Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper Der Zeitung has apologized for publishing an iconic photograph of President Obama and his national security team with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security team member Audrey Tomason photoshopped out. The Jewish Week subsequently suggested the photograph had been altered because including women in photographs “could be considered sexually suggestive.”
Der Zeitung has now released a statement saying that “we should not have published the altered picture, and we have conveyed our regrets and apologies to the White House and to the State Department,” the Orthodox Jewish newspaper Vos Iz Neias reports.
Der Zeitung addressed what it cast as “allegations” that the women had been removed from the photograph because “religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office,” calling such suggestions “malicious slander and libel.”
The newspaper offered kind words for Clinton and said it respects all government officials, but that religious considerations prevent it from showing images of women. Editors of the ultra-religious paper decided to crop Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security team member Audrey Tomason out of the photo for fear that picturing two women would be too steamy for its audience.
“In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status,” Der Zeitung said. “Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.”
A statement issued by Der Zeitung, a weekly newspaper aimed at ultra-Orthodox Jews, explains that religious beliefs prevent the publication of photos of women.
“Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention,” reads the statement. “We apologize if this was seen as offensive.”
“The allegations that religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office, is a malicious slander and libel,” the statement says. “The Jewish religion does not allow for discrimination based on gender, race, etc.
“We respect all government officials. We even have special prayers for the welfare of our Government and the government leaders, and there is no mention of gender in such prayers.”
The newspaper says its photo editor did not realize he was violating White House conditions that prevent the altering of any official photographs when he digitally removed the women before publication last Friday.
“We should not have published the altered picture, and we have conveyed our regrets and apologies to the White House and to the State Department,” the statement issued this week says.
The now-famous photo was taken on May 1 by official White House photographer Pete Souza and shows U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with members of the national security team receiving an update on the raid of bin Laden’s Pakistan compound.
When the photo was made available to the press, it was accompanied by the usual warning caption: “The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”
(Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)