May 9th, 2011
12:17 PM ET

Religious paper apologizes for erasing Clinton from iconic photo

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Faith has outweighed fact at Di Tzeitung, a Hasidic newspaper based in Brooklyn, New York.

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish publication ran a doctored copy of the iconic “Situation Room Photo” last Friday – you know, the one taken of President Barack Obama and his national security team during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.

Scrubbed from the picture: the two women in the room.

It’s as if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with her hand clasped over her mouth, and Audrey Tomason, director of counterterrorism, weren’t there and weren’t part of history.

The newspaper later apologized for violating White House instructions against altering photos.

"We should not have published the altered picture, and we have conveyed our regrets and apologies to the White House and to the State Department," the newspaper said in a statement Monday.

The original photo, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza, shows Clinton and Tomason.

The news of this broke Friday when Shmarya Rosenberg, 52, posted a quick piece on his blog Failed Messiah.

Rosenberg, of St. Paul, Minnesota, said he wasn't surprised by the photo doctoring and only posted something about it because "it was a slow news day."

A former ultra-Orthodox Jew, Rosenberg has been writing about the ultra-Orthodox community - mostly about crime and what he dubbed "strange media" - for seven years. He said the newspapers in that community have become "increasingly strange with their censorship of women's faces and women's bodies" over the past few years.

He said readers of the Yiddish-language paper used to see photos of rabbis with their wives and that there was then a time when the women were blurred. Now, they're just not there.

In the doctored photo published by Di Tzeitung, Clinton and Tomason are gone.

But in a written statement issued Monday afternoon by Di Tzeitung, the newspaper said that its decision to leave women out of photos is religiously mandated and that the right to do so is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

"The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. That has precedence even to our cherished freedom of the press," the statement said.  "Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board.

"Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging women, which is certainly never our intention," it continued. "We apologize if this was seen as offensive."

But offensive it was to Robin Bodner, executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.

At JOFA, "we educate and advocate for increased ritual, spiritual and leadership opportunities for women within Jewish law. And sometimes we get the feeling that men wish women were not even in the room," Bodner told CNN in a written statement.

"This picture by [an ultra-Orthodox] newspaper goes a step further by revising history to remove important women leaders from the historic room in which they were present.  It reminds us of how much work is still to be done!"

Within Judaism, there are a number of denominations - Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and modern Orthodox, to name some - and ultra-Orthodox Judaism accounts for just one branch of the faith. And within all of these branches, matters of Jewish law and obligation are often debated.

It's worth noting that the White House included its standard instruction with the photo caption when the image was released:

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

"We're not going to comment" on this matter, a White House senior official told CNN.

The leadership at Di Tzietung, though, apologized for breaking official White House photo rules.

"Our photo editor realized the significance of this historic moment, and published the picture, but in his haste he did not read the 'fine print' that accompanied the picture, forbidding any changes," the newspaper said in its Monday statement.

Furthermore, Di Tzeitung noted the Orthodox community's respect for Clinton, who served as a senator in New York for eight years.

"She won overwhelming majorities in the Orthodox Jewish communities ... because the religious community appreciated her unique capabilities and compassion to all communities," the statement said. "The allegations that religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office is a malicious slander and libel."

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: History • Judaism • Women

soundoff (1,711 Responses)
  1. RedTeam

    This is simpler than religious convictions. They are just idiots, all of them.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  2. Dave in Seattle

    So what would these religious crazies do with a female President (be it Clinton or Palin or such)? Just show shots of empty podiums? Nothing makes you as anti-reality and insane as religion.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  3. westernviews

    If only these guys could perfect the way to reproduce without women. Then they coudl have their fondest wish–to have their little boys club solely without having to deal with those "awful women" . They could circle jerk in perpetuity.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  4. Frisky Dingo

    "It looks like Muslims aren't the only ones who still throw rocks."

    May 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  5. The Bottom Line

    When this paper published the photo they did so agreeing to the disclaimer....The photograph may not be manipulated in any way. FINE THEM!!! They made use of the photo in a manner outside of the agreed stipulation. Make the fine so costly it puts them out of business.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  6. David

    Isn't religion beautiful?
    Maybe we should publish articles discounting the holocaust...I bet that would put Di Tzeitung into a tizzy.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  7. Artist

    They dress and look like freaks. Some kind of surreal amish looking person.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  8. smidge

    Imagine what problems these "editors" would have if the President was a woman! ha! Edit that one, dudes!

    May 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  9. mx

    Sounds like this organization violated the copyright, and should be sued by the American people. One of the most effective means of suppressing fanatical organizations is through their pocketbooks.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • kdog

      No one would dare touch them, they will just play the religious card.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • John

      Would be great, but they're Jews. In the US there are enough morons on both sides who worship the ground they walk on that this will be allowed to go without more than a whisper. Too bad too, maybe if people grew some balls to tell the religious nuts on all sides to mind their own business, just maybe some priorities would shift from what the fanatics want to what reality is.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  10. grey 11

    This is really sad and what sparks all the hatred in the world. Why even put up the picture? If they can't stand women, just avoid the picture all together.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  11. Anne

    So, let's act like women don't exist – that is until we need someone to darn our socks, make our beds and cook our meals – then they are suddenly "important' (oh, and don't forget ... uh ... the "s" word).

    May 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • lizng

      Don't forget we're good for making sandwiches too.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • fran glass

      also, we're good at carrying babies on our hips. that's imporant. :op

      May 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  12. dman

    Proving once again that every religion has its whack jobs.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  13. ELBY

    Henrietta Sald, Chana Senesh, Anna Frank, Golda Meir...
    Were these women obliterated from history as well?

    May 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  14. Paul

    Since facts are optional for this "newspaper", it should only be used to wrap fish and line the bottom of bird cages.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • kdog

      I suspect the birds might object...

      May 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  15. SeattleAl

    OK, so what did they do with Golda Meir?

    May 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • vasechek

      hasidic jews in brooklyn? they may have never heard of her...

      May 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  16. MWMMinority

    At least I haven't heard of Jews performing "mercy" killings.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  17. jsw

    as someone who happens to be jewish and smart as a tack, i can tell you without any reservation that these
    Hasidic people think they know truth WHEN IN reality they are Brain Washed Vermin.

    each nationality has certain secs or groups, they r ashamed of and are BOTTOM OF THE BARREL people.
    for jews like me here on long island, the brooklyn Hasidic are those.

    while many are nice, smarter then a ave american idiot ect...
    in the end they feel all other jews are nothing, if u dont follow thier MISGUIDED ways & lifestyle.
    ON TOP OF ALL OF THIS , THEY VERY OFTEN Marry wuth sisters and seconds cousins. So they have massive INBREEDING. if u look close it can be clearly seen and obserbed.
    when it rains, the men all ware the same large rain slicker on thier heads, they r like ROBOTS.

    so THIS Story does not suprise me in the least!

    For all u Christian people out there thinking u have all the answers of life: you have ZERO
    been conned worse then this group. i mean afterall u have been sold a bill of goods so far fetched...
    a jewish mystic is the son of god of which no man before him (millions of years passed) or even after him can connect
    on a high level to god... nonsence.

    in essence: both religions are full of mis-information and really just a business like a mcdonalds every 20 blocks or so...
    in truth the Christian religion is sooo bad, they they have taken god almost fully of the main picture and when u walk into a church u can clrealy see, and hear it is about a man named jesus.. a cult in like the hassids....

    May 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Guy Hawkes

      All religions kill! Believe in yourself.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Cythara

      If you are 'smart as a tack' then you should know that Judaism is a fake religion to begin with. It was started as a fake religion in 536 BC by returning exiles who used it to try and unite Samaritans and Judeans under their satrap to the King of Persia. They took the sacred parts, i.e. monotheism, angels, etc. from Zoroastrianism, of which the king was a huge devotee, and mixed them with existing Palestinian folk religions. That is how the Torah was invented. Until 536, All Judeans and Samaritans worship from the ancient pantheon of Semitic gods ranging from Dagan and Astarte down through Ya(weh) and El(ohim), who were for centuries merely minor gods in that pantheon. This is known information, not speculation and goes back to the discovery of the Royal Library at Ebla. All of Judaism is a sham and it is clear the at least the original writers of it knew this, too. It is probable that there have always been leaders of Judaism who have known it is a sham too. To me, it is dear, at least, why Jews don't value Christianity as anything beyond a means to elevate themselves above others. Christianity is founded on Judaism. If Judaism is a fake religion, then it follows, unremarkably, so is Christianity...after all, you don't build a solid building on sand, do you?

      May 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • yote

      You cannot even spell and yet you call others "idiot".

      May 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • M

      you are sadly mis-informed

      May 9, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • WHAT?!?!

      After reading your entire post, I reread the first line and realized you lied about atleast one of your two claims. Therefore, your entire post is not to be trusted. Peddle your B.S. elsewhere!

      May 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Chris in Toledo

      This was almost funny.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • kdog

      All religions are just cults with a different number of followers. Some more crazy (and dangerous) than others.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • scarpachi

      Sooooo.....all religions are misguided but your own? Your post is so hypocritical from start to finish it must be an attempt at a clever little game. That or you are just a bigoted hypocrite.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  18. mary

    I would love to read that whole "newspaper" and see what else they write about! Religion is so scary! MARY~

    May 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  19. Andulamb

    It should also be noted that CNN and other media outlets have themselves cut Audrey Tomason out of their headlines, referring only to Clinton's removal from the photo. Does this mean that if only unknown women had been removed that no one would care? I suppose so, since apparently Di Tzeitung has been blurring or removing women from their photos for some time, and this is the first we've heard of it. I guess you excised the wrong woman this time, Di Tzeitung.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • George

      Let's see, the article says "Scrubbed from the picture: the two women in the room. It’s as if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with her hand clasped over her mouth, and Audrey Tomason"

      Can you even read?

      May 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

    And they say Muslims suppress women, truth is Islam provides women with rights that they did not have prior to Islam's arrival. Take a good hard look at other religions before you start judging Islam.

    May 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • vasechek

      like the right to a fair flogging, the right to a speedy stoning, the right to equal employment as a homicide bomber, the right to willfully undergo "enhancement" procedures to remove the temptations of unholy behavior...

      May 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Bob

      Only Islam fails to educate women, stones them, pours acid on them, and kills them when they are no longer wanted. Learn a little more before posting pointless tripe.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Glorifundel

      I have, most religions are garbage and promote magical thinking. Certain religions are significantly worse than others.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • dave

      ... right....

      May 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • vasechek

      all religions are equal, but some are more equal than others

      May 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • noodlez

      No Islam still degrades women more than any other faith. So no, we'll still judge Islam. Sorry, but just because Apples exist, doesn't mean oranges no longer do.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Neil

      @Bob: i believe i know where you were going with your statement... however, the way it is written, Islam isn't a monster at all – and FAILS to do any of the things you mention to the women. – using the commas after the first item of fails to educate... remove the word educate, and what do you have? fails to stone them. etc etc..

      May 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • mycatsbreathsmellslikecatfood

      They also cut out the woman in the back row too...

      May 9, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • DC-JD

      I judge ALL religion...why did women have to 'wait' until the arrival of Islam to have the 'rights' they were supposedly given. And Christianity does no better. Fact is, ALL of the Abrahamic religions have made a practice or marginalizing women–or completely subjugating them.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • kdog

      vasechek said:

      "all religions are equal, but some are more equal than others"

      I agree, all equally false. Their only purpose is to control the weak minded.

      May 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • vasechek

      hmm, i like being quoted. i should start my own religion!

      May 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.