Monday, June 8, 2009

Mondoweiss Agitprop

There's a lot of talk swirling around the blogosphere about a short video Max Blumenthal made last week in Jerusalem. Blumenthal purportedly wandered through downtown Jerusalem last week, the evening before Obama's Cairo speech, and recorded the sentiments of folks; the result he found and shows is that Jerusalemites have an obscene hatred of Obama the Nigger.

There's been a lot of discussion about how it's unfair to line up some inebriated teenagers (especially American ones who aren't allowed to buy liquor at home but can do so in Israel) and attribute their idiocy to Vox Populi; people who don't like Israel have countered by saying that what people say when they've drunk too much is indicative of what they think but don't say when they're sober (I agree on this, by the way).

My contribution to the discussion, if a discussion it is, is that Blumenthal's collection of interviewees is – at best – odd. He says he wandered through downtown, yet the video is made at two places only. One, Rivlin street, is the haunt of the American one-year-students crowd, though you can find tipsy European tourists there also, and of course some local Israelis. It's one block long, the whole street. The second place was Jaffa street near Ben Yehuda – indeed, the center of town – about a block away from Rivlin. And the whole time Blumenthal's camera was on, he never saw even one single Israeli? How likely is that?

Say you're interviewing the locals at Time Square about some matter, so as to figure out what Americans think. Inevitably, you'll come across a lot of tourists, it being Time Square, but what are the chances you'll find not a single card-carrying American? And if that happens, and you then post your video to Youtube to castigate America, what does that tell us about you?

I've been eying the folks at Mondoweiss for a while, wondering if they're worth some closer analysis; maybe they are, instead of Glenn Greenwald who is proving uninteresting for my purposes.


Anonymous said...

what people say when they've drunk too much is indicative of what they think but don't say when they're sober (I agree on this, by the way).

I am not so sure ...

the wish to be accepted by a group, to be loved and be "one of them" becomes very strong, when one drinks together while the ability to get shocked by terrible behaviour diminishes -
I at least have once been jumping up and down on a street yelling happily "HoHoHo Tchi Minh" with only the vaguest discomfort that I was yelling with the side I had severe doubts about.

... on the other hand I think the rule applies, if you are drinking happily one on one with somebody, then, if you are careless enough to let politics become a topic you may suddenly be listening to a sewer

the sad red earth said...

Yaacov, Mondoweiss is well worth your sustained attention. The site's posts are published at Huffington Post (though the post removed the Blumenthal video)and are now syndicated through Talking Points Memo. It's influence is growing. While its creators and correspondents couch much of their activity in responsiveness to current "conservative" Israeli policies and rightist trends, and to Palestinian suffering - all within the reasonable range of response - they all openly reveal their anti-Zionism. The true agenda. If you read co-creator Philip Weiss's account of his attendance at the May AIPAC conference his conflicted sense of Jewish identity is freely on display. And when you read Blumenthal's defense of his video, which as you point out muddies the identification of American Jewish kids with Israel, you see quite obviously that the agenda is not to disclose that there are vile, stupid, and ignorant Jews - American, in this case - just like any other people, but that this vile ignorance is the product of Zionism. One more anti-Semitism.

Anonymous said...

Well, Mondoweiss is for sure worth watching... Your point about wandering around on Time Square and NOT encountering a single American is well made; but even without any such comparisons, there was never a shred of a doubt that this video was interesting for one reason, and one reason only: because it was about drunken Jewish kids -- as we all know, drunken Dutch/British/French/German etc. kids are so much more civilized.

LB said...

Enough has been said about how this agitprop, ridiculous, unrepresentative (btw, one of the video's makers initially insisted that "all but 2" were Israeli citizens).

However, I did have a slightly different point. You ask: "the whole time Blumenthal's camera was on, he never saw even one single Israeli? How likely is that?" Actually, it is rather likely. That area has become so much of an "American area" (so much so that there are even English names to one of the squares there with no Hebrew counterpart), that Israeli business - bars/restaurants mostly - have been "pushed" further east (on Shlomzion and then north on Hillel).

In any case, this does not exculpate them. One of the "videographers" lives in Israel, is American-born, so he knew where he was and who was going to be there.

4infidels said...

I posted this in response to the video:

Why didn't you interview non-American Israelis or at least a broader cross-section of Israelis? Why did you limit yourself to two mostly American locations? Is it because you knew you wouldn't get the outcome you desired in other parts of Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv, Haifa or elsewhere?

Since 78 percent of American Jews voted for Obama, it is hard to think that these kids are representative in any way of the majority of American Jews. Every group and every nation has its bigots. What distinguishes both Israel and the American Jewish community from their Muslim counterparts is that the government is not officially sanctioning hatred, it isn't being taught in schools and preached in religious services and isn't the widespread view on the street, despite what you are attempting to prove in your video. Hatred in any form is unacceptable. But disagreeing with Obama's Middle East policies and voicing criticism of his approach is no more hateful than voicing criticism of Israeli policies even though that criticism is often unfair, factually inaccurate and out of any proportion to the criticism of other countries in the region.

Anonymous said...

My name is zev.I was kicked out of the same school that those 4 attended, this past year. The blonde one was my roomate. I was expelled for getting into a fist fight with him and one other kid. I am now a premed student. These kids opinions mean nothing. I don't even understand why this has made such a big deal. These kids are by most definitions alcoholics, and substance abusers. Most of them did not complete high school , and are a disgrace to their familys and communities. They're opinions do not represent anyones but their own.