The Times of Israel is what I call “junkbox journalism.” In its entire short history, I can’t recall it ever broke a major news story. Though it had generated its own set of mini-journalistic scandals: like when one of its bloggers complained that the stress of Operation Protective Edge was making her fat; or another in which a white supremacist posted an anti-Arab diatribe in the name of a respected American lawyer; or when an extremist settler advocated genocide against the Palestinians. Oops, all of them disappeared in a puff of smoke from the online pages of TOI.
Further, TOI’s idea of what is news is quite suspect. Like other Israeli media outlets, it sees itself as much as a booster of national morale as a serious journalistic enterprise. This is true despite the denials of its hedge fund financier, Seth Klarman, who disingenuously claimed TOI would be non-partisan.
Yet another example of this boosterism is an article, Bruce Springsteen: I really need to play in Israel, by the managing editor, David Horovitz, which co-opts Bruce Springsteen in the fight to legitimize Israel.
As anyone who’s ever heard the name “Springsteen” knows, Bruce is in the midst of a book tour promoting his new memoir, Born to Run. Fans have the rare opportunity to meet him at bookstores around the country, scores some concert tickets and even get a selfie with their idol. I imagine that the True Believers who’ve followed him going all the way back to his musical origins would travel quite far for such an opportunity. But one Israeli-Canadian outshone them all.
Amy Kalman, a mother of four, flew from Israel to give Bruce a hug and beg him to normalize Israel by performing there. Here’s how she described the meeting:
“When we met, I said to him, ‘I just want you to know that I’ve flown in for the day from Israel,’” Kalman told The Times of Israel.
“And he said, ‘Well, that gets a hug.’”
Kalman went on: “I’d been thinking on the plane about, how could I say to him, nu, play in Israel already. But I didn’t get to say any of that because he immediately said, ‘I really need to play there.’”
“And I said, ‘Yes, you really do!’”
Then, Kalman said, she told Springsteen, “Thank you for sharing your hopes and dreams, music and love with so many people. And he said, ‘Thank you, I appreciate that.’ And by then, my time was over. I’d had my moment.”
Now, Kalman never admitted her purpose was to persuade Springsteen to publicly reject BDS (about which he’s never made any public statement). In fact, she falsely claimed to have no political mission in her meeting with him. But as anyone who follows the Israeli hasbara apparatus knows, it’s precisely those who deny political motives about whom one should be most skeptical. Here’s how she characterized her motives:
Kalman said she has no desire to get into the political dimension of a Springsteen concert in Israel, and just hopes he adds the Holy Land to his concert map.
She said she took Springsteen a gift of a jar of Israeli honey; fans’ gifts, with a personal message, were welcomed, and fans were assured they would be given to Springsteen later.
In her accompanying message, Kalman wrote to Springsteen, “My wish to you on this New Year is that it should be a sweet and healthy one for you and all those you love, and, that you will bring your own sweet soul to Israel in the coming year.”
Clearly, her goal was to lobby for a political outcome in purely personal terms. Quite an effective ploy. Admittedly, the hasbara apparatus isn’t usually this skilled. So all credit to her for concealing her motive so well.
Kalman’s claim that she flew from Israel all the way to Freehold just to meet Bruce rang a few alarm bells in my head. Further, she’s done quite a bit of jet-setting following her hero around the world:
In July, she, her husband, two sons and a daughter-in-law flew to Zurich to see his concert there, incidentally running in to Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid and his wife, who had made the same journey for the same reason.
How many of us can afford multiple roundtrip international flight just to meet a childhood idol? Well, clearly she can. Why? Because her husband, Jonathan, is an Israeli venture capitalist, who is the CEO of Dion Investments and sits on no less than thirteen corporate boards. He is the managing director of Neuroderm as well, a pharmaceutical company dedicated to marketing drugs to treat Parkinson’s.
Ms. Kalman’s claim to not be a pro-Israel advocate is stretched thin by a fund the couple established to buy military gear on behalf of the IDF’s 7th Armored Brigade:
We are raising funds to provide the soldiers of the 7th Brigade of the Armoured Corps with dust goggles, multi-purpose Leatherman tools, mobile phone chargers, water packs, head mounted flashlights and more.
You’d think that recent $38-billion military aid deal Obama just worked out with Netanyahu might cover the cost of some of these items…
Kalman’s description of this IDF unit is also instructive:
…In 2014, the soldiers of the 7th Brigade are once again battling for the security of the people of this country. The IDF is a citizen’s army, and comprises a complete cross section of the population. It is a place where people of different backgrounds come together with a common purpose to defend the Jewish People.
Hey, I don’t know about you, but I’m part of the Jewish people and I don’t need defending from the 7th Armored Brigade, the Mossad or any other Israeli entity. This attempt to conflate Israel with the Jewish people is classic hasbara.
I doubt Bruce would be too keen to support an army of occupation like the IDF, which is what his Number One Fan, Amy Kalman does.
Contrary to Steven Van Zandt’s ignorant claim that the Israel-Arab conflict was too complicated to be compared to the South African struggle against apartheid, it really isn’t. Here is what he tweeted a few months ago:
“The problems there have existed for a thousand years and you want the solution in 140 characters?” and, finally, “I understand how it might appear that way but your analysis is incorrect. It’s a lot more complicated than SA.”
What is complicated is the discomfort and ambivalence that the tens of thousands of Palestinian dead arouse in the minds of liberal Zionists. Van Zandt had no problem with the ANC’s violent resistance to the white South African regime. Probably because it was graphically clear that 4-million whites shouldn’t govern 17-million Blacks. Israel has no such imbalance. So you have to look a bit harder to understand the real, pervasive injustice. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that Israel is as apartheid a country as South Africa ever was. Not to mention that Israel has killed far more Arabs and Palestinians than white South Africa ever killed Blacks.
So why do liberals like Van Zandt have problems with Palestinians resisting their dispossession just as South African Blacks did? Certainly at least one element is that he could understand the plight of Black folk much easier than he could the plight of Arabs. We in the west are trained to see Muslims and Arabs as violent, uncivilized, homophobic and misogynist. That’s a lot of baggage to overcome. The same kind of baggage that white liberals had to overcome in 1950s America before they acknowledged the struggle for civil rights.
I urge Bruce Springsteen to think long and hard about exactly what a performance in Israel would mean. No doubt he would want to reciprocate a performance to an Israeli audience with a performance to an Arab-Palestinian audience. But where could he perform after headlining in Tel Aviv? Who would have him? Leonard Cohen tried doing precisely the same thing and it didn’t go over too well.
Unfortunately, this is one of those situations in which liberal humanism doesn’t work. There are some situations in which you have to take a moral stand. You can’t equivocate. You can’t have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. You need to take a stand like the one the E Street Band made in boycotting a performance in North Carolina after it passed a discriminatory law forcing transgendered people to use the bathroom of their birth gender. Why are transgendered Americans any more deserving of justice and support than Palestinians?
Now you’re savaging Springsteen fans? How sad.
The fact that she flew to Zurich to see a Springsteen concert, with no chance of a meeting, ‘The Boss’, is proof enough that she simply loves his music, and naturally, would like to have Springsteen perform in Israel so she can see him perform again.
Amd further proof that this woman is merely an adoring fan, is the fact that she has no political connections, save the ones you’ve strained to contrived.
What a shame it is that we can’t all be as passionate about music as Amy Kalman.
Deïr Yassin says
Just out of curiosity: what were your prior pen names ?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Lotta: I’m only savaging one particular Springsteen fan who has an ulterior ideological motive which she conceals rather expertly. I’m a Springsteen fan & certainly not savaging myself or any other fans who love his music without having a nationalist ideological agenda as Kalman does.
She has numerous ideological convictions which I outlined in my post. She is no innocent as you make her out to be. As for Kalman’s “passion.” It’s for Israeli nationalism and legitiimizing militarism & Occupation–all values Springsteen abhors.
Ms Kalman conceals her ulterior, ideological motives so expertly, that only Richard Silverstein can ferret them out.
And speaking of contrivances, “dust goggles, multi-purpose Leatherman tools, mobile phone chargers, water packs, head mounted flashlights..”, are not ‘military gear’.
I know this because we own multi-purpose Leatherman tools, water packs and mobile phone chargers, which we use when we go camping ‘beyond the black stump’.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Lotta: So you’re claiming that a fundraising campaign for the IDF 7th Armored Brigade is not meant to advance it’s military mission? But rather to provide R&R when the boys are back home soaking in a hot tub or going on a family camping trip?
You are done in this thread. Do NOT comment further here.
“The IDF is a citizen’s army, and comprises a complete cross section of the population.”
Shoded Yam says
It is, while not perfect, certainly more so than most armies in the west, your snark and incredulousness notwithstanding. And I say that as an IDF veteran and an Israeli citizen who believes that Israel should leave Gaza and the West Bank in its entirety, and grant full sufferage to its Arab citizens along with the attendant responsibilities, such as military service.
It is a complete cross section of the population?
Shoded Yam says
Insofar as that has been possible, taking into account the constrictions of ideology and political intrigue (deals made with the religious, etc), yes, I do believe it represents a credible cross-section of the population, transcending race, but more importantly, economic strata. I will concede however, that this is in a large part inherent in a conscript army, and would likely be the case in any army with such a system.
No, other conscript armies may be a cross section of the population, but not the IDF! It is not a people’s army, but the army of only part of the people. And there is a good reason for that, which you may find it hard to acknowledge.
The Palestinian Israelis are officially exempt from service because every sane person understands you cannot expect service from a people that was victimized by the army they are supposed to serve in. Even if they personally were not expelled at Israel’s creation, family and neighbors certainly were, and some 274,000 of them, or 1 in 4 (!) Palestinians in Israel are ‘present absentees’ who have been robbed of their possessions, even when residing within Israel’s borders. (And this is a conservative estimate.)
So how can you or anybody claim the IDF represents a ‘credible cross section of the population’ when only about 3,000 (mostly Druze) of Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens serve? (And even if they do, they are excluded from the elite combat units.)
Shoded Yam says
As, I said, within the constricts of ideology and political intrigue. I of course have the advantage of having actually experienced it, despite your doubts as to my veracity, whereas you’re a dilettante armed with a supposition and an Internet connection. I believe this conversation is over. Good day to you. Richard, my apologies. I will not be commenting further.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Shoded Yam: Are you mad? Israel’s army is “more perfect” than most armies in the west? Howso? It may’ve killed fewer civilians than the U.S. military, but that’s only because it operates on a slightly smaller scale. If the IDF has killed 40,000 Palestinians since 1948 & we extrapolate that number with the U.S. population (compared to Israel’s) that’s a huge number of dead. Though the U.S. has killed millions in Vietnam, Iraq & elsewhere, the IDF would be right up there on a per capita basis.
Shoded Yam says
We’re talking apples and oranges here. I was addressing the question of the IDF as a “citizen army”, I will leave the issue of perfection or lack thereof to others.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Shoded Yam: IF you were confining your comment only to that aspect of the IDF, that wasn’t clear to me. Besides, it isn’t a citizens’ army when it excludes or exempts Israeli Palestinians and Israeli ultra-Orthodox. Only about 50% of eligible individuals end up serving.
@Richard: “So you have to look a bit harder to understand the real, pervasive injustice. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that Israel is as apartheid a country as South Africa ever was. ”
So, do you ever stop to think why other intelligent and educated (and most Americans at least as indicated by polls) people DON’T come to the same conclusion as you? Are they all brainwashed by the same dark forces that make Americans “trained to see Muslims and Arabs as violent, uncivilized, homophobic and misogynist”, in your words? Do you even entertain the idea that maybe you (and BDS) are simply wrong?
Gideon Levy (and I am not used to quoting him) recently wrote an editorial in Haaretz basically admitting that Bibi has won. In the battlefield of ideas, your sort of progressive liberalism is simply losing. The US president most sympathetic to the Palestinians is leaving office; Arab countries have mostly given up on the Palestinians. The Palestinians are as divided and weak as ever. Israel has become stronger economically, militarily and diplomatically as ever, notwithstanding the noisy shrying of the BDS crowd. I don’t know where this leaves Israel in the future– I honestly want the occupation to end.
What a hoot. If Israel is doing so splendidly than why is the European and American Israel lobbies in such a hysteria attacking BDS? They have been so hysterical they are trying to define proPalestian activism in the US as a form of antisemitism. They are attacking academic freedom on US campuses in their efforts to thwart the boycott of Israel.
Those poor Palestinians in such disarray. If they would only cooperate with Israel, the problems would end. First and foremost, they must recognize Israel (which they have done), then as a Jewish state (and accept that it was right and good that they should move out of their homes so that immigrants could move in!. Following this, they can pack up whatever culture and things they have left that has not yet been “appropriated” for the state or converted to a “closed military zone” and commit themselves to a refugee camp, hopefully outside of mandate Palestine, just as Israel wants. Cooperating with Israel will end the violence and solve the 2S/1S problem. Silly people, in such disarray that they ask for outside help (BDS). This just means that Israelis, overburdened already with other peoples property, will have to take the time and energy to lock them all up until they come to their senses. BDS will never win regardless of Civil Rights in US, Montgomery boycott, Gandhi’s passive resistance or myriad other peaceful protests…
If this site had a ‘ thumbs up’ option I would give it to your post, David.
Thumb up for what? collection of libel and inaccuracies?
This sort of propaganda is exactly why some mistake anti-Zionism with antisemitism
Richard Silverstein says
That is a violation of the comment rules. Consider yourself warned. Read the rules & respect them or your time here will be exceedingly short.
Richard Silverstein says
I know far more about the views of these people than you imagine. I read their claims regularly & rebut them regularly. I know what they think. I know why they think it. I know what is wrong with their ideas & thinking & point it out regularly.
As for my being wrong, I’ve been thinking intensively about these issues going back to 1967. I’ve had plenty of time to refine my views & adapt them as circumstances change. IF anything, I’ve moved farther to the left as a result over time, rather than to the right.
Gideon Levy would never claim that Bibi “won” anything. He might claim that BIbi was victorious, but never that he is right. You dont’ appear to understand the distinction.
As for “losing,” it is Israel which is losing. Losing everywhere that counts. Your country is led by a war monger & war criminal. Your citizens appear content with it. But the world isn’t & there will be a reckoning which will hurt you & your citizens profoundly. You will experience pain like you’ve never experienced. take a look at Serbia after it lost Kosovo. That’s what’s coming.
The only Arab countries which gave up on Palesitnians are dictatorships like Egypt, the Gulf States & Saudis. There are many, many other Arab & Muslims states which have not.
As for “weak,” Israel’s position is weaker than ever. FOrces are mounting outside Israel which grow ever stronger by the day. Israel is not strong morally. Moral bankruptcy will trump every other strength you list including military & economic.
You are either shameful liar or hopelessly deluded. Occupation will not end until you face & accept what is necessary to make it end. Until you do (and you don’t) it will not end. WHich makes you a fool.
Since I’m not a troll I won’t continue to recycle the same arguments. I made an argument, you responded, fine. You’re predicting disaster and I’m not. I’m glad that you were gifted with the powers of prophecy, to tell me I’m deluded. .
So she has money and most people don’t. Why does it worth talking about? She is a lost case anyway.
Why is Springsteen coming out clean? He is the one who cast a shade on all his fans
John F. says