Last week, we ran a story about the Maccabeats, a Jewish choral group from Yeshiva University. As you may recall, we covered the singers' performance at the White House and the allegations that the government asked the men to subsequently take down concert footage they posted online. Following reports in a number media outlets, the Maccabeats want to set the record straight.
Last week, the ensemble posted the following message on its Facebook page:
So there's a really interesting rumor circulating online about how the White House demanded we remove a video of us privately singing for the President. Never happened. We only posted the video privately in the first place, out of respect for our host, especially after we were treated so well by the entire staff. We think the White House has more interesting things to do than hunt down Maccabeats videos.
This response contradicts reports, so The Blaze decided to dig a bit deeper. As readers may recall, the story about the video's removal was originally reported by Matzav.com:
Mordy Prus, a baritone with The Maccabeats, told Matzav.com that following the President’s request, the group removed the video from Youtube. They then asked Matzav.com, which had hosted...the video on its own server, to remove it as well.
The Blaze connected with Immanuel Shalev, the Maccabeats' associate director, to discuss this issue further. In an e-mail, Shalev explained that the actual story is a very different from what Matzav.com posted. He wrote:
The performance you can find online is the performance we did publicly at the White House. We met the President privately and that was the video Matzav is talking about. It never happened that we posted a video and the White House contacted us to take it down. They just asked us not to post private videos in the first place.
You can watch the video of the group's public performance below:
In a phone interview earlier this morning, Shalev reiterated these sentiments. He explained that, following the event, the group complied and posted the private video meeting with the president on a secure YouTube account. Someone then took the video and reposted it publicly, thus ignoring the White House's request. According to Shalev, it was this video -- the "leaked" private video -- that the Maccabeats, not the government, asked Matzav.com to remove.
Following this revelation, we reached out to Matzav.com to corroborate. We received an e-mail this morning that reads as follows:
We were told by the Maccabeats that which we reported. The Maccabeats have since backtracked a bit. See their clarification on our site today.
On Matzav.com's web site, a clarification from Shalev reads:
When [the video] was posted by several third parties without our permission or knowledge, we asked those parties (your site included) to remove the video, as per our original instructions.
So, it seems that there's still a discrepancy between Matzav.com and the Maccabeats; what the Maccabeats say is misreporting, Matzav.com calls backtracking.
The Blaze reached out to Mordy Prus (the Maccabeats member who Matzav.com claims originally divulged the video removal controversy), but we did not receive a reply. Shalev said Prus forwarded him the e-mail, but that he (Shalev) is speaking on behalf of the group.
Interestingly, WhiteHouse.gov has a video posted of President Obama thanking the group for its performance, but footage of the performance itself cannot be located on the site. Shalev told The Blaze that the White House did provide them with an official copy of the performance, which is now posted on Yeshiva University's YouTube page.
Some may assume there's an effort on behalf of the Maccabeats to cover up for the Obama Administration. However, Shalev told The Blaze that, politically, most of the group disagrees with the president.
"Most of the Maccabeats are actually Republicans," he explained.