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Jennifer Rubin and Shabbat

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There’s been a lot written about the Washington Post’s decision to keep live speculation by its conservative columnist, Jennifer Rubin, that the Norway killer was a jihadist for close to a day after it was clear he was not.

I’ll keep clear of the back and forth over whether a slippery half-caveat she quoted (it wasn’t even her own) salvages her post, as she contends … oh wait. What have I done? Have I made my conclusions clear?

Oh well.

In any case, the Post’s ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, clears her in part because she does not work on the Sabbath:

…What compounded Rubin’s error is that she let her 5 p.m. Friday post remain uncorrected for more than 24 hours. She wrote four other unrelated blog posts that night, through about 9 p.m. Police officials in Norway at 8:33 p.m. Washington time had made their first statement that the suspect had no connection to international terrorism or Muslims. Rubin should have rechecked the facts before signing off, and Post editors should have thought about editing her post more that night.Rubin has a good defense. She is Jewish. She generally observes the Sabbath from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday; she doesn’t blog, doesn’t tweet, doesn’t respond to reader e-mails.

When she went online at 8 p.m. Saturday, her mea culpa post on Norway was the first thing she posted, although its tone also hurt her, particularly this sentence, which struck many readers as borderline racist: “There are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans, and we should keep our eye on the systemic and far more potent threats that stem from an ideological war with the West.”

Rubin has a good defense. She is Jewish. She generally observes the Sabbath from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday; she doesn’t blog, doesn’t tweet, doesn’t respond to reader e-mails.

The problem with this “good defense” is that it’s anything but. This has nothing to do with Shabbat. Pexton says as much — Rubin filed four additional posts over the next four hours, so she had time to check the facts and update her Norway post before signing off; and The Washington Post always had the ability to update the post even after she called it a night.

The issue isn’t when Shabbat started, but what Rubin did before sundown that Friday night and what the Post did afterward.

There’s a long history of Jews having to take risks to observe Shabbat — so let’s save that card for the real thing.

NOTE: My original post left some folks with the incorrect impression that I was judging Rubin’s religious observance. I think this version should clear things up.

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