The editorial philosophy of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz is somewhere to the left of MSNBC. But Friday it crossed the line from simply being liberal into being a slander rag—it called Andrew Breitbart and the Jews who wrote for his sites anti-Semites.
In this and many other expressions, Breitbart and other Jews working for his website exemplified the kind of radical right wing Jews who hate their liberal co-religionists most of all: in many ways, they are auto-anti-Semites.
While not part of the Breitbart “inner circle” I knew Andrew Breitbart well enough to be able to swear in a court of law (or a court of public opinion) without any worry of perjury that he was not anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, or anti-any religion or ethnicity. He was very pro-Israel, and at one point he was discussing with his partner/best friend Larry Solov a new site covering Israel called “Big Jerusalem.”
During the last year and a half of his life, I penned 2-3 articles a week the Breitbart “big” sites Big Government, Big Peace, Big Journalism, and Big Hollywood. So I guess I was one of those radical right-wing Jews the author of the Ha’aretz piece, Chemi Shalev was talking about. Many of the posts I wrote about were about Israel or other Jewish-related issues (one of the biggest of which was breaking the story about he anti-Semitic video that cost Helen Thomas her job). Not one post written by me attacked liberal Jews as a whole (though at times individual liberal and conservative Jews were attacked, especially ones who were too quick to label people as anti-Semites).
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Andrew wasn’t anti-Semitic, nor were any of the writers or editors Jewish or gentile. With two exceptions Andrew Breitbart wasn’t anti-anyone. The two exceptions were bullies and liars. He would sit down and discuss politics with people he vehemently disagreed without hate (unless the person fit into one of the two categories mentioned).
Andrew Breitbart was one of the biggest-hearted people I have ever had the honor of knowing. For example, while on the publicity tour for his latest book, Andrew appeared on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. Hewitt jokingly told Breitbart he was disappointed that his name wasn’t in the acknowledgements. Piling on to a good joke, I tweeted Andrew to let him know that Hewitt had no right to be in the acknowledgements, but as one of his most prolific contributors, I should have been named and received some of his royalties on top of it. The very next day, I received a phone call apologizing for not including me. He said he knew it was a joke, but he wanted to make sure I wasn’t really upset. That was the Andrew Breitbart I knew; he always found time to make others feel important.
The last time I saw Andrew was at the bar on the last day of CPAC 2012. Sarah Palin had just finished her keynote address and the tired crew of bloggers was getting ready to go out to celebrate the three days of intense work just completed —well, all except for Breitbart. Andrew was holding court in the lounge of the hotel bar, discussing the news of the day with a group of college students who had attended CPAC. He was answering their questions and wasn’t going anywhere until each questioner was satisfied. Andrew wasn’t there because of some need to be adored by a big crowd, but because he really cared about the future of this country, wanted to create new citizen-journalists, and wanted these students to understand what was going on around them.
That’s the point Chemi Shalev and the rest anti-Breitbart smear machine could never understand, Breitbart wasn’t working hard to promote politics or ego – he was motivated by his love of all people, a quest for the truth, and for the future of our children.
There is no way Ha’aretz’ reporter Chemi Shalev spoke to anyone who worked with Andrew before he claimed Breitbart was anti-Semitic. He certainly didn’t contact me before he called Breitbart’s Jewish writers, “radical right wing Jews who hate their liberal co-religionists” and “auto-anti-Semites.”
Five days before Shalev wrote that slanderous piece of חרא של פרות! (translated as cow sh*t! in English) was Tisha B’av a fast day where Jews mourn the destruction of the Holy Temples. The Rabbis teach us that the second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred between Jews. It’s a shame that Ha’aretz and reporter Chemi Shalev forgot one of the lessons of Tisha B’av so quickly.
Andrew passed away too soon, sadly he isn’t here to defend himself. But I will do my best to defend him the way he always defended me.
For example one Saturday evening after posting an article about M.J. Rosenberg, an anti-Israel columnist the day before on Big Journalism, I turned on my computer to find hundreds of twitter mentions on my account. Apparently, a senior person at the George Soros-funded Media Matters for America had decided to call me a Jew-Basher. Realizing that I would not be online during the Jewish Sabbath, Andrew led the entire team of Breitbart editors who had spent the day “beating up” the Media Matters people in my defense.
Something that Chemi Shalev could never understand, Andrew was a leader, as long as we had the truth on our side, he taught us to stand up to bullies no matter who they were, or what their standing. When any of the team followed his advice and the bullies got angry, Andrew would step in front of us to take the bullet. As opposed to someone like Shalev who would slander a dead guy who can’t answer back, and the people who worked for him.
Also in the article Shalev attacks Stephen Bannon who just took a leave of absence from running the Breitbart sites to run the Trump campaign. Having never met Bannon, I cannot comment on Shalev’s attacks.
A big taboo In the Jewish faith is something called lashon hara (literally “evil tongue”). The closest thing to lashon hara in English is slander, but it’s much more than that. More accurately, it’s wronging people through speech. The ancient Jewish Sages said that there are three transgressions that would cause a man to lose his place in the world to come: murder, adultery, and idol worship, but lashon hara is equivalent to all three (Bab. Erchin 15b).
Based on what he wrote about Andrew Breitbart, Mr. Shalev (and all of his Ha’aretz editors) need to spend a little extra time with their Rabbis for remedial lessons about not committing lashon hara. Shame on them!