Sunday, December 1, 2013

When The Jewish Community Got Engaged And Delivered The Votes

The following is my debut monthly Jewish political update in the JCC of Marine Park's - The Jewish Echo magazine:

Voters in New York City expressed their desire for change, after 20 years of Republican control, in an unequivocal voice - by granting Bill de Blasio a 49 point victory over his Republican opponent, on November 5th, 2013.

For the Jewish community in New York, the largest gathering of Jews outside Israel, this election cycle meant a revival of power of an electorate that was often ignored by City Hall.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wolf Sender Accuses Me Of Spreading KKK Racism - UPDATED

In response to my storify (http://sfy.co/iNzJ), compiling tweets from Orthodox Jewish voters who reacted to Bill Thompson's racially tinted tweet, one of Assemblyman Dov Hikind's most closest confidants accused me of KKK racism.

Wolf Sender, Community Board 12 district manager, sent the following text message to a hand-selected amount of Jewish operatives: "Kornbluh's article about Thompson's statement is painting jews as KKK racists."

Recently, Mr. Sender referred to me as "cancer to the Jewish community."

Ironically, Mr. Sender found Mr. Hikind dressing up, on Purim 2013, as 'Blackface' as acceptable. Nonetheless, slams honest reporting as spreading hate, endangering the Jewish community.

In 1999, Mr. Sender, serving as an assistant commissioner in the Giuliani administration, was fired for covering up on Dov Hikind. Sender's job was axed in an effort to streamline his agency, Giuliani spokeswoman Roche said at the time.

In 2007, Mr. Sender and Assemblyman Dov Hikind were sharply criticized over the use of a religious charity run by a convicted tax evader to fund a campaign to get Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, to resign.

Via the Jewish Week:

"Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind raised some $40,000 to run full-page ads in Jewish newspapers last month calling on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to quit and urging supporters to back his cause by writing tax-deductible checks to a charity called Yad Moshe. Both pre- and post-ad contributions were channeled through Yad Moshe.

"The ads, however, instructed donors to mail the checks to an address that was not the charity’s but the headquarters of Hikind’s campaign finance committee, Friends of Dov Hikind.

"The committee’s headquarters is also the Brooklyn residence of Wolf Sender, a longtime Hikind political associate. Last July, Friends of Dov Hikind gave $2,000 to Yad Moshe.

"Sender declined to answer questions about the arrangement. But Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, the head of Yad Moshe, said they used Sender’s address merely as a mail drop to “segregate” the funds meant for the anti-Olmert campaign. Hikind and Rabbi Tannenbaum defended their use of the charity to solicit tax-deductible contributions, arguing that their cause was not political but moral and nonpartisan.

“The ads were not supporting any candidate from a political point of view,” said Hikind. “Who do I prefer [to replace Olmert]? I have no clue. The message was that this is a man who endangers Israel.”

"The Internal Revenue Service prohibits the use of charity money for partisan political purposes—including abroad—and bars donors from taking deductions on contributions made to such causes. Hikind’s use of a religious charity to channel funds connected to his ad were first noted on The Politicker, a blog published by The New York Observer, and followed up on YudelLine, a Web site authored by Larry Yudelson, a former reporter for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency."


In 2011, Wolf Sender was accused for reportedly telling the NYC's Industrial Development Agency that Community Board 12 backed $2 million in tax breaks for Moisha's Kosher Supermarket even though Sender never brought the issue before the board.

UPDATE: Shimon Gifter claims he spoke to Mr. Sender who denied writing the above text message. "Just In: Jacob Kornbluh statement accusing Sender Wolf of writing things about him yesterday was an outright lie. Mr. Wolf never wrote it," Gifter (@nycphotog) tweeted.

I asked Gifter whether he spoke directly to Mr. Sender. "The answer is yes to your question. He says he rarely even uses text and is not on facebook and all these things," Gifter wrote back to me. "To my knowledge he is not and he's not the type to ever write things or be interviewed. ."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Quiz Of The Day: Who is Dov Gordon? The Other Half Of The Story

For nearly two and a half years, a Yeshiva World News blogger who goes by the name of Dov Gordon appears to have been one of New York City Councilman David Greenfield’s biggest fans in the local Jewish media. Now, some unidentified sources and a disgruntled former staffer claim that behind at least some of Gordon’s columns is Greenfield himself, writes City and State’s Nick Powell.

Interestingly enough, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has never made his rifts with Greenfield public since the last election season, used the opportunity given to link the councilman’s ties with YWN, calling Yeshiva World’s coverage of him “mean-spirited” and “degrading.” In an interview with City & State, Hikind acknowledged that he had wondered whether Dov Gordon was one person or several people adopting the pseudonym, and that he had noticed a bias in Gordon’s coverage.

“You can criticize me—that’s not the issue, we can all be criticized at times,” Hikind said. “This is way beyond that … this is someone with an agenda. … One of the most interesting things is, there’s one person who’s always very popular with Dov Gordon: David Greenfield.” The Jewish Press, who covers Hikind on a regular basis as a rightwing pro-settler politician was the only Jewish Media outlet to write that Hikind joined the bloggers' accusation of Mr. Greenfield as a phone blogger.

So who is Dov Gordon? And why is Greenfield being raised as the ultimate suspect? The other half of the story.

Looking over @DovGordonYWN's Twitter timeline, it's clear that he is somewhat obsessed with Councilman David Greenfield. However to claim that a council member that has a nice followership on Twitter, that has a good relationship with the media, should hide behind a name that has 117 followers is just absurd. Why would somebody looking for fame tweet at himself, reply and retweet about himself, if he has his own microphone and base of support?  If Mr. Greenfield would've really been obsessed with himself, he could at any time given release a press release, call a press conference or go on to the radio, to tout his achievements.

To suggest that Greenfield or one of his associates write propaganda pieces for him under a pen name, maybe. That's a legit question. But also a legit act. Hence, raising the level of his involvement, using it as a tool to bash his opponents, is somehow unconvincing. Gatemouth has an extensive and persuasive piece questioning of David Greenfield/Dov Gordon's speculation.

A brief search on Google, brought up an article written recently by Ross Barkan over the council redistricting , in which THE Dov Gordon, who identifies himself as a spokesperson for a group called 'Save Flatbush' bashed councilman David Greenfield for opposing the proposal. Obviously, this YWN's Dov Gordon is a Flatbush activist who was a fan of Greenfield. Since Greenfield opposed the council redistricting proposal, that would benefit Chaim Deutsch, Mr. Gordon stopped his obsessive stalking of his favorite councilmember David Greenfield, in favor of promoting Mr. Deutsch's candidacy. 

But to get in deeper behind the scenes of the City and State investigative report.

It is no secret to whomever that monitors the Orthodox Media, that there's a proxy war going on between The Yeshiva World (YWN) and Vos Iz Neias (VIN) in an attempt to gain credibility. What is less known, is that some of Assemblyman Dov Hikind's employees work/ed and write on a daily basis at VIN news.

Allison Witty, who was until Feb. 2013 when she was hired to serve as Senator Simcha Felder's communications director, was a daily writer for VIN and an employee at Dov Hikind's district office.  A brief search on google found Sandy Eller, a frequent writer and interviewer on behalf of the site, and Ms. Witty covering Mr. Hikind in a very positive manner, conducting interviews with the Assemblyman and people of his interest on almost every issue of the day.

Interestingly enough, Witty's last email as Mr. Hikind's press secretary was on Jan. 24, 2013, and her last article on VIN was published on Jan. 25, 2013. Props to my State Senator Simcha Felder, whom I stopped criticizing since elected, had the decency to stop her from writing on VIN, while working on State payroll.  

Other than having a Hikind ad on the VIN website over the last few years, Blogger Failed Messiah claims, based on his resources, that Hikind is one of VIN's owners. According to sources known with the facts, Assemblyman Dov Hikind had a dispute with The Yeshiva World at a rabbinical court around two years ago. Which raises the suspicion on Mr. Hikind playing a dominant role on VIN.

VIN was also very critical of Mr. Greenfield during the 2010 special council election.

It's also interesting to note that Vos Iz Neias was banned by Rabbinical figures, two years ago. On Dec. 22, a kol koreh (public announcement) written in Hebrew, and  signed by 36 prominent charedie rabbinical figures, was posted in Williamsburg and Borough Park forbidding advertisers and Internet users from visiting the site.

“A site exists on the Internet known as ‘Vos Iz Neias,’ as if it were founded only to spread news of the Jewish world,” the letter stated. “Yet it contains a hidden ambush — in the news, it includes stories and events of the corrupt, abominable and lowly. It is full of tumah (impurity), filth, foul language; lashon hora (slander), gossip and embarrassments of Torah scholars; it also brings forth libel and slander regarding individuals and organizations dedicated to Torah ... It also writes against officers and politicians under whose favor we live, to ruin their reputation; the disgrace of G-d’s name is terrible and mighty.”

Examining the VIN site, I couldnt come across a single piece that slams or writes agaisnt Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

Now, consider this: Dov Hikind never took off his ads from the site, despite the ban by some of the renowned rabbis such as: R. Yaakov Perlow, Novominsker Rebbe• R. Shmuel Kamenetsky, Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia Yeshiva• R. Malkiel Kotler, Rosh Yeshiva of Lakewood• R. Aharon Schechter, Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin• R. Matisyahu Solomon, Mashgiach of Lakewood and others. The only reason Mr. Hikind was ready to take on the big guns - rabbis from both the Hasidic and lithuanian community - is because he has his own interest in that website

The reason given behind the ban was as stated: "We are pained the the owner of this website operates in the darkness, and violates “Cursed is he who strikes his friend secretly”; we are pained that we don’t know who this individual is that we could warn him, push him away, or chase him to decimation; as our holy Torah deems appropriate for those who cause the public to fall to sin; it is obvious that the obligation rests on anyone who knows to come to a rabbinic court and make this known, just as the Torah states, “should he not testify, he shall bear his terrible sin.”

Hidden at the very end of the City and State article on Greenfield the editor's note reads: "Before becoming City & State‘s editor-in-chief in 2012, Morgan Pehme worked on the campaign of Joe Lazar, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council against David Greenfield in 2010. Because of this past connection, Pehme recused himself from this story." That proclamation doesn't deny the fact that the editor had some role in at least letting the reporter go ahead with the report and publish the article  following a relatively few weeks of unidentified bloggers and anonymous tweeps piling on Greenfield. 

More so, in Nick Powell's piece he quotes Pete Appel, a blogger who runs the news blog Perpetual Voices, as a credible source in signifying his argument. Not mentioning that the so called Blogger 'Pete Appel' is a non-existent figure. As a matter of fact, I was 'Pete Appel's first target during the month of September, when I managed the No Simcha blog opposing Mr. Felder's candidacy for Senate. Tweep @CordwainerBird links to all the blog posts of Perpetual voices, as he/she occasionally takes on Moshe Friedman, David Greenfield and I.

Apparently, based on the information I gathered from my sources, Pete Appel is non other than another former female staffer at Dov Hikind's district office, and a current government employee (her name is withheld out of respect to her husband, who's a famous askan at a local institute), who also helped out Simcha Felder during his senatorial campaign. 

Which raises the question why City and State quoted a non-existent blogger, who's obsessed with Hikind and disgruntled at Greenfield, as a source in an article that he's investigating the man behind another non-existent figure, suggesting with confidence that it might be Councilman Greenfield.

"The fact that Dov [Hikind] would choose to go so low as to criticize another elected official without any credible proof that Mr. Greenfield is a writer at YWN, gives you a good understanding as to why the person. whoever it might be, would choose to write about inside politics under a pen name - Dov Gordon, and not under his real name" said a Media insider.

Early this morning, the story continued to make the rounds, suggesting this might be a planned anti-Greenfield campaign. In an email circulated and obtained by us, a newly formed committee condemned Mr. Greenfield for shamelessly attacking leaders in the community for his own political benefit.
From: Vaad Haemes (vaad.ha.emes@gmail.com)
Date: Thu, 2 May 2013 12:33:32 -0400
To: Vaad Haemes (vaad.ha.emes@gmail.com)
Subject: How Councilman David Greenfield has disgraced us! 
 When malicious attacks upon Mosdos and frum Yidden come from the goyishe velt, it’s painful. But when these attacks come from within, we must hang our heads in shame.Our rabbonim warn against the Internet because of the shmutz it exposes innocent eyes to, chas v’sholom, but the last place we expect to see shmutz is on a Jewish website claiming to represent the Hareidi community. How painful it has been to see a columnist “Dov Gordon” on the YeshivaWorldNews website regularly beshmutzing The Agudah, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Senator Simcha Felder, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, Chaim Deutsch of Flatbush Shomrim and other members of our community. Many rabbonim have privately warned the YeshivaWorldNews against loshon hara—how much worse is motzi shem ra!But the real shock and shame came when the respected and widely read government publication City & State as well as The Jewish Press revealed that: The real culprit behind all this evil speech is Councilman David Greenfield. 
The publication City & State brings undeniable proof that David Greenfield is columnist Dov Gordon and has been all along. David Greenfield has manipulated the readers of YeshivaWorldNews for his own purposes and shamelessly attacked good Jews who work for our community, as well as non-Jewish elected officials who help us, all for his own benefit.This revelation will cost Greenfield a complete loss of trust among his fellow elected officials who now see this man who dresses like a Hareidi Jew lying to everyone including his own community.This report has brought shame on us. Is this the type of person who should represent our community and our values? What chillul Hashem!
If you notice, in the email above, Chaim Deutch's name is mentioned as one of Greenfield's targets, as to why  mr. Greenfield should be called out for. Subconsciously, a picture of Chaim Deutsch standing next to Councilman greenfield appears in Perpetual Voices' first published video.

All the information above leads to a simple conclusion: This is a dirty proxy war that will not go away easily, as long as its driven by ambiguous tipsters and anonymous tweeps.

According to an Insider in the community, who asked to remain anonymous, Mr. Hikind has never recovered politically from the blackface controversy. "Mr. Hikind never managed to fix the damage done following the purim costume story, not among his colleagues, nor in the community he represents for 32 years," said the insider. "This is clearly an act of revenge on behalf of Hikind." 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rabbi Shmuley Fails To Defend My Critics of The Republican Jewish Coalition

This morning on Talkline communications - A Saturday night Jewish Radio program hosted by Zev Brenner -  I had the honor to debate non other than Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

Rabbi Shmuley, initially called in to respond to my criticism of the Republican Jewish Coalition as an organization that has failed the Jewish community, and for their misconduct in convening a leadership convention last week Shabbos. But other than defending the RJC, Rabbi Shmuley diverted the debate into a personal attack on me, accusing me of unethical violations for reporting out of a closed meeting with Netanyahu's advisor last week.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

GOP Conference Hosts Roundtable With Jewish Leaders

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Republican Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives, hosted, last week, a roundtable for Jewish leaders, bringing together Jewish Republican, Conservative, Reform, Liberal and Democrat figures, for a rare unprecedented  dialogue. According to JTA, RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks, Sarah Stern, founder of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, Rabbi David Saperstein and Jack Moline were in attendance.

Monday, April 22, 2013

VIN Follows Press Release Lead In Leaving Out Speaker Quinn's Role From Child Care Credit Legistlation

Hypocrisy at large? Yesterday Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Senator Simcha Felder announced legislation that will expand the child care tax credit to middle-class families earning up to $170,000. The Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit will expand the credit that is currently only offered to families who make $25,000 or less.

The Photo that was never published (credit: Ezra Friedlander)
 “We must rein in the skyrocketing cost of child care and make it affordable for all New Yorkers,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The Middle-Class Child Care Tax Credit will ease the cost of childcare in New York City— the highest in the nation— and will provide expanded assistance to low-income and middle-class parents with young children, and I thank Senator Felder and Assembly Member Farrell for sponsoring this important legislation.” 

“That’s real money in the pockets of New Yorkers at a time when, more than ever, every penny counts,” said state Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), who is sponsoring the bill in Albany. The expanded tax credit will cost an estimated $62 million in public money, the New York Post reports.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Arab Americans And Brooklynites Condemn Boston Terror And Praise America's Greatness At Candlelight Vigil

A few dozen Arab Americans along with members of the Russian community gathered together for a candlelight vigil, Sunday evening at Caeser's Bay, to honor the victims of the Boston marathon explosions. Congressman Michael Grimm, Senator David Storobin, Abdo Almasmary, President of the Yemeni American Association of Bay Ridge, and Shaykh Abdulwahab Ziad from Michigan addressed the crowd assembled in delivering a message for peace and unity, honoring the American flag and praising the greatness of the United States of America.