This weekend I came across this Tweet from Josh Greenman, the New York Daily News opinion editor:
Fear halakha law. RT @TIME: Why did a Jewish court sentence a dog to death by stoning? | http://t.co/m3afMdT
The link goes to a remarkably unsourced story headlined "Shocking Sentence: Jewish Court Condemns Dog To Death by Stoning."
Written by Nick Carbone, the article quotes precisely no one in describing how "ultra-Orthodox judges" thought a dog was a reincarnation of a secular lawyer and are calling for the dog to be put to death.
I am pretty sure that Carbone lifted the story without attribution from Ynet, an Israeli news site. I met some reporters from Ynet when I was in Israel on an Act For Israel media fellowship. They seemed like nice enough chaps. I also know that the news site has a less than stellar reputation for getting the story right. It was just last week, for instance, that they reported on an upcoming Glenn Beck rally and announced:
The multi-million dollar production is expected to be attended by a convoy of American dignitaries, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. US Senator Joe Lieberman, a independent, and Republicans Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Congresswoman Michelle Bachman are to join Beck at the rally as well.
Within minutes, reporters discerned that this was completely true except for the parts about Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachman. Even Lieberman isn't "expected" to attend so much as "hasn't yet declined."
So when I realized the story was from Ynet, I wondered if there was any other corroborating evidence to support this story about ultra-Orthodox judges sentencing a dog to a stoning death. I mean, stranger things have happened from the ultra-Orthodox community so I wouldn't be shocked if it were true, I was just being my natural skeptical self.
While I did find an unbelievable number of stories about this stoning sentence (including a few on some rather unsavory sites with anti-Semitic commentary), I found very little in the way of original reporting or corroboration. I mean, the Ynet site claimed it found out its info from a website called Behadrei Hadarim. And I heard that an Israeli newspaper called Maariv had reported the story, too. Maybe it's a language issue -- I don't read Hebrew and I feel that might be important for my sleuthing.
Perhaps your mileage will vary. What do you think? Does something smell iffy about this story? Or am I being too skeptical?