An Orthodox Jewish group has launched a billboard campaign against the New York Times over its recent coverage of the city’s private yeshiva schools.
Agudath Israel of America has put up at least three billboards in Midtown Manhattan, accusing the paper’s recent investigations into the schools as being “misleading, and grossly distorted” that threatens their way of life.
According to the movement’s website, Knowus.org, “Antisemitism, especially against Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, is on the rise - from celebrities and athletes to brazen attacks on the streets. Netflix relishes anti-Orthodox Jewish content. A major newspaper launching a campaign against a minority group is always wrong. In this climate, it is deeply concerning.”
One billboard claims The New York Times wrote 12 articles “against Orthodox Jews” in the last three months.
Another billboard near Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan requests that The New York Times ‘stop attacking’ the city’s Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox communities.
A three-part billboard in New York City (Credit: Agudath Israel of America/Knowus.org)
The movement accuses the paper of “levelling a barrage of outrageous attacks” on the Chasidic communities, in which “they disparage our way of life writ large – everything from the way we educate our children, handle marriage, divorce and custody disputes and even the way we support our families while holding fast to our faith and traditions.”
As well as a website and large publicly displayed billboards, the group released a 40-page white paper outlining the published articles and their arguments opposing them, a social media outreach, and an informational video.
In a series of investigative articles published since September, The New York Times have claimed the Orthodox-controlled schools, known as yeshivas, had deprived students of a secular education, contributed to continued relative poverty, and exploited public funding grants.
In October, one yeshiva in Brooklyn was ordered to pay $8 million in fines over a “systemic and wide-ranging culture of fraud and greed”.
A 2019 investigation by The New York Times found that all 1000 students of a local yeshiva failed a standardised test in reading and maths.
In an article published in late December, The New York Times alleged that yeshivas had reportedly urged parents to apply for unnecessary medical prescriptions and submit requests for aid on behalf of their children, allowing private companies that serve Chasidic and Orthodox Jewish schools to collect over $350 million a year in government money.
In response, Agudath Israel of America released a statement last Thursday that read: “Another week, another front-page attack on Orthodox Jews – this time targeting children with special needs and their families,
“The New York Times confirms, for the thirteenth time in just three and a half months, its obsession with spreading misinformation and demonising Orthodox and Chasidic Jews,
“At the same time, antisemitic attacks specifically targeting the visibly Jewish in New York City – the ones targeted by the New York Times – have risen exponentially.”
A recent report carried out by Americans Against Antisemitism (AAA), found that 94 per cent of antisemitic attacks in the city were carried out against Orthodox individuals, while the Anti-Defamation League found that incidences of antisemitism have hit an all-time high in the country.