Nearly five months after joining a violent mob in storming the U.S. Capitol building in a failed bid to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election, the controversial editor of one of the United States’ largest Jewish newspapers has been removed from his position.
Last month, Elliot Resnick, the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Press, a hard-right Orthodox newspaper based in Brooklyn, was revealed as a participant in the January 6 insurrection, which left five dead and injured more than 100 police officers.
In a video published by the Politico news site, Resnick, 38, can be seen tumbling as he enters the Capitol building through a doorway while a Capitol police officer tries to keep out intruders. Resnick reappears a few minutes later, his face clearly visible, standing nearby as another rioter shouts at a Capitol police officer.
Resnick was not arrested for his participation in the insurrection.
Resnick, who became the paper’s top editor in 2018, subsequently wrote an opinion piece defending the insurrection, asserting without proof that the “storming of the Capitol came in reaction to a stolen election.”
“Democrats keep on declaring that never again can this country see its Capitol overtaken by a mob. Well, there's an easy solution for that,” he wrote. “Don't steal elections in plain sight, and maybe ordinarily law-abiding citizens won't snap.”
Responding to the article in Politico, the Jewish Press editorial board initially defended Resnick, writing in a statement that he had been in Washington “covering the rally and the rest of the day’s terrible events for The Jewish Press, where he has been a reporter and editor since 2006.”
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Explaining why no coverage bearing Resnick’s byline had been published, which would have established that he was present as a reporter and not a participant, the editorial board said that it had “decided not to print any article – by Elliot or anyone else – in our print edition because of the heated atmosphere surrounding the day’s events, especially within New York’s Orthodox Jewish community.”
In a Facebook Post on Wednesday, staff editor Shlomo Greenwald announced that he was replacing Resnick.
“The Jewish community has changed in what issues most press us (pun not intended, but noticed) and what we want to read about. What has not changed is our love for Israel, the Jewish people and our commitment to bringing important issues to light,” he wrote, adding that he was looking to bring “unique perspectives” to the paper.
Greenwald is the grandson of Jewish Press founders Sholom and Irene Klass. His father Jerry currently serves as managing editor while his aunt Naomi Mauer is the publisher. He has been at the paper since graduating from Columbia University with a masters in journalism in 2004.
Aside from Greenwald’s announcement, there was no official statement from the paper, although a source with knowledge of the matter confirmed to Haaretz that Resnick was indeed was no longer at the paper. Resnick has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Abrasive and controversial leadership
A native New Yorker, Resnick joined the staff of the Jewish Press shortly after graduating from Yeshiva University, the flagship institution of American modern orthodoxy. In an appearance on the Jewish Living podcast last year, he described being hired as a reporter shortly after graduation because his mother, former journalist and activist Molly Resnick, was a friend of the paper’s owners.
As editor, Resnick proved to be an abrasive and controversial leader, drawing reprimands from the Anti-Defamation League for anti-LGBT rhetoric, as well as for running articles praising Rabbi Meir Kahane, a former editor of the paper who was banned from serving in the Knesset for racism and whose Kach party was designated a terror organization by the United States.
In one article, Resnick declared that “in a Jewish state, only Jews should vote,” quoting the rabbi to buttress his point. In another, he described his own experience of “near trance” while reading one of Kahane’s books in high school.
He has also courted controversy with his online behavior, tweeting hot-takes criticized as racist and bigoted.
In one tweet, Resnick appeared to justify slavery, writing: “How about this exchange? Whites give blacks money, and blacks publicly thank whites for giving them Christianity to replace the primitive African religions they were practicing when they got here.”
He repeatedly called into question the existence of white supremacy in America , describing reporting on the issue as a “con game” and asking “What is a ‘white nationalist’ and when is the last time such a creature walked the planet?”
On several occasions, Resnick held up Judge Roy Moore, an accused pedophile who was twice removed from the bench and has been accused of antisemitism, as a moral example for conservatives. In one 2019 tweet, he declared that the hard-right Republican was a “hero” for “defying anti-religious Supreme Court rulings.”
Resnick’s comments came two years after Moore was accused of antisemitism for claiming that Jewish financier and philanthropist George Soros was “going to the same place that people who don’t recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going.” The judge’s wife later stated that the couple couldn’t be considered biased because “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Another controversial figure praised by Resnick was Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who he contended had significantly more “decency and civility” than most contemporary liberals.
In August 2018, Resnick appeared to autocratic regimes’ use of the death penalty to suppress dissent. Responding to a tweet condemning Saudi plans to kill a female dissident, he replied “Archaic why? Because you say so? The punishment for blasphemy in the Bible is death, if I'm not mistaken. Since God is a bit smarter than us, perhaps we should endeavor to understand why this crime is so severe rather than call His eternal values archaic.”
His support for government suppression of speech appears to disappear when it comes to American social media, however. In an Facebook post last October, Resnick stated that “either we believe in free speech or we don't. If we do, we can't call on Facebook on Twitter to ban Holocaust deniers or anti-Semites like Farrakhan.”
'Trouble from the start'
“Resnick was clearly removed because he had become a liability for the paper,” commented Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, an Orthodox journalist in New York.
“He had already been testing the boundaries with extreme views on various social issues expressed in rather fundamentalist, radical ways. But [January 6] really sort of was the final straw, it seems to me.”
Resnick’s comments, she said, reflect an “extremism that has become the norm in orthodox media outlets” which she does not believe necessarily reflects “a community-wide opinion, which tends to be much more heterogeneous.”
A former Jewish Press employee who agreed to speak to Haaretz on condition of anonymity agreed, saying that Resnick “was not a good choice for editor.” “His predecessor was a truly conservative editor in the sense that he tried to curb the tendency of some rightwing writers to go wild with their statements [but] Elliot was trouble from the start,” he explained.
“I think the official version is that he was [in Washington] as a reporter. They tried to legitimize it instead of getting rid of him at the time. I think in the end he proved to be just too much because the Jewish Press, despite being right wing, also operates in the reality of New York City. The paper was reading the writing on the wall.”
A more moderate future ahead?
Meanwhile, Greenwald’s public facing social media postings appear to portray a more moderate figure, poking fun at far-right outlets like the One American News Network and Newsmax and have expressing opposition to former President Donald Trump.
“I have had only great interactions with Shlomo. He is balanced, he is extremely professional and has the right temperament, I think, for such a job and I wish him a lot of luck,” said Chizhik-Goldschmidt. “I hope he expands the paper in reflecting different views and also in employing sober reporting.”
Contacted via Facebook Messenger, Greenwald declined to discuss staffing issues, telling Haaretz that he was “both exhilarated and daunted by the work ahead in building on the great things The Jewish Press has always done while making improvements.”
“The Orthodox Jewish community in the U.S. is broad, and I hope to make a newspaper that will speak to and enlighten the community. The core interests of the community remain: fighting for a secure Israel and advocating for religious freedom at home, areas that The Jewish Press has always championed, and that I will continue to embrace in this role,” he said.
Asked if he would take a more moderate and less hard-right tone than his predecessor, replied: “read the paper in the next few months and find out.”
JTA contributed to this report.