An Orthodox Jewish newspaper on Monday apologized for digitally deleting US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton from a photo of US President Barack Obama and his staff monitoring the raid by Navy SEALs that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The Brooklyn weekly Di Tzeitung, which says it doesn’t publish images of women, printed the doctored photo on Friday. It issued a statement saying its photo editor hadn’t read the “fine print” accompanying the White House photo that forbade any changes. The newspaper said it had sent its “regrets and apologies” to the White House and the Department of State.
A second woman, US Counterterrorism Director Audrey Tomason, was also deleted from the photo, which captured an historic moment in the decade-long US effort to apprehend the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Di Tzeitung said it has a “long standing editorial policy” of not publishing women’s images, adding that its readers “believe that women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for what they look like, and the Jewish laws of modesty are an expression of respect for women, not the opposite.”
The weekly said Clinton, a Democrat who represented New York state as a US senator, had won overwhelming majorities in the Orthodox Jewish communities because they “appreciated her unique capabilities, talents and compassion for all.”
Di Tzeitung, published in Yiddish, is sold at city newsstands, especially in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods, which have many Orthodox Jewish residents. It acknowledged it “should not have published the altered picture.”
An editor at a Manhattan weekly that has covered Jewish issues since the 1890s addressed why the Brooklyn newspaper might have altered the image.
The Forward’s managing editor, Lil Swanson, said that removing women from photos was “in keeping with” the belief of some Orthodox Jews that showing images of the female form is “immodest.”
In the original photo of the White House Situation Room, Obama and his national security team are gathered around a table, following in real time the operation that culminated in the killing of bin Laden at his Pakistani compound on May 1.
The White House, which issued the photo, had no comment on Monday on the removal of the women from it.