue. It’s only in reading Levy’s latest that I learn that Sony is a case of revealing the identities of file-sharers. I had assumed (naturally, one might say) it was dealing with an issue of some sort of true (thanks, arod) expression, but now know otherwise. My immediate thought upon learning this: Feder must be joking. I suppose one could make a more tenuous legal argument, and in truth Feder probably has in other areas of his brief, but that’s really quite special.
My favorite line:

The other statements on which Greenbaum relies for her claims against the commenters are likewise nor actionable as libel. It may be hurtful to be called ugly, but just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is ugliness—the comment is surely pure opinion.

Hey, that’s what happens when one puts one’s appearance on the table.

April 8

Greenbaum Brief in Orthomom Suit

Attorney Adam Feder’s response on behalf of school board member Pamela Greenbaum. As always, please link to the post, not the file.
Much like Feder’s other filings and writings, this brief has many elements of trying to get through the back door what Feder can’t fit through the front, scrambling around to find any tactic or element of civil procedure with which to get the judge to avoid making a decision on the actual libel laws. It’s weird that Feder is continually adopting this bob-and-weave strategy, seemingly assuming that the judge might actually let Feder win by avoiding Orthomom’s counsel’s attempts to create a schedule, or by a failure to as yet provide the best documentation possible that he actually represents Orthomom. It comes across as very bush league.
The brief has a number of other odd tactics: Feder pushes a line that in order to properly identify the commenters who actually referred to Greenbaum as a “bigot,” Orthomom must also be identified, in order to differentiate among the two, but once one has the former, it’s not at all clear why the latter makes any difference; he suggests that the claim Greenbaum is a bigot is a statement of fact, not opinion, and thus actually subject to legal remedies, leaving one to wonder if he expects a non-actionable statement to declare “In my opinion, Pamela Greenbaum is a bigot, though as a matter of fact, I cannot say;” he attaches posts written by Orthomom subsequent to the filing of the suit, the controversial matter of which is clearly still stuck somewhere in his own head, as he didn’t bother to explain it on paper, and somehow expects these to bolster his claims about previous posts, which are the matter about which he filed suit.
There’s more to be said about this. In the meantime, it’s worth comparing and contrasting with the Orthomom memo to quash.