On the heels of America’s most-wanted terrorist being eliminated in Pakistan by U.S. Special Forces, the woman who was once dubbed by the media as “Osama Bin Laden’s Worst Nightmare” made a statement that I found haunting. Islamic reformer Irshad Manji made the scary point in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that President Obama was wrong in saying that “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader.” What should be keeping us up at night, according to Manji, is the fact that he actually was a legitimate Muslim leader in the eyes of many.
“Bin Laden and his followers represent a real interpretation of Islam that begs to be challenged relentlessly and visibly,” she wrote in the op-ed, which was excerpted from her soon-to-be-published new book, “Allah, Liberty and Love” (Free Press).
So what does this have to do with Jews? It has to do with us because Manji and other reformers have reached out to liberal Jews and Christians in search of allies in this challenge. Although she sees this ijtihad (a religious-intellectual struggle fueled by independent thought) as primarily the responsibility of Muslims, she calls on us to support and partner with those brave Muslims willing to engage in it.
The ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish newspaper Der Tzitung has decided to rewrite history by photoshopping Hillary Clinton out of the photo of U.S. leaders receiving an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden. Why? Because the idea of a woman in the Situation Room was “too scandalous.”
Apparently Der Tzitung’s policy is to never publish a photo of a woman because it could be taken as “suggestive.” So is this image of Hillary Clinton in long sleeves and a high neckline suggestive? Or, as Rabbi Jason Miller wrote in The Jewish Week, “Perhaps they just don’t like the idea of a woman with that much political power.” Jezebel points out that Audrey Thomason, the counterterrorism analyst way in the back, was also photoshopped out of Der Tzitung’s version of the image.
This “photoshop of horrors” is wrong on so many levels. First and foremost, it’s untruthful and goes against every principle of journalism, which is not only about being “fair and balanced,” but about being accurate. Rabbi Jason Miller explains that it is also a violation of the Jewish legal principle of g’neivat da’at, or deceit. Additionally, it violates the White House’s copyright permissions which explicitly state “The photograph may not be manipulated in any way” in the caption on Flickr.