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.