Jerusalem court did not order dog to be stoned

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  July/August 2011:

JERUSALEM— “There is no basis for stoning dogs or any other animal in the Jewish religion,  not since the days of the Temple or Abraham,”  decreed the Beth Din financial court in the Mea Shearim district of Jerusalem on June 3,  2011.

But that was far different from the story circulated worldwide two weeks later,  which erroneously asserted that a Beth Din judge had ordered that a dog should be stoned,  as the alleged reincarnation of a deceased lawyer who had been barred from the court 20 years earlier.  The erroneous version was the most read story of June 17 on the BBC News web site,  and was also distributed by hundreds of other news media,  even though the original source had long since issued a retraction and apology for comments apparently meant as a parody of ultra-Orthodox behavior.

“On 3rd June 2011,”  admitted The Israeli newspaper Maariv, “we published an item headlined ‘Meah Shearim: A Bet Din (religious court) instructed that a dog be stoned.’  In the article it was reported that a complaint was made to the police by the Israeli animal protection society against the Rabbinical Court for Monetary Matters in Jerusalem.  The article brought a categorical denial of this accusation from the head of the court,  Rabbi Yehoshua Levin. According to him, workers from the municipal authority collected the dog from the court.  The headline of the article did not reflect the full story and we apologize to the court and its members for the distress caused.”

Maariv,  a well-respected Hebrew daily,  ranks fourth among Israeli newspapers in readership.
Continued the Beth Din statement,  “The female dog found a seat in the corner of the court.  And the children were delighted by it;  there were hundreds outside the court.  They are used to seeing stray cats but most have never seen a dog before.  The only action we took was to dial the number of the Jerusalem Municipality to get the people in charge to take it away.

“There was no talk of reincarnation,  a lawyer has never been mentioned, either now or 20 years ago,  and there was no stoning,” the Beth Din added.  “Such inventions are a kind of blood libel,  and we wonder why the inventor of the story did not continue to describe how we collected the blood of the dog to make our matzah.”

The dog was reportedly taken to a no-kill shelter operated by Let The Animals Live.  The matter appeared to have ended–but then, summarized Christian Science Monitor reporter Eoin O’Carroll,  “The BBC,  along with Agence France Presse,  Time,  and a handful other news outlets got the story from Ynet,  the website for Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s second-largest newspaper.  Ynet didn’t do any original reporting.  They got the story from Behadrei Hadarim,  a small Hebrew-language news outlet for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community.”

Reported T. Sevroai of Virtual Jerusalem,  “One onlooker did state that when the dog refused to leave,  a judge asked some kids to chase the dog away.  The man confirmed that ‘They didn’t issue an official ruling.’  The man claims that some of the kids outside were asked to throw something at the dog to make it go away.  While this is not an animal-activist’s dream, it is certainly not on the same level of the initial claim which portrayed the court members as demented,  superstitious and vicious towards animals.”

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