In this era of post modernism and abandonment of traditional moral values, our capacity to inflict harm on ourselves seems to be at an all-time high. Whether in the entertainment industry, the media or the political arena, increasing numbers of “emancipated” Jews worship nihilism and vulgarity and bring the Jewish people and Israel into disrepute.
I will start with an article published in Israel last week in our illustrious “highbrow” daily newspaper Haaretz by Josh Lambert, author of the book, ‘Unclean Lips, Obscenity and Jewish Culture’. Lambert explicitly congratulates and extolls Jews for “asserting their Jewishness by glorifying obscenity” “in order to fight anti-Semitism” or “rewrite traditional Jewish stories in a contemporary idiom”.
Please reread the preceding paragraph. They are direct quotations. Lambert goes further, dismissing any Jews opposed to pornography “as only comprising very marginal rabbis and other Jewish crackpots”.
His role model is the American comedienne Sarah Silverman who has risen to fame by shocking audiences with crass vulgarity and taboo language, often with Jewish connotations. She takes pride in describing herself as a “dirty Jew”. In a current video act in which she mockingly discusses reproductive rights with ‘Jesus’, Silverman has him refer to himself as “Jesus f**** Christ” and incorporates other crudities.
Vulgarity is an absolute affront to Judaism. Moreover, were such an obscene satire to target Jews – our reaction would justly be ballistic.
As a people persecuted throughout the ages, surely we should be extra sensitive to avoid offending other religions. In this case, Silverman is targeting the evangelicals, most of whom are genuine friends of the Jewish people and deeply devoted to the welfare and security of Israel. Lambert actually praises Silverman for opposing “the nation’s most powerful socially, religiously and politically reactionary movement.” Must we mock and degrade the few friends we have? Jews who endorse such obscene insults and are contemptuous of other people’s religious sensitivities are utterly shameful.
We are told that Silverman is a great performer and delights audiences. So what! Without bracketing or comparing her to the notorious French comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, his popularity in no manner mitigates the foul anti-Semitic content and offensiveness of his performances.
Needless to say, had a similar obscene satire about Mohammed been performed, global riots and bloodshed would have ensued. Ironically, the harshest condemnations of Islamophobia would probably emanate from those same people who applaud besmirching Christians.
Analogies can be made with Jews in the political world engaged in disgusting behavior who also inflict serious damage.
On January 23, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) invited newly elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to address a gala reception at which the media was excluded. However a recording of de Blasio’s remarks was leaked and published.
De Blasio, an ardent Democrat considered left of center is a long-standing, committed friend of Israel and made what can be regarded as a motherhood and apple pie address to the gathering.
He spoke passionately of his love of Israel and the common values that Israel shares with America such as “belief in democracy and open discourse”. Like his mayoral predecessors, he considered “part of his obligation as Mayor to be a defender of Israel… not to maintain, but to strengthen the alliance,” saying there was “no greater ally on earth for America than Israel”.
He also spoke of the dangers facing Israel from the repressive Iranian regime and suggested that Saudi Arabian Airlines be banned from US airports because of its discrimination of Israeli citizens.
De Blasio praised AIPAC and stated, “When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call, and I will answer it happily, because that’s my job”.
However his address outraged some of New York’s far left Jewish glitterati. They obtained the signatures of 58 “pro-peace pro-Israel” artists, professors, rabbis and community leaders to pen a vitriolic open letter condemning the mayor which was released to the media. Amongst the signatories was “pro-Israel” author Peter Beinart, Karen Adler, President of the Jewish Communal Fund, feminists Letty Pogrebin and Gloria Steinem, Rabbi Rolando Matalon of B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue and Burton Visotzky of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
The malicious letter castigated Mayor De Blasio for supporting AIPAC. It alleged that “AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hardline government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us… your job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding when they call you to do so”.
Yet, De Blasio spoke in broad terms of support for Israel and in no way related to right or left wing Israeli politics.
AIPAC is the principal organization in the United States promoting the case for Israel – irrespective of which party is heading the government – and, despite enormous challenges and obstacles, has succeeded beyond all expectations. Aside from that, AIPAC has always striven to be bipartisan and is in fact largely dominated by Democrats. Its bona-fides were never challenged until J Street initiated a campaign to besmirch and portray it, falsely, as an extreme right wing body. However, this failed to affect AIPAC’s standing as American Jewry’s most effective supporter of Israel.
The unbridled attack against the newly-elected mayor –in effect an assault against AIPAC – at a time when Israel is under such enormous pressure from those seeking its destruction, can only be described as perfidious.
It was given prominent and enthusiastic coverage in the “liberal” media with the New York Times publishing a major anti- AIPAC article misleadingly titled “Pro-Israel Group Finds its Momentum Blunted”.
The chutzpa of these self-appointed “pro-peace pro-Israel” guardians of Israel can be attributed to the former willingness of the many Jewish leaders to welcome into the “big tent” groups hostile to Israel. This legitimized and encouraged them to portray their antagonism to Israeli policies as representing a mainstream view.
Anti-Israel bodies also sought to infiltrate other areas of the mainstream. There were debates on whether supporters of the repugnant BDS should be entitled to remain within the organized Jewish framework and even be provided platforms from which to promote their views. Similar issues are being raised by fringe groups at federations, in Hillel branches, synagogues and community centers.
Most Jewish leaders, albeit somewhat belatedly, have now recognized the need for red lines to be drawn and that there can be no “compromise” or tolerance within the mainstream for groups engaged in BDS or actively campaigning to undermine Israel.
The self-hating Jewish forces operating against the Jewish people and Israel are primarily fringe groups. But they have the enthusiastic support of the anti-Israeli media which provides them with disproportionate exposure. It is thus important that the public is made aware that these views are held in utter contempt by the vast majority of committed Jews who strongly support Israel during these difficult times.
One is tempted to ask, with Jews behaving in such a repugnant manner, who needs enemies?
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom