So I was reading this post over on Jezebel this morning about Orthodox Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung editing the images of Hillary Clinton and counter-terrorism expert Audrey Thomason out of the photo of the Osama bin Laden raid Situation Room. Why? Because the paper doesn’t publish photos of women, of course. Pictures of women, apparently, are considered “sexually suggestive.”
The Photoshopping of history to remove women from the room is reprehensible, Hasidic Jewish paper or not, but it’s the comments section of the post that’s most interesting, as discussion quickly turns from a discussion on whether the paper was wrong to edit out the presence of two women to begin with to a heated debate on whether the very act of criticizing a Hasidic paper for acting according to Hasidic law amounts to anti-Semitism.
Years ago when I was working for Kodak, the company acquired a photo imaging company based in Israel, and our group had to adjust to working with a corporate culture imbued with ideas about gender relations with which most of us — including Jewish team members — were completely unfamiliar. The guys from Israel wouldn’t speak to or acknowledge women in meetings — even women who were high-ranking executives.
It was befuddling and more than a little infuriating to many of us on the team to be expected to respect and accommodate a “cultural difference” that completely devalued the female members of our team. I flat out told my boss I wouldn’t manage any project in which I was expected to work with men who refused to speak to me or acknowledge my existence, and I’d do the same today. Apart from the impracticality of being able to successfully manage a project when you have people on the team who won’t accept that you are in charge of things and work with you in that capacity simply because you have a vagina instead of a penis, I personally was just not willing to put myself in a situation of having to work in those conditions.
What do you think? Was the Jezebel poster anti-Semitic in calling out a Hasidic paper for photo-shopping the women out of the situation room? Or is the commenter who lambasted her way off base?