American Jews Shaming Themselves in Jerusalem

I prepared this for France 24’s The Observers:

The night before Obama’s historic speech to the Muslim world, a shocking video from Jerusalem captures a group of drunken American Jews bashing President Obama with racial slurs and physical threats. Not surprisingly, the video, entitled “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem on the Eve of Obama’s Cairo Address”, has caused quite a stir. In just a few days it has garnered over 360,000 hits and thousands of passionate comments on YouTube – it has even gotten the attention of rapper 50 Cent.

Many have slammed the video for what they perceive is a gross misrepresentation: the suggestion that a small group of inebriated youths significantly represent Israeli and or Jewish American views on President Obama. Others argue – following the Latin proverb that what the sober man has in his heart, the drunkard has on his lips – that these youths represent (albeit crudely) the opinions of a growing minority of Israelis and Jews around the world. One of the video producers, and a critic, share their perspective with us.

Observer: Joseph Dana is an Israeli journalist and co-producer of the video “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem on the Eve of Obama’s Cairo Address.”

“Max and I went on to the streets of Jerusalem at 10pm on a Wednesday to ascertain the feelings of the young population about Obama’s upcoming speech in Cairo. As is often the case, the streets of central Jerusalem were full of American Jews, many of which have Israeli citizenship. We asked people a simple question: “What do you think of Obama and Israel?”

The answers that we received were shocking. I believe that the answers reflect a form of racism, often directed at Arabs, that floats under the surface in small circles in Israel. The majority of Israelis are progressive and desire peace but we have elements of extremism and hate that our population must address. One of our goals was to expose this small slice of rhetoric in Israel in the hopes that a dialogue about how to fix it would ensue.”

Observer: Lahav Harkov is an Israeli student in Political Science and author of a video response to Dana and Blumenthal’s “Feeling the Hate” video.

“Had the video shown Israelis speaking in this way, that would be one thing. To show Americans in Israel, most of which look to me like 18-year-olds on their gap year, and say that they represent the opinions of young Israelis, is absurd.

I wouldn’t even say that this reflects the views of most young Americans in Israel! Sure, sometimes we can get drunk and loud – anyone who’s been in downtown Jerusalem on a Saturday night can’t deny that. Of course, one also cannot deny that alcohol often makes people behave in a more extreme and belligerent manner, a fact that Blumenthal and Dana chose to ignore.

One of Israel’s biggest problems today is Hasbara [Public Relations], and young Jews like Dana and Blumenthal are only aggravating the problem. Too many Jewish people have forgotten what Israel has done for their people. Instead, they try to fit in with the American liberal intelligentsia. Never mind that most Arab countries do the exact opposite of what the American left is fighting for.

Israel is not perfect, and I see no problem in criticising the country when it’s justified. This video, however, is not a warranted criticism. I’d like to remind Blumenthal and Dana that this is Israel, not Iran; therefore, people can get drunk and express their opinions without fear of persecution, even when their opinion is the minority.

I made a video response to “Feeling the Hate” in Jerusalem. I asked some of my fellow students at Bar-Ilan University what they thought of Obama’s speech. Everyone in the video is a first or second year student in Political Science and\or Communications.

Not surprisingly, all of the students had different things to say. Some liked Obama more, some liked him less, but they all had complex opinions that were based on legitimate facts and ideas. Not one of them made a racist comment.

I think that this video shows how wrong Dana and Blumenthal are.”

The sequel to “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem on the Eve of Obama’s Cairo Address”. Max Blumenthal and Joseph Dana interview a group of peace warriors in Tel-Aviv. Lets call it “Feeling the Love in Tel-Aviv.

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2 responses to “American Jews Shaming Themselves in Jerusalem

  1. I do not agree with Lahav Harkov ‘s opinion :”I’d like to remind Blumenthal and Dana that this is Israel, not Iran; therefore, people can get drunk and express their opinions without fear of persecution, even when their opinion is the minority.”
    If they are afraid of something it is not of persecution but of other people, families and friends wathching their faces and listening their out loud messages of hate, racism and ignorance.

    Lahav, this people exist, they are real and we cannot ignore the cultural ignorance and racim that exist among them. We cannot finf a solution if we do not accept to see the problem.
    On the other hand, I beleive it is indispensable to separate THIS group from the whole. They do not represent all jews nor all american jews.

    But, I say it again: they do exist.

  2. Hi Roi,

    I had already watched the first video in Haaretz, and frankly I was shocked. There was on young lady, that claimed to be a political science’s student and she didn’t even know who Benjamin Netanyahu was: my God (and they have the Israeli citizenship? O-k-a-y).
    Another thing, was it a coincidence that after this video was viewed and commented by everybody the Holocaust Museum in Washington was attacked? Well, I do not believe in coincidences…so, those irresponsible kids should think about it.

    The second video: yes, that is in accordance to my view of the Israelis. They have a subjective opinion and present it in a logical and respectful way.

    People in any bar area, in the world, are loud and get drunk – but they do not vomit racist words. “In Vino Veritas”…while drunk, those kids spoke what they do not have the courage to say while sober.

    I agree with Harkov, when he says that those kids do not represent the Jewish Israeli youth, nevertheless they are Jewish and knowing what it means to be a Jew they should be ashamed of themselves.

    Now, let me visualise sequel:
    Interesting that it is as if Dana and Max are trying to say that the only Israelis that support Obama are the older people; and they seem to suggest that the youth when sober is coherent (i.e. they yield to the politically correct) and when intoxicated they are nasty (although they try to stress the fact that the basic opinion wouldn’t change). I am not even going to comment the fact that they always seem to manage to include a half-wit young lady…

    I get Dana’s and Max’s point of view though…they are controversial, I get that lol…

    Great article, Roi.

    Cheers

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