For many in the Orthodox community, it seemed only a matter of time before the quasi-risqué news aggregator known as Vos Iz Neias was banned. On Dec. 22, a kol koreh, literally a public announcement, written in Hebrew, was posted in Williamsburg and Borough Park forbidding advertisers and Internet users from visiting the site.
The notice, signed by 36 prominent charedie rabbinical figures, warned that the dangers of the Internet were “already known and publicized,” and that only those with explicit permission could use it. However, the letter continued, “Satan has found a way.”
“A site exists on the Internet known as ‘Vos Iz Neias,’ as if it were founded only to spread news of the Jewish world,” the letter stated. “Yet it contains a hidden ambush — in the news, it includes stories and events of the corrupt, abominable and lowly. It is full of tumah (impurity), filth, foul language; lashon hora (slander), gossip and embarrassments of Torah scholars; it also brings forth libel and slander regarding individuals and organizations dedicated to Torah ... It also writes against officers and politicians under whose favor we live, to ruin their reputation; the disgrace of G-d’s name is terrible and mighty.”
The letter continued that individuals and organizations were prohibited from advertising or working with the site since it “enables the wicked and assists evildoers.” Readers were told not to buy from those who advertise on the site. The ban concluded by repeating that using the Internet was forbidden except for business purposes. The response was an almost immediate chaotic flamewar that engulfed the Jewish blogosphere. Shmarya Rosenberg of the Failed Messiah blog was the first to post the ban. The website Matzav.com pounced on the kol koreh two days after it was published. Harry Maryles of the blog Emes V’Emunah defended the site on the Zev Brenner talk show and received a phone call that implied his site was about to be banned.
“Is this what Jewish leadership has come to?” Maryles asked in a post. “Mafia style intimidation tactics?”