Monday, December 1, 2008

*New Version of Post* Like Being Kicked In The Kishkes!

This post was re-written due to letters I received from Robert Katz. It begins the same, but my conclusion is totally different. I hope that you'll read through it to the end. Thank you

I didn't expect this.

A couple of minutes ago, after dinner and after washing the dishes, I returned to the computer to read the news. My husband had left the Ha'aretz English newspaper on the screen. And no, in this case Ha'aretz isn't the guilty party. I saw that there was an article saying that Rebbitzin Rivka Holtzberg, HaYa"D's parents are thinking of taking up their dead daughter's post in Mumbai.

Apparently the information was given by Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman's fundraiser, Robert Katz. Rabbi Grossman was Rivka Holtzberg's uncle and he is the founder of the Migdal Ohr in Migdal Haemek.

Katz then said: "This couple wasn't living in the West Bank. They weren't settlers. They weren't occupying anyone's land. They were killed because they were Jews, simple and plain." (emphasis mine)

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Yes, I felt sick when I read that, and I don't have to pretend otherwise.
Thirteen years ago, I survived an Arab terror attack with light injuries. Our Shiloh Cemetery has many victims of Arab terror attacks, mostly teenagers.
Terror attacks are a very sensitive subject with me.
Robert Katz emailed me explaining that he hadn't meant what he said. He was being "sarcastic."
Obviously, he had never read my instructions for dealing with the media. Sarcasm is the big "no, no." My lawyer daughter says that she learned a lot from the movie, "My Cousin Vinnie," which is about the importance of punctuation and avoiding sarcasm.
I wish Mr. Katz the best of luck and apologize for writing badly of him.

19 comments:

Risa Tzohar said...

Oy, I can't believe someone, a Jew, and a believing one, said something like that. One can only say that we should not judge words said in anger. Still it is hard, very hard to take!

Anonymous said...

I think it would be more productive if you respectfully approached Katz and asked him to clarify. You may learn something. With all due respect to your righteous indignation, going to the source would probably be a better course of action.

YMedad said...

Glad I'm, if inadvertently, useful

YMedad said...

But if you want to go after him, see this:

Robert Katz has ten years of experience creating fundraising strategy for causes related to Israel and Jewish education and twenty years of marketing, managing, creating and implementing various tools to benefit those causes. After graduating from Yeshiva University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, he received his Masters of Business Administration in marketing from Baruch College. From there he went on to lend his talents to several prominent Jewish organizations such as Bar Ilan University, Ohr Torah Stone and Hillel before being hired by Rabbi Grossman in July of 2006 as the Executive Vice President of the American Friends of Migdal Ohr. Born in Brooklyn, Robert now lives in New Milford, NJ with his wife and 2 sons.

He serves on the Boards of Hillels of Northern New Jersey, and the Torah Academy of Bergen County, and is a trustee of the Maks and Lea Rothstein Charitable Youth Trust.

In his previous life, Robert worked at both NBC and CBS in their radio sports-casting departments, but gave up his career out of deference to Shabbos.

SuperRaizy said...

I was also very surprised when I read that comment on Haaretz. What was he thinking?!?

Batya said...

Risa, Wink, Raizy,
Thanks for your agreement on this.

a, When "kicked in the kishkes," it's hard to take your calm approach.

To all of you, Mr. Katz has emailed me, and when the time is right, I'll let you know what's going on. One important thing, he didn't mean for his words to come out like that.

Unknown said...

Batya: you are not the only one to interpret Mr. Katz's remarks thus -- an angry email was distributed on my yishuv's chat list (yes, also over the green line) paralleling the sentiment of your post....

Respectfully, though, I'd like to share what I hope Mr. Katz meant to convey: due to the facts that that Holtzbergs (zt"l) were not in Israel at the time of their murder, that they were engaged in the profession of providing hospitality to weary travelers, that we must see their brutal murders for what they are: the violently intolerant antisemitism of fundamentalist Islam. נקודה (Nekuda).

While I think that the way he chose to express himself was a bit... er... unfortunate... it does seem as though he was attempting to dissect the usual rhetoric and emphatically point to the fact that it makes no difference on what/whose soil Jews are killed if the reason we are being targeted is simply that we are Jewish.

I look forward to your sharing Mr. Katz's response with us....

Anonymous said...

That's what I meant. Perhaps wait for the kishke-pain to subside a bit before posting next time?

Batya said...

Before this guesswork goes too far, Katz meant to be "sarcastic." If any of you have ever heard my Two most important rules in dealing with the press or any "hasbara," information effort. The first is...

1- Never use sarcasm, since the words come out totally "pshat," straight, and some people have trouble reading/understanding jokes. And some things just aren't funny.

zahava, He admits that he said the words, and he made no excuse like your drash. Please don't project your feelings on other people's words. That's the danger.

a, There's nothing wrong in saying "ouch!"

Unknown said...

I no more projected my feelings on the words of others than you yourself did....

Mr. Katz's words in no way intimated that the murder of settlers is acceptable.

When I first read those very same words, my first reaction was "oy vey! why oh! why?! is he bringing us into this?! My first reaction, however, rather than publicly bashing this man during a time of international mourning, was to reread his words and see if a touch of dan l'chaf zchus might provide a plausible alternate meaning.

When I see people who are supposed to be on the same side go head-to-head over semantics and perceived wrongs... well... that's when I feel kicked in the kishkes....

Don't you think we Jews could use, oh, I don't know... just a little achdut right about now?!

YMedad said...

I invite you to read my post on the subject

Batya said...

Zahava, I wish I had a way of reaching you. I don't know who you are. You are mixing up what your neighbors wrote with my post. Please read my post very carefully. Especially concentrate on the "bold."

Please, I did not write about murders; I wrote about our Land.

Unknown said...

I am Mrs. Treppenwitz -- and can be reached through David (I am uncomfortable with posting my email address publicly as it usually results in a ton of spam).

I did read (and reread) your post, and I am not mixing up what my neighbors wrote.

To quote you (italics added by me for differentiation) He thinks it's acceptable for people like me to be murdered by terrorists.

This statement is the one to which I referred when I said Mr. Katz's words in no way intimated that the murder of settlers is acceptable.

Batya, I mean you no disrespect, nor am I writing in anger -- I do think, however, that there is a need for balance when discussing the statement(s) which made you so angry.

As I was careful to point out in my initial response, you were not alone in the conclusions to which you jumped about the intentions behind these words.

My purpose in each response is not to pick a fight with you. Rather, I am trying to point out that there is (at least in this case) another (and reasonable) manner in which to understand Mr. Katz's words.

For years, we on the right have been screaming that the matzav isn't about land or occupation -- it is about us simply living.

And here, we have someone actually agreeing with us (albeit in an awkward and easily misinterpreted manner) and now he is under attack.

You are quite right to remind everyone that when dealing with the media, using sarcasm is akin to playing with fire.

But even if Mr. Katz didn't mean what I thought he did, why is my interpretation so offensive to you?

I am not arguing over our right to be here. I agree with you. I simply don't think that Mr. Katz's statements were designed to further demonize us settlers.

Batya said...

Zahava, sorry, you're right.

Now for something very "amusing." I've been corresponding with Mr. Katz since this morning, and he's not as upset with me as you are.

Let's call a truce.

Unknown said...

Deal. :-)

ari kahn said...

I spoke to Robert about this, Batya - you have misunderstood him. It was indeed said in sarcasm. His intention was to point out that the issue is not Yehudah V’ Shomron. He wanted to say – look we have caught radical Islam (once again) in a lie. These people didn’t live in contentious areas, and still the result is innocent blood being spilled. He did not intend to say or imply that it is ok to kill people over the green line. By the way Robert has spent Shabbat in my house over the “Green line”.
His words were may have been ill advised, but he is indeed on the right side of this issue. Your post may depict how you feel, but it does not indicate how he feels, or how Rav Grossman feels.

Batya said...

Ari, thanks, he wrote to me about it. Just another example of why there's no place for sarcasm in hasbara/pr.

Anonymous said...

Knowing Robert Katz, his dedication to Israel and the Jewish people,it is clear to me that he meant to point out the hypocrisy of those who claim that terrorism is really a movement of freedom fighters. It is unfortunate that on a day of sadness that should lead to a feeling of solidarity and caring, we should be discussing what is obviously a statement made at a time of emotional upheaval.
I certainly don't know why the comment, even if ill advised, should reflect on Rav Grossman.

Chaim Tabasky

Batya said...

Chaim, thanks for the input.
I heard from Robert Katz, and he didn't give the reason you so eloquently did.

I am now going to change the post due to his apology to me. I sincerely hope that he will send me an apology to post as a separate message on the blog.

As you probably remember, I've experienced Arab terror, and his statement was in very poor taste. I accept that my interpretation was not his meaning of his words.