Empire State of Anti-Zion
The brief tenure of a state GOP Director of Jewish Outreach
Yossi Gestetner, the former New York State GOP Director of Jewish Outreach (as of 20 hours ago) has nearly 3,800 followers on Twitter. There he lets his conservative flag fly, not hesitating to comment on the failure of the Obama-led economic recovery and to talk up Republican candidates for office (and occasionally suggest that Bill Clinton bears some responsibility for 9/11 or that President Obama may not be an American-born citizen). Gestetner also likes to talk small ball: local Jewish politics in Rockland County, depictions of Hasidic communities in the media that he finds objectionable, and dispatches from community events in the tri-state area.
Accordingly, Ed Cox, the New York State GOP chair (and son-in-law of President Richard Nixon), must have considered the 27-year-old Gestetner to be a natural fit to bring Jewish voters out for the Republican Party when Cox appointed him to the post of New York State GOP Director of Jewish Outreach just over a week ago.
And though Gestetner blogs avidly and has tweeted over 12,000 times, a look at his prolific output will yield very little on one issue that delivers many Jewish voters toward Republican candidates: Israel. Of the several hundred tweets he’s sent out into the world in the past month alone, Gestetner only mentioned Israel 11 times, none of which contained any kernels of the advocacy upon which he’s built his career.
Last night, an expose by The Jewish Channel blew the lid off of the story when it aired an interview between Gestetner and journalist Steven Weiss, in which Gestetner’s past work consulting for the group True Torah Jews Against Zionism was revealed. When confronted in the (tense) interview, Gestetner equivocated often about his previous work as well as his personal views on Zionism and Israel, never endorsing the idea of a Jewish State:
“I’m an American, I live in the United States, and I hope to see that people who live in Israel, such as I have immediate family, that they are safe and sound.”
The interview also touched on accusations that Gestetner advocated on behalf of alleged criminals and child abusers in the Hasidic community. On Gestetner’s blog, one can find a vigorous (and baffling) defense of the decision by the family of Leiby Kletzky—the eight-year-old Hasidic boy whose murder made headlines across the country last summer—to rely on a local Jewish civilian patrol (shomrim) to investigate the boy’s disappearance instead of immediately calling the New York Police Department. Numerous ultra-Orthodox communities have come under major fire in recent months for refusing to report crimes within the community to local authorities (and ostracizing those who do).
According to the report by The Jewish Channel, less than 30 minutes after GOP State Chairman Ed Cox found out about the investigation of his new appointee, Gestetner had resigned. In a post on his blog, Gestetner claims that his resignation had nothing to do with the interview. An excerpt of the post:
As I tweeted earlier, I resigned my duties as Director of Jewish Outreach for the New York State Republican Committee.
A main reason behind this is simple: Dean Skelos, the Leader of the Republicans in the New York State Senate has an understanding with former NYC Democratic Councilman Simcha Felder that he, Skelos, will back Felder in the November elections for the “Super Jewish State Senate District” on the expense of David Storobin, a sitting Republican State Senator.
I reached Gestetner via e-mail last night to ask him about the interview with The Jewish Channel. Here’s what he wrote:
Mr. Weiss whose news reports have less views in a busy week than what my blog has on a slow day, is claiming credit for a story that is bigger than him. I can’t waste my time responding to an irrelevant article whose videos of it show clearly that the writer is spinning and misrepresenting what has been said.
Monsey Blogger to Become an Orthodox Jewish Voice for GOP [Journal News]
New York State GOP Hired Anti-Zionist as Director of Jewish Outreach [The Jewish Channel]
Plus, Reform Rabbis makes less for equal prayer, and more in the news
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