Friday, June 05, 2009

Americans in Jerusalem

They sure don't like Obama:

Question remains, how representative are they, the clip is only 3:48 minutes long after all.

Joseph Dana, who shot the interviews with his friend Max Blumenthal, wrote:
It’s about entitlement, stupid.

Max and I went on to the streets of Jerusalem at ten o’clock 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 not filled with native Israelis but American Jews. Doubtlessly anyone who has visited Jerusalem has encountered the droves of American Jewish kids that are sent to Israel to study for a period of time from Teaneck or Westchester. We asked people a simple question, “What do you think of Obama and Israel?” Most of the people that we talked to were dual American Israeli citizens. The answers in this video reflect the education and worrisome perspectives that many American Jews harbor towards Israeli politics. The sense of entitlement that the American Jewish community has when it comes to Israeli policy is on full raw display in the words of these young adults.

Based on our interviews these people were from high socio economic backgrounds and had developed thoughts about current Israeli politics. The question is why more journalists are not covering this story. All you have to do is walk the streets of Jerusalem and you will find dozens of people that harbor the same beliefs. As a resident of Jerusalem, I can say that the people represented in this video are not members of a fringe group or simply drunk college kids. These people reflect the sentiments shared by many people in this country and this city. These people and their families are the core of the opposition to meaningful peace between Israel and her neighbors. This is what Obama is up against.

Representative or not, I can't help but wonder what the Occupied must feel when they see this kind of Occupiers in action...


At 2:41 PM, Blogger Alex Stein said...

This is what I wrote to Joseph -

not sure what you aim to show with this video. It's hardly difficult to get drunk Americans with deep personal problems to say awful things on a Thursday night. I'd say about 90% of the people you interviewed were American-Jews (and not Israelis), while the others were messianists (you point this out in the commentary, Blumenthal seems to imply that they are Israelis). Imagine if someone did a similar exercise in Gaza. It's also absurd to say they had developed views on Israeli politics - one of the girls didn't even know who Netanyahu was. You yourself acknowledge that they are mainly short-term visitors from the States, but then go on to say that they are somehow typical. Well, maybe in Jerusalem, although there are lots of dissenting views as well. The rest of the country, however, is somewhat more nuanced.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Well, make sure you publish any reply either here or at Falsedi.

"[...] Americans with deep personal problems"

And you know this, how? You see, call me anti-American but young, loud, bashful, racist Americans aren't hard to find in the blogosphere. These are also the people that sell T-shirts, mugs or coasters with 'Nuke Iran!' on them, ferchrissake! 'Deep personal problems'?... or an inflated self-image?

You can diminish all you want but like the people in Max's previous video also exist, as do the few fanatics I quoted over at Harry's Place (and got banned for it).

Most Zionists (but not you) love nothing better that to point to extremism (past, present or future) on the Arab side. Seems to me they're good at dishing it, not so good at taking it.

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

These guys are totally representative, but not of young Jewish Americans (who, as this poll shows, overwhelmingly support Obama) or of Israeli Jews.

I wonder whether those schmucks are here as exchange students or are studying in Yeshivas. Other than the woman who said she's a political science major, the others seem more like Yeshiva boys (though I could be wrong). That's the group they represent.

At 12:16 AM, Blogger LB said...

Gert- the point is that whether or not there is extremism among any inhabitants of the Middle East - this video did not show it. So saying this is what Israel is, and this is what the settlements are (was this filmed in a settlement?) is misleading and disingenuous. This is what Dana said on Twitter and on comments on his blog.

I commented on his blog, respectfully disagreeing, and showing him why he was wrong in his obstinacy that the interviewees are Israeli. I remained calm and never "spread lies" or attacked anyone (as he claims). He got exasperated, said he closed the comments because he did want to engage with me any longer and DELETED all the comments. That is a cowardly move that shows the truth is clearly his goal. Not allowing a comment in the first place is one thing - but deleting them??

The video is titled "Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem" - but except for 2, MAYBE 3 (the Hassid and the most normal teen there(maybe), and the incomprehensible guy at the end) - none of them are from Jerusalem.

The video was all filmed with a couple blocks (from the corner of Hillel and Rivlin up to Zion Square, for those interested), an area of Jerusalem very well-known Jerusalem area for drunk idiots from abroad who come to spend their parents' money for a year.

There are many ways to criticize, expose, whatever - but to film this, pass it off as representative of Israel (which only later was changed to representative of American Jews - but the title of the video is still the same) is not the way to do it.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Gert said...


While I appreciate your comment and points made, this:

"So saying this is what Israel is, and this is what the settlements are (was this filmed in a settlement?) is misleading and disingenuous."

is a false premise. Of course this wasn't filmed in a settlement and the interviewees aren't settlers. The video doesn't claim these people are representative of settlements or settlers either.

I think the hate of Obama and their general stupidity they display and make this blogworthy though...

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Max Blumenthal and F.E.Felson defend the video here.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger LB said...

Gert, I didn't back it up, you're right. While I do not have my comments to his post (since they were deleted), I do have his (I was subscribed by email to comments on that post) his first comment in response to me included this line: "It is hard to swallow but this is reality. Go to the settlements, walk around Jerusalem and ask people what they think about the conflict and Obama." And on twitter he referred to one as a settler, too.

I read the link to Blumenthal's defense and it's not really a defense. There is no proof in this video of any ISRAELI racism. "I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that the basic the video...are products of the same culture...that has given rise to Lieberman." Let's assume for a second he's right. The video does not showcase these attitudes among anyone that "gave rise to Lieberman."

In any case "I think the hate of Obama and their general stupidity they display and make this blogworthy though..."

Absolutely, but the problem is with the presentation more than anything. If they want to portray the attitudes of Americans on various educational programs in Israel - then it would be much more valid.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger LB said...

It IS a big difference, actually. To present the attitudes of Israelis one must quote/tape/record Israelis. Not Americans and then just say it's all the same without backing it up (which is what they did).

The video was presented as portraying "Hate in Jerusalem." That's my only point here, really - that the makers of the video are passing it off as representative of Jerusalem. If they want to represent Israelis - then do it. The way it was done is very dishonest, that's all.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger The Sentinel said...

They all just seemed to be drunken American kids, the sort of gathering you'd find at springbreak; I doubt most of them even knew what they were saying or remembered it in the morning.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Do you, when drunk, say things you previously didn't believe in at all? Only near unconscious would you vent views you previously didn't hold. These weren't blind drunk, not by along shot. Sociably drunk, yet but not comatose...

In vino veritas...

At 6:24 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Sentinel, the problem with the video isn't the fact that they're drunk, but the fact that it's being used as proof of a trend. These guys are racists when they're sober, too.

What Max Blumenthal did was like claiming that all Australian-Americans are anti-Semites because of Mel Gibson's drunken tirade.

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Sorry, Emm, but now it's you that's over-simplifying. Read for instance Blumenthal's and Dana's defenses of the videos, over at Mondoweiss.

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

I read them and replied (and somehow even got into a weird debate about whether or not I'm a Nazi, but I digress).

Lieberman's rise is troubling, but his power still needs to be taken in proportion. He got 10% of the votes of those who bothered to show up on election day, meaning that his support among the general population is even lower. Also, some of those who voted for him voted so not out of racism but either because of his stance on issues like civil marriage or as a protest vote. I'm not sure against what though. One guy I know said he voted for Lieberman in protest, and when I asked against what he said something general about the situation and what he sees as the lack of difference between Likud, Labor and Kadima.

The biggest test for Israeli society will be the next elections. We'll see if Yisrael Beitenu will go the way of other parties that peaked at 15 seats and then disappeard at the next election, or if it maintains its power or gets even stronger.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger The Sentinel said...

I don't know really; I suppose your right; I just thought they seemed to be drunken youngster showing off to the camerea, but I guess drunk or not it must come from somwhere.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Neither alcohol nor any other substance imbibes the consumer with 'views', 'knowledge' or 'opinion', that's simply physically impossible.

So-called 'mind-altering substances' generally decrease inhibitions but nothing else.


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