When Shlomo Gewirtz saw the front page of the New York Daily News last Tuesday morning, he was beside himself.
“Daddy’s Little Ghoul,” read the headline on the front page that showed Ivanka Trump, the President Trump’s daughter and adviser who had participated in the Jerusalem ceremony, smiling, apparently pointing to a photograph of Palestinians carrying away a comrade who had been injured by Israeli troops during ongoing demonstrations at the Gaza border.
In case the intent of the headline was not clear, the text at the bottom of the page stated, “55 slaughtered in Gaza, but Ivanka all smiles at Jerusalem embassy unveil.”
The implication of an indifferent first daughter — a convert to Judaism, arguably “the most famous Jewish lady in the world,” Gewirtz told The Jewish Week — infuriated him.
Having worked at The Daily News for several years in the 1970s — he now divides his time between New York and Israel as a marketing expert — he wanted to protest what he saw as “a visual lie” against Ivanka Trump, who in truth was smiling and pointing to the just-unveiled seal at the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
He decided to stage his own personal protest.
Armed with the laminated sign he made, which proclaimed: “Extra! Extra! Daily News front page goes crazy anti-Semitic,” he went to the Daily News headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
Dressed in a shirt, shorts and baseball cap, for more than an hour he held up the sign, sometimes chanting its message. He was mostly ignored but at one point a “nattily dressed man” approached, Gewirtz recalled. The man introduced himself as Jim Rich, Daily News editor-in-chief. “He sat down next to me.” For 15 minutes they engaged in a “very polite but passionate discussion,” Gewirtz said, with him criticizing the paper’s journalistic treatment of the front page and Rich defending it.
When Rich invited Gewirtz to put his feelings in a letter to the editor, Gewirtz asked if he could write an op-ed.
Rich agreed, and two days later, Gewirtz’s 700-word essay, headlined “Why I picketed The News Tuesday,” appeared. The paper’s “group of distinguished professionals mutilated an otherwise jubilant picture of dedication into a grotesque caricature of schadenfreude, or the experience of pleasure, joy or self-satisfaction that comes from seeing the troubles of others,” he wrote.
The result of his one-man protest, he said, was an essay that defended Jewish values in a major publication. “I had a feeling of pride that someone stood up – one person can do something.”
“I’m not boycotting The News,” Gewirtz explained. “I want them to restore the fair coverage of the Middle East for which it was noted,” he said, adding that the paper’s Opinion pages remain generally supportive of Israel.