Max Blumenthal’s recent street video, Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem, has generated lots of heat from center-right pundits like Ron Kampeas of JTA and Jeffrey Goldberg. I think it’s safe to say they consider it cheap-shot, ambush journalism slightly higher in ambition than TMZ’s stakeout and harassment of Hollywood celebrities in order to catch them in embarrassing moments.
There is perhaps an element of truth in this. Blumenthal and Joseph Dana, with whom he produced the video, picked young, drunk, hate-filled American Jews who were ripe for satirizing, ready for a fall. I think Blumenthal knew what he was getting and was just as happy to allow these Jewish boors to implicate themselves in their own sleaziness. It would perhaps have been more enlightening to invite these same individuals to talk to when they weren’t inebriated and could sustain more than a few words without an expletive. But I have little doubt that the sentiments wouldn’t have been almost the same, though perhaps cleaned up a bit.
This video, however, is what it is and there is nothing wrong–contrary to Kampeas’ and Goldberg’s contentions–with it. Claiming that interviewing geshikert Jews is somehow unfair to them is bogus. These kids hold virtually the same views stoned or sober. To argue differently is to be divorced from reality. Anyone who reads this blog knows that such racism and hate lurks not just under the surface, but right out in the open within Israel and in certain pockets of right-wing pro-Israel American Jewry. Read the vile genocidal words of Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman published in Moment Magazine. Read the warning of a Yeshiva University dean that Ehud Olmert should be hung if he gives up an inch of Jerusalem in a future negotiation. Read racist IDF t-shirts boasting of raping Ismail Haniye and shooting young Gaza children. Remember the hooligan pogroms by extremist Jewish settlers in Hebron in which a Palestinian family was almost burned to death in their home.
This is not a bad dream. This is not something that can be dismissed with a wave of the hand. This is not a few bad apples. This is a seam that runs right through the bedrock that is modern Israel and American Jewry. The challenge I have to the Kampeases and Goldbergs of the Jewish world is: what are you going to do about this? Are you doing to dismiss it as testosterone-infused teen-aged horseplay; or are you going to engage in combat with this infected stream of nationalist Zionist thought?
Huffington Post has already given Blumenthal its answer. After he uploaded the video to its site, the editors took it down claiming it had no news value. Similarly, HuffPost refused to publish the post I wrote for them about the IDF racist T-shirt episode. It seems that for some liberal political websites posting material that is too embarrassing for Israel is treif, even if it is Israelis or Jews themselves who are doing the embarrassing.
Here are a few of the more articulate passages of the video worth considering:
Interviewee: I think it’s really fucked up that he’s going to all the Arab states and not coming to Israel. Oh, he’s a Muslim for sure. And who even knows if he was born in the United States. We haven’t seen his birth certificate yet. Bullshit. He’s not from the U.S. He’s like a terrorist. What is he doing for this country so far? Nothing. And I’m a political science major so I know my shit.
Interviewer: Do you know who Benjamin Netanyahu is?
Interviewee: No. Is he the Israel prime minister or something? I don’t know who he is. Who’s Benjamin Yahoo?
Interviewee 2: You’re all about talking to the Arabs, going to Cairo, making a speech to the Muslim world, trying to get them to love you. What about the Jews, man? What are we, chopped liver? You don’t care about us? Are we nothing to you? Do we matter? Do you care if we get driven into the sea? Do you care if we get nuked? Are we even on your–do you even care about us?
My grandmother was in Auschwitz, Obama. We’re not gonna take any Nazi bullshit. Listen man, my grandma’s number was 1268493. I remember her number on her arm, dude. And listen, Never Again will we deal with this. Never again. Bring it on, motherfuckers.