Boteach, a well-known author and Orthodox spiritual leader, told the Free Beacon that a recent article in the Forward newspaper, which raised questions about disbursements made by his charity, amounted to “defamation.”
Lawyers representing the rabbi have sent the newspaper a letter decrying what they claim is its defamatory and false coverage, the Free Beacon has learned, marking the first signs of a possible lawsuit.
The Forward’s biased reporting on Boteach comports with a longstanding practice of antagonizing and mischaracterizing all those who do not toe the liberal line, media operatives and Jewish insiders allege.
Forward writer Josh Nathan-Kazis broadly speculates about a “future conflict between the group’s role supporting Boteach’s work and Boteach’s political campaign” in his article on Boteach’s charity, This World: The Jewish Values Network.
The writer further insinuates that Boteach and his charity could run into legal problems as his congressional campaign in New Jersey unfolds.
Boteach maintains the accusations of impropriety are flatly untrue.
Criticizing Nathan-Kazis as grossly uninformed, Boteach added that the Forward is “not a publication I respect.”
A letter sent to the Forward by New York attorney Robert Wolf accuses the paper of publishing a “materially false” article intended to sabotage the rabbi’s nascent political career.
“The article was materially false or misleading in that it suggested some sort of impropriety in connection with Rabbi Boteach’s compensation,” the letter states. “The JVN believes that the article … was not fair or impartial, but, through innuendo, questionable reporting, and juxtaposition of quotation, misreported and intentionally sought to damage the reputations of JVN and Rabbi Boteach.”
Nathan-Kazis alleges in the article that the charity “spends a significant portion of its revenues on payments to Boteach and his family,” while downplaying the fact that Boteach and his family perform the majority of the work to maintain the organization.
“The fact that neither Rabbi Boteach nor any member of his family is on the board is reflected in JVN’s public filings, but is nowhere mentioned in your article,” the legal letter states.
Boteach is the charity’s principal player, shouldering the bulk of its duties, yet the Forward insinuates that the rabbi is paid an excessive sum.
“Rabbi Boteach’s invaluable assistance and hard work in all of these areas are the primary means by which the JVN promotes its mission, and a communication from the board to your reporter, prior to the March 2 article, reflected these facts,” the legal correspondence states. “Accordingly, the ‘smoking gun’ revelation that his compensation constituted a proportionately high percentage of the organization’s overall expenses is, quite simply, baseless and no revelation at all.”
Because JVN employees sign a non-disclosure clause, conversations with the paper could merit a breach of contract. Consequently, the paper could “be held liable for damages and other relief to the fullest extent permitted by the law,” the letter states.
“The Forward has a clear obligation to address the foregoing matters objectively and fairly, and not in the type of partisan manner that could jeopardize the Forward’s own tax-exempt status,” it states.
The Forward is then instructed by Boteach’s lawyer to immediately cease its destructive and “highly libelous” reporting.
Forward editor Jane Eisner did not respond to a request for comment.
Eisner claims that the article about JVN was the result of a meeting she held with her own tax attorneys, according to a private e-mail obtained by the Free Beacon.
“I asked [reporter] Josh to look into the question of your charity’s 501(c)(3) status after a two-hour session with our tax attorneys on Monday, in which they advised us about our own roles in covering elections, since the Forward is also a 501(c)(3),” Eisner wrote to one of Boteach’s associates. “That explains the line of questioning. Nothing else.”
This is not the first time the Forward has published articles that are highly critical of right-of-center figures.
Jewish media insiders maintain that, while the Jewish paper has historically tilted left, Eisner—who became editor in 2008—has turned the Forward into a reliable liberal attack dog.