Oh, Heeb Magazine, enough with the “subversive” Nazi jokes already.
Archive for February, 2012
I am not one to bash the New York Times, but sometimes it seems to go out of the way to goad critics who insist it is anti-Israel.
Reporting the extremely sad news that its Middle East correspondent Anthony Shadid had died at 43 from an apparent asthma attack — while on covert assignment in Syria, no less — the Times concluded its obit with this example of Shadid’s “penchant for elegiac prose,” an account of an Israeli assault in Lebanon in 2006:
“Some suffering cannot be covered in words,” he wrote. “This had become my daily fare as reporter in the Middle East documenting war, its survivors and fatalities, and the many who seem a little of both. In the Lebanese town of Qana, where Israeli bombs caught their victims in the midst of a morning’s work, we saw the dead standing, sitting, looking around. The village, its voices and stories, plates and bowls, letters and words, its history, had been obliterated in a few extended moments that splintered a quiet morning.”
It’s a horrifying account, and I don’t doubt its veracity. Plus it comes from a forthcoming book, so it is timely. But it is either strange or telling that in an appreciation of a reporter who covered conflict throughout the Middle East, much of it Arab vs. Arab strife and civil war, the one example of his prose is an account of an Israeli attack on Arabs.
The NY Times’ new Jerusalem bureau chief is already facing scrutiny from Israel watchers, and she is muffing it.
In the latest development, Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon asks Jodi Rudoren if she’s a Zionist. As Jeffrey Goldberg points out, it’s a stupid question. (“I don’t want Rudoren to be a Zionist, or an anti-Zionist, or anything else,” writes Goldberg. “I just want her to report accurately what she sees.”)
ButRudoren’s answer is even worse. It starts out strong:
Asked point-blank if she considers herself a Zionist, Rudoren demurred.
“I describe myself as a journalist. I don’t describe myself in political terms on any subject,” she said. “I see my role in the world as an observer of what’s going on, so I don’t take on labels that have, sort of, ideological or just activist positions.”
She should have stopped there. (In fact, she should have stopped after “I describe myself as a journalist. ” It’s what any journalist should say, whether the question is “are you an atheist?” or “are you pro-life?”)
But Rudoren doesn’t stop there:
Rudoren added: “I don’t know that I’ve ever described myself as a Zionist in the past. I certainly think that right now in my job, and where Zionism is a subject of discussion, I don’t have any interest in being one or not being one. I’m not a Zionist or anti-Zionist.”
I get what she’s saying, but it’s too much sharing for someone starting one of the most sensitive and scrutinized beats in journalism. If I were her boss I’d be tearing my hair out.
Another strike against her is that she tweeted Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, an anti-Israel Website, saying she heard “good things” about him.
The truth is we all suck up to potential sources, even the ones we revile. (“Oh hi, Rabbi Kahane. I read your oped in the Jewish Press about your plans to run for the Knesset. Very enlightening. Now can we talk about your call for the expulsion of Israeli Arabs?”) The problem is she did it on Twitter, instead of in a cloying phone call.
This is a sticky beat to begin with, and not to have a sense of how to finesse it coming out of the gate is a terrible portent.
Short Hills Reform Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz joins an Episcopal bishop and an Evangelical Lutheran bishop in support of the gay marriage bill that Gov. Chris Christie has promised to veto:
Thanks to the wisdom of the First Amendment, differing theological notions about the nature of marriage will continue to flourish across our diverse religious landscape. But a state has neither the right nor the competence to promote one of those theological understandings in opposition to others — particularly when doing so deprives some citizens of the rights enjoyed by others.
The governor has said he is “not someone who changes positions with the grace of a ballerina.” Yet at the deepest level, no change is required. He has pledged to perform his duties “impartially and justly.” It is our prayer that the state’s legislators will find the wisdom to act with the same impartiality and justice.
Stephen Marche, a columnist at Esquire, is earning high praise for his New York TImes oped pointing out the hypocrisy of pro-Palestinian activists who are calling for a boycott of an Israeli troupe’s performance of “The Merchant of Venice” during the London Olympiad.
Israel, uniquely among nations, suffers from being turned into a synecdoche — of the part being taken for the whole. The other theater companies involved in the Globe’s program — whether from China, Zimbabwe or the United States — are simply not subject to the same scrutiny of their nation’s politics. No one would think of boycotting the English theater because Britain had been involved in the bloody occupation of two countries in recent memory. That would be absurd. Yet it is not absurd when it comes to Israel.
I am not sure this is the devastating argument-winner that opponents of the anti-Israel boycott think it is.
First of all, why should the pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel crowd necessarily be interested in what goes on in China or Zimbabwe? If the boycott were being arranged by Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, the hypocrisy charge would stick. But the group in question, Boycott From Within, says it was founded “by Israeli activists.” They are entitled to their narrow interest the same way that, l’havdil, the Soviet Jewry movement focused on Soviet cultural exports and not apartheid in South Africa or segregation in the south.
And while it may be absurd to boycott an English theater because Britain had been involved in bloody occupations, would it be “absurd” for a Tibetan group to call for a boycott of a Chinese troupe? Would we be applauding an oped that condemned a Tibetan group’s anti-Chinese protest at the U.N.?
Because I do think the anti-Israel boycotts are odious, I’d be happy to have someone point out the flaws in my logic, and would welcome a counter argument to what I’ve written above.
In the meantime, I think there are a number of arguments that are more effective in combating BDS. Nearly all the proponents of BDS I’ve encountered are not “peace activists” and don’t seem interested in a just, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, “Boycott from Within” calls for:
a. putting an end to Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and to dismantling the Separation Wall; for
b. Israeli recognition of the fundamental right of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and for
c. Israeli respect, protection, and promotion of the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
That “all Arab lands,” combined with the endorsement of the Right of Return, is the tip-off. The BDS movement’s definition of justice for the Palestinians is the dissolution of a sovereign Jewish state in Palestine. Thus, their goal is not to pressure Israel on negotiations, but delegitimize it in the eyes of the world. When an Israeli leader like Ehud Barak invokes “apartheid,” he means that he worries that Israel will be in permanent control of a population that can’t vote or control its own destiny. When the BDS movement uses the term, they mean they want the solution that followed apartheid — one state, where the disenfranchised population is given all rights of citizenship in a single Palestine, from the “river to the sea.”
There are other reasons to oppose the BDS movement, but to me this is the strongest argument: The BDS movement is not out to remedy injustice or bring about a workable solution for all peoples. They are anti-Zionists who are struggling to first delegitimize, then ultimately dismantle, Israel.
Trenton-born filmmaker Zalman King, who died this month at age 70, is best known for writing and producing soft-core erotica like 9 ½ Weeks, Wild Orchid, and Showtime’s Red Shoe Diaries.
But King, born Zalman Lefkowitz, has another claim to fame. According to the New York Times, he was “the first overtly Jewish leading man in an American television series” when he played one of the title characters in “The Young Lawyers” on ABC from 1969 to 1971. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of hot-headed law student Aaron Silverman.
TV Guide once described King, the son of an orthodontist who owned dime stores, as the “veritable Elliott Gould of TV.”
I hate to pick on my friends at JTA, but today’s site has a house ad that is either a mistake or a list of the narrowest beats in the history of journalism:
I assume, this being a Jewish news service, that the answer to the last one is “none.”
Ah, the Giants. I only feel sad because there’s no game to look forward to next week. Big Blue’s improbable march to the championship was a great excuse to spend Sunday afternoons with the family (good luck getting the kids to agree to watch anything else I’m interested in). Now what will distract me from Iran, Syria, the moribund peace process, and the New York Mets?
That was my semi-serious point in a response to a reader who objected to our cover story in last week’s paper (at right). The reader wrote:
With all the horrors in the world today – bombed synagogues, Israel ready to attack Iran, unemployment, PACs – I was astounded to see the super bowl “Jews for Giants” on your front page. I stopped reading the Newark Star Ledger because of it’s inane articles. Now that you have descended to this type of nonsensical reporting I will have to add this paper to my don’t read in spite of my appreciation for the Andrew Silow-Carroll columns.
I appreciate your response to last week’s cover package and your praise for my columns. But in fact, with all the horrors in the world today, isn’t it important also to take a moment occasionally to focus on the fun and, yes, frivolous side of Jewish life? (more…)
Having seen and enjoyed “The Artist” this weekend, I am happy to share this piece of synchronicity, from Page Six:
Silent black-and-white film “The Artist,” an Oscar front-runner, began as a true passion project for producer Thomas Langmann and director Michel Hazanavicius. Langmann — son of French director Claude Berri — had to finance the project with his own money after no one would take a risk on it. He even sold a home and borrowed from relatives. “People would make weird faces,” Langmann has said about pitching the film, which has 10 Oscar nominations and won a best picture award at the Golden Globes. The producer and Hazanavicius found they shared an emotional connection when they met: Langmann’s father’s first movie, “The Two of Us,” told the story of a French-Jewish boy sent to the country to hide with an elderly couple. Hazanavicius’ parents were “hidden children” in France during World War II.
NJJN‘s Responsive Reading newsletter continues with debates over Newt’s ‘dog whistle’; the single-issue voter; and Orthodoxy’s rules for women. Subscribe here.
It’s time U.S. Jews spoke up about what’s important – and it’s not just Israel
By Yael Miller (Ha’aretz)
“Jewish Americans whose vote only depends on the candidate’s policies on Israel are doing the whole of the Jewish community grave harm,” writes Miller, a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Single-issue Jewish votes block discussion of important domestic issues, fulfill a “dangerous stereotype,” and sacrifice the community’s voice on other, non-Israel causes.
The Emerging Debate about “the Jewish Vote”
By Steven Windmueller (Jewish Journal)
It’s simply not true that American Jews are single-issue voters; Jewish voters “arrive at their decision based on an array of issues and political interests.” Polls show that Jews vote according to their interests in church-state issues, health policy, and economic matters. “If we are to truly understand voting behavior, we need to appreciate the various cohorts that define our community’s political base,” writes Windmueller. (more…)