The leader of Israel’s chapter of Democrats Abroad, an international organization that promotes the interests of the Democratic party among expatriate Americans, has condemned Max Blumenthal’s Feel the Hate in Jerusalem video as “drivel” and “hate material.” Instead of blaming the American Jews who spouted racist epithets smearing Barack Obama and the peace process, Joanne Yaron appears to blame Max Blumenthal for producing the video in the first place.
After the group’s spokesperson lambasted Blumenthal in the right-wing Jerusalem Post, Yaron wrote:
The video is a stupid piece of hate material. [Saying] anything more than that [about the video] would elevate such nonsense to the level of a worthy opponent, which it is not. Let’s forget it.
Earlier Schorer had said this to the Post:
The spokesman for Democrats Abroad in Israel, Sheldon Schorer, called the video “useless.”
“This video is of no value whatsoever. If you removed the expletives you’d be left with very little material,” Schorer said.
The video…”should be ignored as a silly piece and as more of a comment on the depth to which the Internet can sink. The journalist really should have gone out to find people who had an opinion and supported their opinion. You can’t have an intelligent discussion with someone who is inebriated,” he said.
What I find astonishing about this reaction is the notion that the individual American Jews featured in the video did not have an opinion or support their opinion. At work among Jews offended about the video, is the notion that the views expressed somehow don’t count because they may’ve been spoken by geshikert Jews. Mel Gibson was drunk when he asked a non-Jewish Malibu police officer whether he was Jewish and then proceeded to rant about the Jewish conspiracy to run the world. Did Abe Foxman dismiss his views and say they should be “ignored?” Of course not. So why is a shvartze-hating Jewish drunk let off the hook when an anti-Semitic Hollywood celebrity isn’t?
The video has been viewed on YouTube and other sites several hundred thousand times, yet Yaron dismisses it as little more than a prank unworthy of being addressed. One of the interviewees boasts about shooting the president if he endangers Israel. All of the interviewees express disgust with Obama’s Israel policy and African-Americans in general. Yet Democrats Abroad wants to shoot the messenger instead of defending the president and addressing the source of the Jewish hate. It make you wonder about their priorities.
So what’s the real problem here: it’s that pro-Israel liberal Jews wear blinders. They are so petrified about anti-Semitism and what potentially damaging material like this can do to Israel that they refuse to examine the underlying issues. We need to confront Jewish hate not excuse it as the drunken prank of Jewish teenagers. For every drunken Jew in this video, there are 100 who are not drunk who freely express such attitudes. But because there are anti-Semit’n lurking out there waiting to pounce on the least tidbit that embarrasses Israel the operative phrase is: sha shtill.
A similar process was in play when Israeli liberals like those in Meretz (Yaron is head of the World Union of Meretz North America-Australia desk) initially refused to condemn the wars in Lebanon and Gaza. They were petrified that they would look like enemies of Israel by critizing her in her “hour of need;” instead of thinking what the proper Jewish (or even Zionist) moral response should be to Israel’s brutish behavior. Again, we’re faced with a certain timidity when what was required was forthrightness. Essentially, they did the wrong thing for the wrong reason. That is why Meretz tanked in the last election. It no longer (if it ever did) represented a true alternative to the political mainstream. It became its left bank instead.
What Jews need is a truly progressive vision of Israel and Jewish identity, not a blinkered one represented by Democrats Abroad or Meretz.