Hillary Clinton "too sexy" for Hasidic newspaper

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011.
Courtesy of the White House

Der Tzitung's photoshopped version of the image. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and counterterrorism analyst Audrey Thomason have been removed.

Brooklyn-based, 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 (right). 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.

But perhaps the biggest violation this incident represents is to women and men everywhere. It is the denial of feminism - the denial that women have a place beside men in the "Situation Rooms" of our government, our communities, and our own lives. It is also an insult to men, suggesting that they are nothing more than anamalistic sex machines unable to concentrate if a woman is present. It's also represents the denial of the GLBT community by suggesting that all men desire women, and vice versa.

Basically, it's an insult to everybody. 

I am in shock that a Jewish newspaper would falsify the record of history in order to continue living in a make-believe world without feminism. This is, in no uncertain terms, "bad for the Jews." For shame.


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The newspaper actually mentioned Clinton by name in the article. They aren't trying to claim Clinton wasn't there or wasn't involved. The issue really is, just about modesty. The ultra orthodox believe in going above and beyond to avoid even the possibility of sin. Are they taking modesty to the extreme? Yes, but that's why they are "Ultra".

I would also like to point out that Rabbi Miller is a progressive rabbi, not an ultra orthodox rabbi or even modern orthodox. Obviously his opinion will differ than those on the extreme right. I don't think his assessment was correct either. The paper acknowledges Clinton and the readers are aware that even when females are present at an event, their image can't be published.

Then either don't run the photo or, if you must photo-shop them out, issue a disclaimer stating that Hillary Clinton and another woman were there, but were edited out for religious reasons. If it really is a question of modesty, then there are ways you can do that while still respecting the women who were there.

But they didn't do that, did they? They just photo-shopped Hillary out without any further discussion. And in doing so, they sent the message that there were no women present to advise the President at that critical hour.

And that's A LIE. it's not that they have different religious beliefs, it's that THEY LIED. They chose to pretend that there were no women present at all, and that is why this is misogynist and denigrative. And may I remind you, the rules about modesty were made by rabbis, but the law about not bearing false witness against thy neighbor is set in stone.

Elana - Ultra-orthodox communities believe that influence from secular society negatively impacts their religion, so they naturally are insular. They also believe that there are strict laws that forbid men and women from having much to do with each other (except in extenuating circumstances). If you live your entire life as a boy having nothing to do with women (besides for family members), it's not such a stretch to say that every picture of a female can be suggestive, and religiously inappropriate. You might fail to understand this because you were brought up differently, and that is understandable. But it's understandable that they don't publish pictures of women. And the fact that Mrs. Clinton is dressed modestly is irrelevant, since the paper has strict rules to protect slippery slopes from occurring. Joan - What you don't get is the ultra-orthodox societies have nothing against women. They enjoy the benefits of women work even within their community (the publishers of several ultra-orthodox publications - including one well-known one that doesn't publish images of women - is a woman). They just wish to shelter their members, which you may argue is bad, but they will argue is good.

The author has this outrage just right. I'd add just one more thing. It is especially outrageous that this happened in the USA. I wish we had the technology so that they could receive no service that involves a woman, no mater how indirectly. Call 911. call blocked to protect them from possibility of getting female operator. Get on Metro. no way: female ticket sellers, senior management. Enter hospital: forget it..place is full of female staff. They not only lie about history but are also hypocrites!

Leah -- I think the biggest violation is the basic premise that a woman shouldn't be seen, period. Your comment that she was wearing long sleeves assumes that had she been wearing short sleeves their photoshopping may have been understandable. But it wouldn't have been. This is an act based on an idea that women should be completely invisible at all times, that men should be free to walk this planet without ever having to encounter an image of a woman (note the assumption as well that only men will be reading the newspaper). This is not an erasure of Hillary Clinton -- it's an erasure of women. B'vracha, Elana

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How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Hillary Clinton "too sexy" for Hasidic newspaper." 9 May 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 18, 2024) <http://jwa.org/blog/hillary-clinton-too-sexy-for-hasidic-newspaper>.