5:45 pm Jun. 20, 2012
Yossi Gestetner, a Hasidic operative who worked for the New York State G.O.P. as a liaison to religious Jewish voters, resigned from his position today, writing on Twitter that his job had become a "distraction" to the party.
Shortly after that, The Jewish Channel wrote, "Prior to our airing an investigation and interview tonight, @nygop official @yossigestetner has resigned."
A source familiar with the situation said Gestetner's resignation was the result of that interview, in which, according to the source, Gestetner suggested that he himself was not a Zionist. The source said Gestetner also contended in the interview that the G.O.P. was actually the party of big government, and defended his association with a Orthodox Brooklyn man who was accused of sexual abuse*.
(Context, which doesn't make the comments any less impolitic or inconvenient from the party's perspective: Many Hasidic Jews are anti-Zionist, and the issue of sex abuse, and how allegations are handled by prosecutors, is a major source of tension and debate in New York's ultra-Orthodox communities right now.)
Back in May, Gestetner served as a spokesman for an event that raised money for the accused sex offender, telling The Guardian, "People came out tonight to support the American ideal of innocent till proven guilty," and also, "Many people in the community are fed up that this whole case gets tried in the court of public opinion not the court of law. People feel under siege."
UPDATE: Here is a more detailed story from Steven Weiss of The Jewish Channel.
UPDATE: Gestetner spoke to NY1 and has published his own letter describing his departure. He says politics was a "main reason" for his departure: His criticism of Democratic state senate candidate Simcha Felder made Republican State Senate leader Dean Skelos unhappy because Skelos had a deal to support Felder, he said.
Also, Gestetner, in the interviews with The Jewish Channel and NY1, defended his work as a spokesman at an event in May that raised money for an accused sex offender, saying the the accused is innocent until proven guilty and that when these allegations arose, the religious Jewish community was unfairly covered in mainstream media. In the NY1 interview, he said he would probably not take a job advocating for people making accusations of sexual abuse against rabbis, saying it was unfair to use specific instances of wrongdoing to tarnish an entire religious community.
*The wording of this sentence has been changed for clarity. The original version suggested that Gestetner was offering a defense of proven sexual offenders, rather than accused sexual offenders.