I know The Tablet is a project of Nextbook, which has a fairly serious reputation among Jewish literati and that it features Alana Newhouse as editor, whose work I admired when she helped edit The Forward (disclosure: she was the only editor who ever accepted anything of mine for publication there for which I am ever thankful).
But the writing, political orientation, and editorial choices of Tablet strike me as bordering on the bizarre. I suppose they’re competing with sites like Heeb, Zeek, Jewcy and Jewlicious for the most outre, hip, cool iterations of Jewish identity. But I find the attempt falls flat.
Last week, I took Tablet to task for featuring a major story on the wondrous achievement of the first gay porno flick featuring an all-Israeli cast and the producer’s boast that his efforts amounted to doing Israel a favor by promoting its extraordinary beauty and vital society. You’ll have to excuse me while I giggle over the self-serving hypocrisy involved in this self-promotion.
This week, the magazine continues along a similar path by promoting the launch of one of the flimsiest excuses for an organization to grace the Jewish stage in a long time. Z Street (no accident that they chose the last letter of the alphabet as all the others undoubtedly refused to participate), presents itself as the uber-tough guy among hardline pro-Israel groups. Its “leaders” are two of the most laughable Jews ever to beg for media attention. The Tablet snippet about the group does contain a great deal of perhaps inadvertent comedy (at Z Street’s expense):
Z Street founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus…compares her efforts to those undertaken by American Jews who fought to draw attention to Nazi atrocities during World War II.
Ah yes, the ever-popular-with-right-wing-pro-Israeli-types Nazi meme. They’re shouting from the rooftops about the world’s perfidy against Israel and the mortal danger in which the tiny, vulnerable state finds itself. Bravo for these brave Warsaw ghetto heroines! Lowenthal Marcus’ blog is titled (seriously) No More Boxcars.
But how will her group be different from political allies like the Zionist Organization of America and Young Israel? “We intend to be more activist, not so involved with the academic side and the lobbying side,” Marcus told Tablet.
I really had not idea there was any “academic” component to ZOA or Young Israel. I frankly was under the impression that Mort Klein was a pandering, ranting, fulminating maniac. I had no idea he had a PhD (he doesn’t) and did rigorous research to come up with his pro-Israel tirades.
“We want to have people’s attention grabbed and then confront them with the facts that have been obscured by the current discussion on the Middle East.”
Lowenthal Marcus wouldn’t know a fact if it jumped up and bit her, especially not one related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Currently, she’s working to get comedians in on the effort: “Humor is not a tool that’s been used from the [sic] staunchly pro-Israel organizational efforts.”
Now, THAT is truly funny! I can see it now: the comedy stylings of that staunch (and FUNNY) anti-jihadi Islamophobe Jackie Mason, at a benefit concert hosted by Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz on behalf of the Jewish Bobbsey Twins of Z Street.
The Tablet does get a dig in at Lowenthal Marcus’ partner in pro-Israel “crime,” Allyson Rowen Taylor, for her accusation against Adam Horowitz that he supported the murder of his fellow Jews through his work for the American Friends Service Committee. By the way, Cecilie Surasky and I provided that information to The Forward reporter who wrote the original story about that nasty smear.
Is it any wonder that after I wrote my first post ridiculing Z Street that this sort of garbage graced by spam filter:
Submitted on 2009/08/05 at 7:04am
We at Z Street are offering for sale Richard Silverstein’s foreskin with his penis still attached. It is our way of saying thanks to all those who support our now campaign against treason and self-hatred.
Probably not quite the pornographic style even of low-lifes like Rowen Taylor and Lowenthal-Marcus, but birds of a feather do flock together. By the way, there are a number of other similar offerings also written in Z Street’s name.
If you’d like to be “entertained” by more anti-J Street Jewish wingnut hysteria get a load of Pam Geller at Atlas Farted (er, Shrugged).
Finally, the Tablet features an entirely tasteless and unfunny attempt to portray David Axelrod as the self-hating Jew that Bibi Netanyahu has called him. The short piece is meant as parody, but there is entirely no humor or wit in it which is very sad. It was written by Gabriel Sanders who’s written for The Forward and even Vanity Fair. Suffice to say, this isn’t his best effort. The following purports to be from Axelrod’s personal diary:
Woke up at 5:30. Total of three hours of sleep. Finished health care strategy memo around 2 and then spent a half hour reading Mondoweiss on the separation wall. Good stuff. Examined face through bloodshot eyes. That beak! It’s not getting any smaller. Thought the mustache would maybe minimize it, but all it does is make me look more hairy. Caught glimpse of Washington Monument out the window. Kind of reminds me of the mezuzah that hung on the door of grandma’s Lower East Side tenement. What a horror show that place was. Reeked of cabbage and B.O.
Well, you get the idea. I kinda thought that jokes about bubbeh’s B.O. would be treif for all sorts of reasons. But I guess when you’re desperate everything’s game. Alana, you can do better.
H/t Joel Katz.
Treason? I thought you were American, Richard? How could you possibly commit treason against Israel?
Self-hatred? Do you hate yourself Richard? Seems to me – from what I read of Israel and its brutal military – the real self-haters are the ones that profess a love for Israel (today). And the worst of these self-haters shed what little humanity they have left when they enlist in “the most moral army in the world.” By the way, how can an army be moral? It doesn’t make sense. An army, by its very definition is a large body of persons trained and armed for war. And a war is a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation. Force of arms: weapons. We all know the IDF’s weapons of choice (those that hit hardest). So, it would seem that “the most moral army in the world” was obviously a brainchild of a self-hater intent on satisfying his own sense of moral being – if only slightly.
If I were Jewish, I wouldn’t describe myself as self-hating. Rather, God fearing. And it would seem that Israel and its lobby have forgotten who He is.
By the way, it would be interesting to see how the self-hating label stands up in a libel suit. It could end up being laid to rest, finally. Have any so-called self-hating Jews tried this?
“it would be interesting to see how the self-hating label stands up in a libel suit. It could end up being laid to rest, finally. Have any so-called self-hating Jews tried this?”
Actually, yes, in a sort of ways. Richard Falf and Finkelstein for example, were both denied entry to Israel.
Richard Silverstein says
In what way does Finkelstein’s imprisonment by the Israeli authorities & Falk’s denial of entry to Israel have anything to do with self hating Jews & libel? Just because finds these figure undesirable is no reflection either on their being self-hating Jews or truly undesirable. In fact, I find Falk & Finkelstein more “desirable” as intellectuals & moral figures than the intelligence officials who were so afraid to allow them entry to Israel. Can you imagine throwing a Diaspora Jewish intellectual in prison merely for wanting to transit through the country to reach the W. Bank??? True idiocy.
“In what way does Finkelstein’s imprisonment by the Israeli authorities & Falk’s denial of entry to Israel have anything to do with self hating Jews & libel?”
Self-hating Jews” is a term I don’t like and I never use. What we’re talking about are people whose idea of a solution to the Middle East conflict is to demonize Israel to oblivion. Now there are hundreds of thousands of people who share those same ideas and who are even more vitriolic and yet they get in and out of Israel without any problem. So why those two? And why were they allowed entry before?
Because they both went from simply dwelling in the realm of ideas to acting in support of those ideas. Richard Falk deliberately decided to ignore evidence before him and betray his position to demonize Israel at the UN in order to trigger sanctions. Just weeks before he came to Israel, Finkelstein was in Lebanon consorting with, praising Hizballah for their victory and inciting against Israel on every TV show. This is called supporting a terrorist organization. This is not just being an intellectual.
Actions – not ideas – seem to have been the litmus test.
Talking is one thing. Pimping one for the OIC countries and the other for Hizballah seem to be quite another.
Israel is doing a far better job of demonising itself than Richard and other critics ever could.
Look at the mess Israel made a few of days ago when it evicited three families from their homes in Jerusalem and then justified it by claiming those homes belonged to Jews pre-1948, purlease. I doubt the evidence to support that claim will be forthcoming any time soon. After the evictions the homes were immediately occupied by Israeli settlers (not the “original” Jewish owners I’d imagine).
Demonize Israel to oblivion – I get the sense that Israel is being portrayed as some kind of victim here when it is anything but.
According to this article AIPAC wants confidence building measures from Israel’s Arab neighbours before Israel even budges slightly to fart let alone come to sort of agreement. Sounds to me like they’re fully aware that the Arabs will tell them where to stick it and thereby give Israel exactly the excuse it needs to maintain the status quo.
Richard Silverstein says
I appreciate the fact that you acknowledge “self-hating Jew” is a disgusing misused phrase.
That is patently false & a mischaracterization of the views of both individuals. Being a harsh critic of Israeli POLICY is not the same as “demonizing Israel to oblivion.” If you can’t deal with harsh criticism in the face of Israel’s evil policies, that’s not their problem. But you have no right to twist their views. To be clear, calling a policy evil is not the same as calling a people or nation evil, which I haven’t done.
The Israeli intelligence services do not act in a rational, coherent manner. The fact that Finkelstein entered Israel legally & then was imprisoned has nothing to do with any rational decision on the part of the Shin Bet. They’re simply petrified of coherent criticism of Israeli policy & decided to make an example of people they detested. It’s petty & small minded stuff. But typical for the Shin Bet.
Your use of the term “pimping” is odious, ad hominem, & not permitted here. Do it again & yr comments will be moderated.
RE: “We at Z Street are offering for sale…”
MY COMMENT: Beware Lorena Bobbitt!
Richard Witty says
You took that tablet paragraph as “promoting Z Street”?
What planet do you live on?
Richard Silverstein says
Earth, how ’bout you? Why write any story about Z Street at all? What do they bring to the table that is new, interesting, persuasive or compelling? Of all the issues to address in a new Jewish publication that claims its breaking new ground–Z Street?
Richard Witty says
They were writing similarly to your point, of the absurdity of Z Street’s approach.
That is news.
Its news worthy of comment on this blog. That it is news worthy of comment on theirs should say to you, “we agree, maybe they heard it from me”.
Richard Silverstein says
They gave 2 brutish nonentities a forum to spew their hateful views.