“My appointment as Director of Jewish Outreach has been a distraction for the NY GOP. As such I am resigning my duties,” Yossi Gestetner said in a message on Twitter.
Shortly after his initial message, Gestetner’s blog, GestetnerUpdates.com, provided illuminating details about his sudden resignation. Specifically, Gestetner wrote that his opposition to Democrat Simcha Felder in the upcoming “Super Jewish District” State Senate race puts him at odds with Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who is apparently supporting Felder instead of Republican candidate Senator David Storobin. “Skelos’ boys were obviously not happy that someone as vocal against Felder as me was retained by the NY GOP State Committee,” Gestetner stated, “and therefore called for my head late last week.”
Cable television station The Jewish Channel claimed that Gestetner’s resignation occurred within a half-hour after a reporter for NY1 asked State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox about the channel’s interview with the blogger. During the segment, Gestetner spoke about a number of issues that could render him controversial in the eyes of both the Republican Party and New York State’s Jewish community. Among those mentioned were Gestetner’s role as a spokesman for a Williamsburg fundraiser for the legal defense of an alleged child molester; his somewhat controversial position that Orthodox Jews should first report suspected cases of child abuse to a rabbi before going to secular authorities; and his experience as a consultant for “Torah True Jews Against Zionism,” an organization officially opposed to the existence of the Jewish state of Israel due to its belief that that Zionism is incompatible with Torah Judaism.
“I try to give the Orthodox and Chasidic community a fair and balanced chance in the court of public opinion,” Gestetner explained. “Many things I have said have been distorted, taken out of context and even presented falsely.”
He went on to note that the Republican Party was the target of significant criticism over his appointment as liaison.
“I didn’t come here to cause trouble. I came here to bring the GOP closer to the Jewish community,” Gestetner stated, “but if I am creating a problem, the responsible thing to do is to submit my resignation.”
During the interview with The Jewish Channel’s reporter Steven Weiss, Gestetner would not explicitly condemn “Torah True Jews Against Zionism,” instead claiming that his consulting work for them did not necessarily mean he is in agreement with all of their positions. When Weiss asked him if he would classify himself as a Zionist, Gestetner responded, “I’m an American, I live in the United States, and I hope to see that people who live in Israel, such as my immediate family, that they are safe and sound.”
Gestetner also strongly implied in the interview that Orthodox Jews should support the Republican Party because it is more genuinely concerned with the poor than the Democrats are, and the GOP would be just as forthcoming with government benefits for Orthodox Jews in need.
Weiss, who is also The Jewish Channel’s managing editor, insisted that the revelation during his interview about Gestetner’s work for the anti-Zionist group was the key factor generating his resignation from his new post.
“The idea that a major party political official would work against the idea of a Jewish state is something that strikes very close to home,” Weiss asserted.
But Gestetner jumped on Weiss for making such a statement.
“Mr. Weiss – whose news reports have less views in a busy week than what my blog has on a slow day – is claiming credit for a story that is bigger than him,” the political maverick wrote. “My opinions and views about Israel are in line with huge majorities of Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, and as far I am concerned, the NY GOP did not have an issue with it.”