Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Bunglers of Zion

[Several people have complained that they cannot understand this post, so let me explain.
This last Sunday I received a comment in 3 parts with a name to the comment. The commenter introduced himself as a professor in psychology (sic) in New York. He alleged that an enemy of Chaim Halpern has engaged in a tactic known as ‘pre-fiction-opinion’ and that ‘in excess of $20,000’ has been paid to a psychology professional to ‘design and conclude the tactic against the present victim.’ He claimed to ‘know’ this from Velvel’s comments.
I thought the claim was utterly preposterous but nevertheless published it to allow the readers to decide. I then went on to read Parts II and III of the comment where the writer makes allegations that a specific psychologist in Cincinnati, Ohio ‘has published a named opinion against RCH’ and a lot more besides.
After reading these further parts I could see they were written by a loon at best and so removed Part I. Shortly after, the same named commenter wrote to complain that I had removed his post. I forwarded the posts to some friends just for a laugh.
On Tuesday someone forwarded me an email signed with the initials of the same commenter. In it he complained of my removal of Part I of the post and as further ‘proof’ of his theory that 1 hour later Velvel and I stopped ‘their campaign.’ (For the record, Velvel had sent me his valedictory lament on Sunday morning and I put it up briefly when some people saw it. I was writing my post of that day ‘Cast Adrift’ and decided to reserve the comment for the new post where it remains.)
In the meantime others carried out investigations with the purported accuser and the purported accused, both of whom are real people in NY and Cincinnati respectively. They both immediately denied any involvement.
It may all have ended there had not the UOHC Rosh Hakohol, Dovid Frand, stepped in. He had also received some or all of the above comments and emails. He forwarded them by email to a visible list of 8 people consisting of all the tuvei ho’ir, or Honorary Officers, of the UOHC (for the list, see the heading on the UOHC wall calendar,) plus a couple of others.
This too would not have been worthy of comment except that Frand saw fit to add to the forwarded email the following:
The e-mail below was received from a professional in NY.
It looks serious
Please read it and forward it to as many relevant parties as you can
Maybe even to whoever can get it into the JC
And now read on…]
By A Reader
(spiced up by yours truly)
A strange email hit my inbox early yesterday afternoon from an acquaintance who seemed to be spamming his entire address book. The email had already been sent to half of London in descending order of chashivus and originated from none other than our esteemed Rosh Hakohol. It contained the following instruction that was clearly adhered to with the usual zeal:
“Please read it and forward it to as many relevant parties as you can”
Our choshuver Rosh had emailed his entire kitchen cabinet including no doubt its two sinks, dishwashers and Pesach corner. It had to go through 6 layers before it filtered down to little old me but at least I’m now able to identify where I stand in the communal hierarchy.
The salient point of the email is that a UOHC employee received an email from someone purporting to be a Yeshiva University (YU) Professor of Psychology and Education. The email claimed that the entire Chaim Halpern saga has all the classic hallmarks of a setup and was orchestrated by a person “presumed to be Reb Berel”. He went on to claim that some hapless professor in Cincinnati, Ohio (some tomene city with its own eiruv r”l) had charged $20,000 to falsify witness statements in order to dupe the NW rabbonim.
In his tremendous excitement the Rosh suggested to the greatest and goodest (excuse my Kedassia English) of our Kehillo:
“Maybe even [send it] to whoever can get it into the JC”.
The JC! He must have been jumping in his chair and punching the air to invoke the name of that treifene tzeitung. Did the fact that this email was infested with appalling English not bother him or can he not spot a howler so long that it comes with a hechsher? For goodness sake, he could have checked his own kosher dictionary.
What about the fact that this YU professor was using a gmail account? Or that the rabbi and academic claimed not only to know who had apparently falsified the statements but even the amount of bung in the brown paper bag! And how did he claim know all of this you may ask? Well, he explained, he had followed the whole story on this very blog and was able to deduce all these facts from the comments section.
Any alarm bells ringing? Well, apparently not in our Dear Leader’s insect-free head. Of course the most basic fact checking would have proved all this to be a fantasy, though one can be melamed zechus that such checks just aren’t available on a filtered internet.
A simple email to the actual address (which surprise, surprise ends in @YU.EDU) elicited the following response:
“Thank you for writing and informing me of the use of my name and with a pseudo email address, one that I have never had or used.  I am going to contact gmail to see whether I can force discontinuance of its use.
Again, Thank You,
So let’s get this straight. An email from a Gmail account is sent to a low level UOHC guy making wild, libellous claims against R’ Berel Knopfler and some random person in the USA. But instead of the most basic checks or, heaven forbid, using a tiny amount of common sense, no less a person than the Rosh Hakohol bichvodo uveatzmo wants it to go straight out to the public and into the newspapers.
And he no less is the man at the tiller who apparently bolstered by this sensational scoop hit his eureka moment of which the letter below is the result. Until now we’ve been appalled at their lack of action in what is fast becoming for them an existential crisis, but after seeing this, doing nothing is probably their safest option.
Moirai vraboisai: I was wrong. We’re not cast adrift, we’re shipwrecked.