New York tabloid under fire for coverage of murder of prominent hasid

Local politicians and members of New York City’s ultra-orthodox community have demanded an apology from the New York Post.

Hasidic man. [File] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hasidic man. [File]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Local politicians and members of New York City’s ultra-Orthodox community have demanded an apology from The New York Post following a report in the newspaper on possible motives for last week’s murder of hassidic Jew Menachem “Max” Stark.
“Who DIDN’T want him dead,” the New York newspaper’s front-page headline asked on Sunday.
According to police sources who spoke with the newspaper, “any number of people wanted to kill” Stark, a 39-yearold hassidic Jew, dealing in real estate, and dubbed a “slumlord” in the article.
“We think he’s a scammer,” an anonymous police source was quoted as saying.
Accused by the paper of involvement in “shady real-estate transactions” as well as defaulting on millions of dollars of loans, and refusing to pay contractors, Stark reportedly had numerous enemies.
“He pretty much ripped off the whole building,” one tenant of Stark’s told the paper.
“I’ve had many conversations with him, and of course in many of those conversations I wanted to kill him,” another quipped.
According to records obtained by the New York newspaper, Stark owed tens of thousands of dollars in fines – for 148 violations spread among 17 different properties.
Kidnapped and forced into a van on Thursday, Stark was found in a dumpster, suffocated and badly burned on Friday.
He was said to have borrowed 500,000 dollars immediately prior to being kidnapped and one source told The New York Post that he “owed a lot of people money.”
Stark had a different reputation among New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, however.
Known to his co-religionists as a generous man, who was quick to loan money to those going through hard times, the father of eight’s funeral on Saturday evening drew hundreds of mourners.
Speaking with the New York Daily News, Stark’s brother Yaakov described him as “a good man” who “helped everyone,” and alleged that his detractors were “jealous because he was successful.”
One relative told the Daily News that he believed the murder to have either been a “mafia job” or an anti-semitic attack.
The New York Post “crossed a line,” the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America asserted in a statement panning the paper’s “offensive coverage of the vicious murder of a young hassidic father.”
“Particularly at a time when Jews have been attacked on New York streets and are regularly vilified by hateful people around the world, the tabloid has demonstrated unprecedented callousness and irresponsibility,” the organization asserted.
Local politicians were also quick to attack The New York Post.
“I understand that The New York Post wants to sell papers and that they are willing to sacrifice the standards of propriety from time to time. But there is a difference between bad taste and just plain indecency,” said state assemblyman Dov Hikind, an orthodox Jew, in a statement.
“The pain that this headline caused to not only a man’s family but to the entire Jewish community is indescribable and was so unnecessary. It was a heartless act that should never have been allowed. It was truly beneath contempt.”
New York councilman David Greenfield went even further, accusing the newspaper of “condoning the murder and kidnapping,” in a tweet; one of over 4,000 bearing the hashtag #StopNYPostHate.
Meanwhile, members of the local Jewish community also took to twitter to demand that companies stop advertising in the newspaper.
“Who did not want him dead? Who didn’t? His children did not want him dead,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said at a protest against the paper, according to
“New Yorkers, we’re a jaded bunch... We expect many bizarre things on the cover of our tabloids. But the one thing we do not expect is to literally kick someone while they’re down, and to condone the murder of an innocent victim,” Politicker quoted Greenfield as saying at the rally.