Saturday, June 7, 2008

Inside Baseball: Former editor sends "apology" to Our Man Elli; repeats charge of "bias" in Israel League reporting; claims "utmost repect" for him

We were all set to give you the back story of the fight between Our Man Elli in Israel and Jay L. Abramoff, who publicly challenged the right of the Jerusalem Post and the Haaretz news organizations to criticize the failures of, or raise questions about, the Israel Baseball League or question the intentions of the American businessmen seeking to profit from baseball in Israel, because they didn't sign a paid reporter to cover the IBL's first trouble-plagued season.

We were going to give you the story, that is, until Our Man Elli sent along Abramoff's response to his criticism of the column he emailed around the world yesterday. This response goes beyond his questioning of Elli's motives in reporting the original exposé on August 28th, 2007 that brought out the truth about the IBL. In fact, while Abramoff continues defend the league that left native Israelis alone holding the bag for close to half a milion dollars in debts, he also continues to accuse Elli of "bias" in covering the story; refers to his groundbreaking, lifesaving advocacy reporting as "bitching"; confuses the editorializing from the Tabloid Baby staff with Elli's reportage; questions whether Elli is paid to write here; and refers to this respected, quoted news organization-- the first to publish Elli's expose and the only one to give continuous, comprehensive coverage of professional baseball in Israel-- as "a friend's blog."

Oddly, he ends the note with an ass-lick, telling Elli: "I have the utmost respect for you because you are doing what a lot of people try to do and fail (including me?): be an English-language professional print, television and Internet journalist in Israel."

That's how you show respect? A few words come to mind. Jealous. Petty. Bitter. Jealous.

Read the email for yourselves. We'll get to the back story after we throw some water on Sam Peters.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 19:30:36 +0200
From: "Jay L. Abramoff"

Subject: Re: The Israel Baseball League

CC: Haaretz English Edition
Jerusalem Post Sports



Thanks for reading it.

Sorry about the "Wohlgelernter" reference. At one point, I had your full name mentioned earlier in the piece, but deleted it and I should have deleted the second reference, too.

I had not seen your April 14 report; for whatever reason this morning, I looked up "Israel Baseball League" on and the Post's material from last week came up.

Yes, "as far as I am concerned," because my opinion, no offense, means just as much as yours, Jeremy Last's, or anybody else's. The fact that I don't get pieces on the IBL published in "Jewish newspapers" does not mean that my opinion means any less than yours or Last's.

So, your "published" pieces are straight news reports and not color or comment pieces, huh? I have never, ever claimed to be a properly-trained or paid staff reporter with supposed neutrality, as I made clear, but even though you claim to be an unbiased journalist, your personal feelings about the IBL and its management should be clear to anyone who reads your "news" reports, and Haaretz, specifically, should have inquired further about them before running your "not-color" expose on the IBL. On the other hand, my piece is known to all to be just my opinion based on what I have read and what I experienced.

I, of course, feel sorry for all the people and serious events that you mentioned. But, honestly, you cannot walk down the street or drive your car in Israel or the US without taking a risk. And, you know what, I personally would have refused to play IBL games at Sportek and at Gezer due the conditions of the fields there. But, parents have allowed and continue to
allow their kids to play baseball and softball at Gezer, in a field in Baka'a, at Kraft Family Stadium, and, up until a few years ago, at the previous Sportek field in Tel Aviv. BTW I was the one who arranged for our softball league to play every game at Gezer instead of YMCA or Kraft because of the condition of those fields. What exactly have you done to improve the safety of those playing softball or baseball in Israel, besides maybe bitching about it?

I stand behind my claim that you, among others, expected an Israeli MLB, and were disappointed when that is not what the IBL was. You, of course, know the difference between a "semi-professional, developmental minor baseball league" and a single-A professional league, and while I disagree with your premise that the IBL was intended to be a single-A-level league, it doesn't matter. How many people show up to single-A games? How many players are
seriously injured in single-A games? How many hundreds of kids, by comparison, enjoy going out to single-A games in I-don't-where? How did/does the IBL compare to the "minor" professional soccer or basketball leagues in Israel?

I agree, the Post sucks, and Haaretz is even worse - and maybe I have some sort of responsibility because I agreed to be Sports Editor at the Post for 10 months and a sports desk editor at Haaretz for about nine months. Then again, I left both positions.

You know as well as everyone in the journalism business that the difference between "alleged" and "fact" is not always clear - even after court trials.

Have you reported, besides on a friend's blog (for which you get paid?), that Bachar (I admit that I do not know who that is) and Rosen have given sworn testimony regarding Baras's "potentially criminal behavior"? Or are their claims just that, claims. And what makes this different than any other start-up, which may or may not get a brief in the Post or Haaretz, or your attention for that matter?

Again, this is all not personal against you, even though you felt that about what I wrote last year about Haaretz publishing your IBL piece. I have the utmost respect for you because you are doing what a lot of people try to do and fail (including me?): be an English-language professional print, television and Internet journalist in Israel.



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