Mondoweiss Agitprop. By Yaacov Lozowick. Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations, June 8, 2009.
Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem on the Eve of Obama’s Cairo Address. By Max Blumenthal. Video. Live Leak, June 5, 2009.
Mondoweiss: Hate as “Progressive” Jewish Politics. By Adam Levick. Elder of Ziyon, June 29, 2010.
Better Jews. The Moral Vanity of Israel’s Leftist Jewish Critics. By Adam Levick. Adam’s Zionist Journey, December 9, 2011.
Better Jews. The Moral Vanity of Israel’s Leftist Jewish Critics. By Adam Levick. Adam’s Zionist Journey, December 9, 2011.
Academic Boycotts and Re-Colonization by Theory. By A. Jay Adler. SPME, January 28, 2014.
On June 4, Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana released on the Internet, via Mondoweiss and The Huffington Post, their now infamous video “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem.” The video presented a visual compendium of college-age, drunken Jews, in restaurants and on the street, spewing undeniably and phenomenally ignorant, ugly, and racist comments about Barack Obama. All of the young men and women shown ought now be committed to spending a healthy measure of their coming adulthoods to overcoming the shame of their outing as dimwitted bigots.
“I don’t see that it has any real news value,” the administrator told me. “For me it only proves that one can find drunk people willing to say just about anything. Especially drunk, moronic people.”
YouTube followed suit.
Oy, what a thespian. And fraud. Think Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman.
You can argue about Blumenthal’s method all night long. I won’t be there for that argument. Is the video somewhat sensational? Of course. But the views expressed are shocking, and, while they are obviously cherrypicked, they are representative of a real current in Israeli society; and a journalist who is on to something important should have the freedom to highlight shocking stuff. That’s how journalism works. You don’t show readers your out-takes.
Weiss “won’t be there for that argument,” presumably because he can’t coherently respond to it or he doesn’t care. About the method. Something rather important, intellectually, professionally (they are journalists, after all), ethically. He acknowledges the video is of course “sensational,” as in, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:
Arousing or intended to arouse strong curiosity, interest, or reaction, especially by exaggerated or lurid details: sensational journalism; a sensational television report. (Emphasis added)
The views in the video, he admits, are obviously “cherrypicked,” as in, Wikipedia relays to us:
the act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position. . . . Cherry picking can be found in many logical fallacies.
One suspects Weiss did not fully intend to confess all he does here, but then he is no more careful a writer, and thus, thinker, than is Blumenthal. He twice refers to the “murderous” feelings of the idiots on camera, and while I am working from memory – it being so far impossible at this point to find more than snippets of the video for review – and though I recall, of course, obviously, much in the manner of the stupid and self-demeaning, I have no recollection of the “murderous.” But this is the carelessness, the irresponsibility, the hatefulness of Mondoweiss.
When they are gathered in the hall … it seems like a plenary gathering in the Former Soviet Union. On the stage are the Politburo, 40 or 50 people at tables, most of them old and rich, with name cards in front of them, all revered by the people in the room. The people on the stage establish the new line. The degree of variation from that line will be minimal; the famous Jewish idea that if you have two Jews, you will have three opinions, does not hold here. For the entire conference is psychically built on one issue—Jewish survival—and on questions of Jewish survival, Jews defer to their leaders, as the Torah shows. There is utter orthodoxy. As I came into the hall for the Shimon Peres speech, two Jewish women (Rae Abileah and Medea Benjamin) were being dragged out kicking and screaming. Their opinions on Gaza were not welcome. The next day when two women interrupted Joe Biden’s speech, the whole conference rose as one to applaud and drown them out. Very Brezhnev.
When one considers the thought and writing of Mondoweiss, it is impossible not to keep returning to adjectives like dishonest and disingenuous. The search for synonyms in order to avoid monotonous drone becomes tiresome. Weiss knows full well that the purpose of the AIPAC policy conference is not to admit debate from ideologically antagonistic interlocutors, anymore than it is the purpose of the Democratic or Republican Party conventions to invite their opposites from the floor on such matters as abortion or gay marriage. Anymore than it is the purpose of the NRA annual convention to debate, in ceremonial assembly, with representatives of The Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, or for attendees at a Planned Parenthood conference to be denounced at the dais as baby killers. Or at the AIPAC, again, to enter into discussion with CODEPINK activists hoisting banners that read “No Money for War Crimes.” These are all, Weiss knows, organizations of the generally like-minded, who discuss their differences, usually, amongst themselves and not in public with those who despise them and pretend to be seeking honest dialogue. But Weiss, like Blumenthal, is a merry agitprop prankster, for whom the essence of good political street theater is a story line of engagement sought, culminating in a well-plotted climax of disruptive embarrassment, preferably requiring the use of security personnel for maximum repressive affect. Then Weiss may seek to regale readers with totalitarian comparisons. (Fascist? Communist? Whatever.) How very, may I say, Socialist Worker Party of him. But that would be so unfair of me, shallow and juvenile, like calling the faculty advisor of that high school newspaper – who won’t go for the dungy scentorama – a dictator.
The torment at the heart of my writing here is that I grew up in tribal ways; and I recognized that woman [a Holocaust survivor] as an older Jew like my parents and my parents’ friends—in fact I even ran into one of my parents’ friends there!–and the basis of my napkin-biting moment is that AIPAC brought me home to this identification. I put aside my assimilationist feelings, my intermarried goyim-loving feelings, and got back to the fact that this is the community I was raised in and love and have grown out of but still love; and I am not going to be deracinated.
Hm. One can fill in the blanks of this story in a multitude of ways, but we recognize an outline. A pressing question, too, is – who is it, exactly, who is deracinating Weiss? Even he treats the matter ambiguously. And in this confusion of identity, the Jew in fear of his own deracination reaches for the fat on the flanken: he reasserts himself as a member of the “tribe.” From goyim-loving assimilation he dives now straight into the schmaltz. Soon he’ll be longing to sit down with the whole mishpucha.
The Hebrew sounds as bad in Miriam’s ear as German did back in the 50s, when people hated the Germans.
Emily and I go out on West End Avenue, and a blonde mother goes by with two kids. I hear her talking Hebrew and I feel anger toward her. The kids are in cute outfits. They must have some money to live in this neighborhood. I think about all the seculars who are leaving Israel, and why they don’t speak out against a basic Zionist principle: the necessity of the Jewish state.
We stop on Broadway for a drink. Emily’s from Pennsylvania. She’s not Jewish. She tells me she’s been having a hard time since she got back, trying to come to terms with the monstrousness of what she saw. It keeps her up at night. Finally she made a date in July to speak about the issue at the local coffee shop, and she has an appointment with the legislative assistant to her congressman. His name sounds Jewish. I feel anger at him, and give her suggestions of what to say to the guy.
I used to get in screaming matches at dinner parties about The Subject. . . . I have alienated myself from my peers over this issue. They don’t want to hear. But I don’t know that I can blame them entirely. I seem to have found this spot, of righteous and critical distance. I suppose I had it in my family, too. I really need to take responsibility for my own anger.
A lot is going through my head. At the meeting, Jane said that one problem with our issue is that, Like it or not, it’s going to draw anti-Semites. They show up at lectures and talks. She’s right. I’ve met anti-Semites cloaked in their righteous criticism. I saw anti-Jewish hatred in Gaza, where they paint dustbins with the Star of David. I’ve felt that hatred of Israel myself. When you see the monstrosities of Gaza, you can’t help but feel hatred.
A friend at the meeting said that Hamas only fires rockets to get attention to the siege, which would never command world attention anyway. I know this is true, but. It isn’t like there hasn’t been violent murderous rage on our side of this struggle for a long time.
The situation is built around an edifice of rage. Ever since I got back, I keep wondering what if the Palestinians accepted. Accepted everything and anything for a state, sought the whole world’s good opinion by acceptance. Now they have 90 percent of the good opinion, but they don’t have Washington or Establishment Jews yet. What if Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, who met with them and talked with them about the west, convinced them to take another step of acceptance so that the students could get out of the territory? And forget about all the Green Lines and 1948, and the old stories. Just accept. And lo, there was a mini-state, or a bantustan, and peace and a civil rights struggle. Then maybe Israel would collapse. The hatred and animosity would disappear and so would the reason to be there. They would all move to West End Avenue.
The threads here are several. The tribal heart-call of the AIPAC post seems clearly overwhelmed by what is emerging as an ethnic animus. Just to hear Hebrew, to hear a Jewish-sounding name, produces anger. There is recognition of the anti-Semitic appeal of his ideas, but rather than allow pause by this fact, Weiss voices understanding of the “hatred,” which he says you can’t help but feel. Then he ponders, in the spirit-tone of so many who become fatigued with hating and fighting and dying in irreconcilability, what if they just accepted? What if the Palestinians just accepted all that they have never been willing to accept in order to gain all that they have never had, a state of their own?
They talk about a two-state solution, and when that is achieved… Even Ahmadinejad, leader of the rejectionists throughout the region, said he supports a two-state solution. Nobody fools anybody.
With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.
In “Mr.Horowitz, tell us what you think of the two-state solution,” Adam Horowitz responds, “There is a short answer and a longer answer to this question. The short answer is that I don’t take a position on one state or two states. In the end I’m not invested in one end product, but in ending the conflict.” As is usually so with Mondoweiss, complete honesty is never available. First, for Horowitz – or for me, for that matter – not to take a position on a matter like the two-state solution is meaningless, is to be coy without any corresponding appeal. Neither Horowitz nor I have any say in the matter. We are not players in the decision making, however much Mondoweiss may preen in self-important fantasy, and so the basis for an interlocutor’s refraining from expressing an opinion on a core issue – that he may continue to play the role of honest broker, which, at any rate, Horowitz is not – does not apply. And besides, the longer answer is that the shorter answer is bullshit.
The longer answer gets to the real reason I think people tend to ask this question, especially if they’re confrontational: they are asking if I support a Jewish state. The simple answer is no.
Mondoweiss gained happy-making attention from the Blumenthal video. Its creators and contributors post on one of the most widely read blog sites, The Huffington Post. The influential Talking Points Memo, via it TPMCafe, now syndicates Mondoweiss’s posts. So what we are witnessing is a growing acceptance of its view that bears consideration.