American Eagle Outfitter’s CEO is Columbus, OH native, Jay Schottenstein. He is a pillar of the Orthodox community there, one of the largest American donors to Bibi Netanyahu’s political campaigns, and a major donor to Israeli Jewish settlement projects. But the most disturbing aspect of the causes to which he is devoted, is his support for a pre-Yom Kippur concert calling for “love and unity” to be held in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, which would’ve intentionally excluded female performers. The Israeli producer of the event explained that he didn’t make the decision to ban women. That decision was made by the “Orthodox American donor” funding the event. That is, Jay Schottenstein.
Israel has become an increasingly racist, homophobic, misogynist and intolerant society. The IDF has, in some instances, refused to allow female choirs to perform lest Orthodox male soldiers take offense at hearing the female voice which, according to some, unnecessarily tempts a man to wicked thoughts. This is similar to the reason Schottenstein wanted no women performing in Rabin Square.
As Haaretz was planning to publish a story about the event, the Tel Aviv municipality, defended its offer of Rabin Square by claiming that the use of the space for a men-only concert was somehow a decision that exemplified “democratic values.” The World Zionist Federation, the main sponsor of the event also stood by it. But after the report was published, the producer offered to recruit women to perform. But who would do so under the circumstances. The municipality and WZF both backed down and refused to sponsor the concert.
The event will go forward. But it will be dedicated to Selichot, the traditional all-night study session just before Yom Kippur. Given that this holiday is supposed to induce reflection and repentance in those who observe it, one wonders whether Schottenstein will feel he has anything to repent.
Schottenstein’s family foundation donates six-figure gifts to pro-settler charities like the Central Fund for Israel. It gave $300,000 in 2014 according to the Foundation IRS 990 report. It also gave $250,000 to the Ir David Foundation in the same year. It funds archaeological projects designed to support the historical claim of Jews to the Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem and to eliminate a Palestinian presence there. Israeli archaeology has always played an important role in bolstering the Zionist project and demeaning any Palestinian claim to the land. To that end, Schottenstein gave $1-million to the Israel Antiquities Authority for “historical conservation.” He also gave $133,000 to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which administers the Kotel and attempts to exclude non-Orthodox female prayer there. It also supports archaeological excavation which would tend to bolster the effort to rebuild the Holy Temple on the spot currently occupied by the Haram al Sharif. Such projects also incite fierce Muslim opposition, as it threatens to upset the delicate status quo in the sacred sanctum.
Schottenstein has been a follower of the Israeli “wonder rabbi” Yoshiyahu Pinto, who was part of a bizarre plot which enabled ex-U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm, to fleece his followers for campaign donations. Pinto is now serving a prison term in Israel for attempting to bribe a senior police official, who later committed suicide.
As Iris Bar and Conflict Kitchen have pointed out today on Facebook, American Eagle earns hundreds of millions off the backs of the partially-clad female models who take their clothes off to promote its brand. How in heaven could the company’s CEO have thought it was a good idea to fund a public event at which women’s voices would be silenced?
I urge young women everywhere who patronize this chain to think again about who and what they’re supporting when they buy clothing there. Jay Schottenstein’s view of women is little different than those who I can the Israeli Taliban. In Israel’s Mea Shearim this week, the ultra-Orthodox male residents physically assaulted a female news anchor who came there with a film crew to shoot footage for an education project. Though dressed modestly, that didn’t stop the pogromists from attacking her viciously and forcing her to flee.
Let’s not make the mistake of singling out Schottenstein only for his misogyny. It’s obvious to most people including Jews, that there are strains among the Orthodox who are particularly repressive against women. But it goes beyond this. Schottenstein supports Likudism, settlerism and homophobia as well. No enlightened human being should shop in his stores.
“Ban women from concert”? Come on. That’s your typical hysterical headline, which implies that women are being prohibited from attending the concert.
When an organizer selects who it wants as performers, that is not “banning” anybody, no more than a rock concert organizer is “banning” opera singers.
I guess that you miss the irony of your indignation at Orthodox Jews who wish to observe their religious precepts as “misogyny”. I wonder if you or other progressive left supporters would greet similar (or stricter) gender observances by Muslims as accommodating “cultural sensitivities” rather than to refer to it as misogyny, too.
Now you’re suddenly the champion of women’s voices.
I majority of Orthodox Israelis don’t mind hearing women perform. I certainly couldn’t care less. But in order to accommodate the ultra-orthodox who do care, and because of the religious nature of the concert, so that they can attend too, a decision was made. It’s no big deal. So it’s pretty rich to hear you complaining about it. You just don’t like the sponsor’s political views, so you kvetch about “banning women”.
Doug Colwell says
How about a few substitutions. “Let’s accomidate the extreme right-wing (ultra orthodox) so they can attend too. Jews can be in the audience, just not on the stage. What is the problem?
Richard Silverstein says
@Yehuda: You seem to have missed this sentence:
First, a headline is a dramatic representation of the subject of the post. The sentence above clarifies exactly how & who is being excluded from the concert.
Your comparison of rock & opera singers to women & men would be funny of it wasn’t so damn typically insulting to women. When you exclude women from a concert stage & include only men it is nothing like the difference between one musical genre & another. These are human beings, not music. You have excluded half the human race because you feel a woman’s voice will tempt you like the devil. Someone may hold such revolting views if they wish. But manifest them on municipal property in the most famous public space in Israel is not kosher.
Of course it is no big deal to you, a male Orthodox Jew. But to anyone outside that category, including many Orthodox women, such exclusion is a very big deal. Your inability to understand this further attests to the misogyny of fundamentalist religious theology, whether it be Jewish, Islamist, or Christian evangelical.
Richard, you are over-generalizing, as you tend to do. Orthodox women and women and general have much opportunity to express themselves in Israel. Orthodox women rabbis are being ordained. They are well represented in government, army, the arts and in the professions. They are many orthodox women who sing and perform. The situation is far better in Israel than in most parts of the world.
BTW there are women-only concerts, where men are not even allowed to be in the audience. Are these concerts “banning men”? Should I feel “excluded”?
The real problem is not the existence of such male-only performances, but whether or not the state or government should take part in supporting them. In this I assume I would be in agreement with you. This would be the same as the issue with separation of sexes on public buses.
Do you know that in England the government supports sectarian schools? including ultra-orthodox ones? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith_school
There is plenty of discrimination going on there.
There are many who are opposed to it but the sky isn’t falling. Your wouldn’t call the UK a racist or misogynist country because of it.
I know that you would say that I am burying my head in the sand and I don’t see how things in Israel are falling apart. But I would tell you that your perspective is distorted and you are only able to see the bad, collecting all of the examples of where things are wrong and ignoring the rest.
Can you tell me one thing about Israel where you see light, where something is good, or something is improving? Is everything going to shit?
The cancelling of the concert is good.
Richard Silverstein says
I didn’t say otherwise. You know as well as I that I was criticizing an incrasingly dominant intolerant strain among Israeli Orthodoxy. I mean the ultra-Orthodox and others who are allied with them. Obviously, there is a declining group of modern Orthodox who hold less restrictive views on this subject. But over the decades such less strident theological views have lost resonance.
I don’t support state-sponsorship of religion in Israel, the UK or the U.S. It is a major violation of the separation of church and state, which is a foundation stone of our Republic, long may it live.
This question has been expressed here dozens of times. Please avoid like the plague boring me to tears with the 50th rendition of it. I don’t live to make you feel good. I have no responsibility to tell you Israel makes me warm & fuzzy inside. If there are things about Israel that produce such a feeling in me, then search for them here & you’ll find them. Not my job to hold your hand in that. And don’t ever ask that question again. I don’t have to justify my views or feelings about Israel to you or anyone.
Richard, I’m not asking you to hold my hand or make me feel better, nor for you to praise Israel. I am not demanding that you publish pro-Israel articles. My question was rhetorical, when I see only a one sided interpretation of eveything. Its like Israel can’t win in your arguments. When they make a mistake, its criminal incompetence. When they do something bad, its malice. When they do something seemingly good, its cynical propoganda at best, or more likely part of a nefarious conspiracy to fool the world. When somebody here makes comments with information that supports Israel, it “hasbara”. If the evidence points against Israel, then that’s truth.
It seems that short of complete unilateral surrender to Palestinian demands, not matter what Israel does, it is beyond redemption. That’s the picture you paint, and I think it is false and misleading.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Yehuda: when Israel or Israelis do the right thing for the right reasons I will applaud it. When they do the seemingly right thing for the wrong reasons (for ulterior motives) I will not. When they do the wrong thing, I will criticize heartily. Jeremiah, Isaiah & Amos did precisely the same.
Israel is not a feeble child. It can withstand criticism meant to exhort to better behavior. If it cannot it is not worthy of existing.
Cancel the singing by males as well. Why should only female performers be out of a job?
“The event will go forward. But it will be dedicated to Selichot, the traditional all-night study session just before Yom Kippur.”
What? I’m no Judaism expert but Selichot are not all-night study sessions. They are penitential prayers/poems/liturgy said before Yom Kippur. You got Shavuot mixed up with Yom Kippur I think.
Richard Silverstein says
@Arisa: Selichot prayers are recited, like tikun layl Shavuot, between midnight & dawn:
Hence they are a nighttime ritual. But you are correct in that Selichot is not an all night study session, but a prayer session.
Just as a point of information for those wishing to know more about Judaism, Selichot services last about an hour and are usually done either at midnight or just before dawn and the morning Shacharit services at 5 am-ish. Sephardic Jews do them every night during the month of Elul (starting on the 2nd day) leading up to Rosh Hashana, while Ashkenazi Jews do it 4 nights before Rosh Hashana. Tikun Layl Shavuot is an all night Torah study session on the first night of Shavuot.
The misogynists are the ones who should stay home.
The problem in Israel used to be Religious Coercion. Now it is reverse. Liberals will force everybody to follow in their foot steps even when it contradicts with tradition of thousands of years,
Why not complain as well about the fact all performers are straight. Shouldn’t a gay performer put to the mix as well? Or how about Christian or Muslim performer?
This is nothing more than attempt of Secular/Liberal Coercion
Richard Silverstein says
“Used to be?” Get real. You have no civil marriage, no civil divorce, no gay marriage, and the taxpayer subsidizes the lives of Israel’s millions of Orthodox Jews to the tune of tens of millions of dollars and you say there’s no religious coercion?
As for “liberal coercion,” there are no liberals left in Israel. How can they coerce anyone when they have no power over anything or anyone.
I smell a rat, haboob. You will get your ass booted here if you make such claims in future without offering proof of them. We don’t accept opinions without credible sources and facts. READ THE COMMENT RULES before you comment again.
What is the source of the caption “Jay Schottenstein, one smart Jew, understood that it would be most desirable to strip the girl and shut her up.”?
I couldn’t find it on Google in either English or Hebrew.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Yariv: posted by Conflict Kitchen and Israeli feminists on Facebook. The article to which YOU linked says the criticism of Schottenstein came from Facebook. You mean you couldn’t do such a basic search to find it there? Did you bother looking up the Hebrew caption at all on Google before asking that question? I bet not.
“Did you bother looking up the Hebrew caption at all on Google before asking that question? I bet not.”
Well, you are wrong and I specifically wrote it in my message! I googled it!
I just saw this on The Marker (http://www.themarker.com/markets/1.3079137)
“אין לי ולא היה לי שום קשר לאירוע שהיה אמור להתקיים בכיכר רבין, ואיני עומד מאחוריו בשום צורה. מאחל חג שמח ושנה טובה לכל עם ישראל”.
“I do not and did not have any connection to the event in Rabin Square and I am not behind it in any way/ I wish happy holidays and a great year to Am Israel”
Richard Silverstein says
@ Yariv: I’ll believe it when you tell me who was the American Jewish Orthodox donor funding it. Till then, I don’t believe him. Sorry, but right-wing funders of Judean extremists who give millions to Bibi & settlers don’t get much credit for truthfulness in my book.