An Israeli journalist writing for the Adelson-owned, Makor Rishon/NRG, devised an Israeli version of Charlie Hebdo to embarrass the Muslims of Paris. It is ‘gotcha journalism’ of the worst sort. The reporter, Zvika Klein, donned a kippah and tzitzit (he is not Orthodox) and spent ten hours roaming the streets of various Paris neighborhoods. He focussed particularly on Muslim neighborhoods hoping he would provoke an especially vehement or abusive response. He succeeded. Several passersby spat or glowered at him or shouted “Vive Les Palestiniens!” To further reinforce the point that Arabs are animals, he walked through other neighborhoods where he was treated civilly.
This is journalism of the most cynical, debased sort. Why? Because Klein doesn’t plan to walk through Tel Aviv’s poorest neighborhoods dressed as an African refugee. Nor does he plan to walk through Tapuach or Yizhar wearing a keffiyeh. If he had, he likely would’ve been killed rather than just spat upon. He doesn’t plan to walk through Meah Shearim kissing his boyfriend. When he tries these stunts and publicizes the reactions, then we’ll know he’s trying to be fair and balanced rather than an Islamophobic provocateur.
Also note the video condenses 10 hours of walking into 1:36 seconds. What other sorts of responses are in the other nine hours and 59 minutes? The other aspect of this gimmick that is objectionable is that he refused to speak to anyone he met. This makes him a palimpset onto which the passersby project their own views. But it also prevents any passersby from understanding what he is doing and why. As I say, if he did something similar in many Israeli neighborhoods he would have a far worse reaction.
In a related matter, Bibi Netanyahu has once again exploited the Danish shootings to call upon all Jews in Europe to make aliyah. The only problem is that with few exceptions they’re not responding. Denmark’s chief rabbi rejected Bibi’s call saying the place for Danish Jews was in Denmark. Despite a temporary increase in aliyah from France over the past two years, the overall Jewish population in western Europe is increasing. The numbers of Jews in two of the three most populous European Jewish societies (Germany and France) have each grown since 1945. German Jewish numbers rose from 45,000 in 1945 to 230,000 now (much of the increase comes from Israeli yordim); and French Jewry rose from in 180,000 in 1945 to 310,000 today. The places where Jewish population is decreasing most is in eastern Europe and Russia. These have historically been the poorest, most socially fragmented societies in Europe. Anti-Semitism is less a motivator for immigration than economics and societal dysfunction.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.