The State Republican Party's director for Jewish Outreach abruptly resigned Wednesday after NY1 began asking questions about his background. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Yossi Gestetner admits he's been affiliated with "contentious issues."
He was a spokesman at a fundraiser benefiting an alleged child molester. He did media outreach for a group that doesn't want Israel to be a Jewish state. He said Republicans sometimes offer more government services than Democrats.
The Jewish Channel (Channel 528 on Time Warner Cable stations) conducted an investigation that revealed that the New York State Republican Party's newly-hired Director of Jewish Outreach Yossi Gestetner, among other things, held anti-Zionist beliefs and advocated on behalf of violent offenders and sexual abusers in the ultra-Orthodox community. Read The Jewish Channel's investigation here.
"It is not my business or the business of any professional, to go out there and before they speak to the person to say, 'OK, let me see, how Jewish or not Jewish is he? Do I agree or disagree with everything they stand for?'" he said.
While the state's 1.6 million Jews are hardly united, it is clear many wouldn't agree with Gestetner. And that would have made it even harder for him to dislodge them from their traditionally Democratic vote.
NY1 first learned of the controversy from The Jewish Channel.
Hours before his Wednesday resignation from his post as the State Republican Party's director for Jewish outreach, Yossi Gestetner spoke with NY1's Josh Robin about controversial work he did as a media consultant. Watch NY1's inverview with Gestetner here.
In an interview taped for the channel last week, Gestetner said an observant Jew suspecting another of molestation should go to a rabbi first. He added that a rabbi should direct them to the police.
"It is preferred that people should consult at least with a rabbi how to proceed," he said. "Because too often, especially in the criminal justice system, jumps to conclusions."
Steven Weiss is the channel's managing editor. He says Gestetner's work for True Torah Jews Against Zionism may have been the most radioactive part of his past.
"The idea that a major party political official would work against the idea of a Jewish state is something that strikes very close to home," Weiss said.
Gestetner said he has family in Israel and only wants its success.
He said he'd be willing to be a spokesman for most causes, though clearly his life's work is to defend what he calls unfair coverage against his community, which he says is on the rise.
"If you want to tell me I'm wrong, OK," he said. "But at least in the Orthodox and the Hasidic community, they feel that if somebody gets accused or arrested for allegedly committing a crime, they don't get a fair chance in the court of public opinion."
Gestetner's resignation came in a Twitter post. He did not respond to an email after. His daily email newsletter made no mention of his departure.