Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why Frum Kids in Jerusalem Shouldn’t Behave Like Frat Kids in Cancun (Or Gang Kids in Bayside)

Of all the reactions to the Max Blumenthal-Joseph Dana "Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem" video (see below), the one I understand the least is, "What do you want? These are drunk kids six thousand miles away from home." Excuse me? Max already made the obvious comment that lots of people, including college kids on spring break, get drunk without spouting racist hate and death threats. The better comparison would be with drunken bigots. Maybe gang members in Brooklyn. But leave college kids out of it. I teach at a state university with a reputation as a party campus. There is a lot of (illegal) binge drinking, but little hate crime.

Shouldn't this video be bothering folks in the US who don't want their nice Jewish kids acting like neo-Nazis at a skinhead convention? Don't tell me who these kids don't represent. Tell me what you are going to do about them and the other kids you send to this country.

Something inside me says that if the students on the video started to take off their shirts and pants and make vulgar motions with their lower bodies, that would bother their orthodox parents more than their shouting racial epithets. Am I wrong here?

A piece by Ron Kampeas in JTA was predictably bad. Jeffrey "I-Can-Criticize-Israel-But-You-Can't" Goldberg made the obligatory comment that Max Blumental "doesn't seem to like Israel that much" (which would explain why Max has spent time and money going around interviewing Israelis he admires and respects, like David Grossman and the Ta'ayush folks). But at least Goldberg, unlike Kampeas, showed moral decency by being offended by the behavior of the kids in the video.

I am waiting for a sensitive editor like Gary Rosenblatt of the New York Jewish Week to pick up the story, which is not about how folks in Israel feel towards Obama, but about how some American Jewish kids come to Israel on Birthright and yeshiva programs, and desecrate God's name in public.

How public? Well, close to half a million people have seen the video.

How's that for giving food to the anti-Semites.


Dana said...

It is now over 250,000 hits from what I gather.

So where are the people - and bloggers - who were ever so shocked by Mel Gibson's drunken anti-semitic rants? But maybe that's the thing - it's only shocking when the drunken reveller is neither Jewish nor a "college" kid.

Y. Ben-David said...

This is the biggest example of hypocrisy I have seen in a long time. I am sure that you, as a Professor, know that there are two different words in Hebrew, one is "dati" (religious) and another, "tzaddik" (righteous). Obviously they aren't the same thing. You and I and all the other religious people know plenty of religious people who don't follow the Torah as it should be done.
Secondly, I am not aware of any law yet that says it is forbidden to criticize or say bad things about Obama (forgetting the foul language aspect of it).
Third, regarding the fact that it is "disappointing that these are educated young people", well you must have a short memory. What did a lot of educated young Jews of the time say about President Johnson or President Nixon? The same things exactly. I read the autobiography of Astronaut Frank Borman, who was on the first mission to orbit the Moon. He was a military officer on leave during his astronaut career. After the flight he and his crew visited Cornell University. They met with a group of students invited by a famous "progressive" Jewish Professor there and they spent an hour cursing Borman and his crewmates about the War in Vietnam even though Borman did not fight there and had no part whatsoever in forming the US policy.
Then there is Professor Amitai Etzioni who writes columsn at TMPCafe. He wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago saying that he thought a Palestinian (which he supports setting up) should be demilitarized. They ended up having to close down the comments section because of all the curses and foul language directed at Etzioni. Most if not all of this came from "college educated" people. Of course, all you have to do is mention the names "Bush" or "Cheney" in order to get an outpouring of epthets, many from "educated, progressive Jews".
Needless to say, the blogs of your good buddies Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz have endless comments full of profanities, antisemitism and hate.

So if you know feel it is legitimate weapon to post this clip and then extrapolate to ANY group of people with the purpose of blackening the Jewish people's name (because that is what you are doing, it is not merely that they are "Zionist Louts" whom you are trying to disassicate yourself) then you are showing that you believe that "ends justify the means" and that you are no different than the others.
It is also ironic that you had your meeting with your sensitive, "progressive" friends occurred in a coffee house on Emek Refaim which, of course, is stolen Arab land, as the Arabs see it, and I don't see any of you organizing a movement to find the Arabs from whom it was stolen and give their homes back to them, and this is something they have the power to do as individuals. I recall you wrote you won't travel on Highwar 443 because it is on "occupied Arab Land", but you do travel on Highway 1 which ALSO goes on occupied Arab land, although less. Exactly how much land has to be "occupied" before you won't go on it?. I don't know if you go to the Kotel, but many "progressives" who think like you do, and that was also "occupied" in the same war.

Avram said...

"I haven't seen this story picked up by the Jewish media"

I think it made Haaretz, if that counts as Jewish media! ;)

Mike said...

There is a deeper question we should ask ourselves. If these are yeshiva students following a scholarship in Israel, their behavior illustrates maybe the spirit of what they are learning. This is maybe a degraded version of Judaism, the dark nationalistic side of Judaism. And if it is not, it shows that the Jewish wisdom they are learning has no connection with their lives and no influence upon them. So what’s the use ?

This said, I still think it was an easy shot. In French, there is a saying : "You don’t shoot at an ambulance". It is somewhat twisted to take your camcorder in a joint full of drunken kids and ask a controversial question, knowing beforehand that it will lead to aggressive reactions. The question I would ask to Blumenthal is how he edited his video. Did he cut and took out all the testimonies that didn’t fit with his basic assumption ?

The great Sergei Eisenstein used a trick to show that you can make believe a story with only 3 photograms, depending on the order (ABC, ACB, BCA etc) you present them.

evets said...

I avoided watching this video for a few days because I kew it would depress me. Now that I've seen it, I wish I hadn't. My kids are the same age as those in the video and grew up in the same world (though, thank Gd, they don't share the ideas expressed). I know this world intimately and know, therefore, that the liquor was not the culprit here, merely the facilitator. Amongst Modern Orthodox, religious Zionists and their secular or Yehivish fellow-travelers, this stuff is more or less mainstream, though I'd say the older generation probably holds a broader range of political opinions, having grown up before the neoconservative worldview enveloped the religious Jewish community and choked off other avenues of thought.

yonahred said...

if one supports the settler movement then the assertive stance taken by president obama is clearly offensive and due to its recentness is still quite raw. if one is sober (and a supporter of the settlers) one might say, "obama is trying to curry favor with the muslim/arab world and thus he has placed the settlement issue front and center, gone back on the word of the previous president,and shown his naivete regarding arab hatred of israel
and for the west in general." if one is drunk one will say something much more embarrassing.

as for mel gibson, the man is a celebrity and he is used to paparazzi and if he drives drunk and is recorded in a police car mouthing off he deserves all the bad press that he gets.

i personally am opposed to the settler movement, although i travel on roads in occupied territory if the cabby takes such a route and i certainly visit friends and places in occupied territory. (were jews supposed to leave the kotel in its condition in june of 67 and not allow the rebuilding of the jewish quarter of jerusalem? i think not, although blowing up buildings with person(s) still inside would have been avoided by a morally conscientious authority.) odds are if obama has his way, the path to the jewish quarter and to the western wall would be "less assured" than it is now. yet how long will it take for hamas and fatah to get on the same page? and will they concede the right of return (to a sufficient degree) to enable a signature by tzipi livni in 2015. i doubt it.

Mary-Lee said...

Y. ben David, one time I asked a good friend why it is that Jewish kids in the U.S. are so enamored of Israel. I have never been to Israel and was genuinely interested. Her answer was that she thought it was because Jews called all the shots in Israel; Jews are in charge... not goyim.

I understand that these particular kids were drunk, but even so... their attitude towards Obama and their comments that Israel is theirs show that she was at least on the right track.

Being in charge and calling all the shots are serious responsibilities that require wisdom and compassion, not arrogance and gloating and disrespect.

Let's take a closer look at the ones we send on the Birthright trips. Some of them apparently feel a wee bit too entitled.

US_Objector said...

This video is now up to 400,000 hits on YouTube, even though it was suppressed/censored on Daily Kos, Huffington Post and The Max Blumenthal video is a frightening mirror of skinhead-like, Semetic-supremacy attitudes that pervade American Jews on the loose in Jerusalem. Imagine if these hooligans had been spouting anti-Semitic statements rather than anti-African American hate -- the Jewish community would rightfully be up in arms and the ADL would send out press releases seeking fresh funding to combat such hatred. But where is Abe Foxman when it comes to this type of hatted? The ADL "declined comment" according to the Jerusalem Post. Shameful.

LeaNder said...

to take your camcorder in a joint full of drunken kids and ask a controversial question

Even if you consider it "controversial" to ask people in Jerusalem what they think about Obama's upcoming speech in Cairo, wouldn't you expect to see at least a part of the people considering it in a at least hesitantly positive light?

Max Blumenthal is quoted in a JP article on the video. He says of all the material he took no one responded positive about Obamas upcoming speech. Do you think this is the obvious outcome of asking such a "controversial" question?

I have to admit that I find most of the people in the video not very interesting, except the young man towards the end: "what about us, are we chopped liver?" I would like to know more about this young man. He expresses best what I feel or felt in this debate for quite some time now. I don't know how to put it but a highly emotionalized reaction to something that doesn't fully explain this strongly emotional reaction. He shows best the side I always felt present when watching more aggressive expressions or threats, it felt it ultimatey cloaks a deep fear.

And why exactly does he gives us an Ausschwitz tatoo number, supposedly of his grandmother, that can't have an been an Ausschwitz tatoo number? Is he so agitated that he makes a mistake? Has he never paid such close attention to his grandmothers real number? Did his grandmother not survive Auschwitz? And in his dispair he simply invents a number for her? Not knowing that the ones that were selected for the gas chambers immediately weren't tatooed at all?

I wouldn't have paid attention to to this, hadn't someone pointed it out. But once I paid attention it also triggered visual images. Not the real numbers of survivors, but somehow movies. Yes it feels I have seen such seven-digits-numbers too. But I don't remember where.

Avram said...

"The question I would ask to Blumenthal is how he edited his video"

I asked him why he didn't 'blend' the video with moderate & left wing takes on Obama. He responded that he'd get the 'other side' and he did today on Weiss's website. Granted, he went to a Hadash sponsored rally against the occupation and in support of Obama.

What saddens me, and Max has yet to respond to this, is that he's caused a tremendous anger against Jews (not "Zionists" or Israelis). Just go follow the comments where the video is posted and boy oh boy do we see some vitriolic anti-semitism. It's why he should have shown a 'blended' tape - the good AND bad we have, not just the bad. But hey, he's a reporter and hence, he has an agenda (and that he 'works' for Weiss leads me to believe he's for one state and has strong anti-Zionist feelings - this is NOT confirmed one way or another, just my take)