Let me see now, what people are we, I know the answer, just give me a minute, it’ll come back to me. Oh yes, we are the Chosen People.
And let me see now, what are we supposed to be unto the nations, I know the answer, just give me a minute, it’ll come back to me. Oh yes, we are supposed to be a light unto the nations.
That’s it. The Chosen People. A light unto the nations.
It’s getting harder and harder to remember that. That’s because it seems each day’s news brings shame upon the Jews. Makes it seem impossible to believe we were chosen to be G-d’s people, considering how unG-dly we behave, makes it seem impossible to believe we are to be a light when we act so darkly.
And I mean each day’s news. That’s not an exaggeration or an overstatement. Virtually every day brings us news of Jews behaving badly.
You know I am old enough to remember a time that whenever we heard bad news about someone, we would hold our breaths and pray that that someone wouldn’t be Jewish. Please please, we would say to ourselves, don’t let them be a Jew.
And thankfully, appropriately, they usually were not Jewish. That was back in the golden age when to bring shanda, disgrace, upon your Jewish family or the Jewish people was pretty much the worse sin you could commit.
Indeed, I remember only twice when our prayers were not answered and, in fact, it was a Jew who did wrong. Problem is those two instances were biggies. The first was Jack Ruby, born Rubenstein, the nightclub owner from Chicago, who walked into a Dallas police station one November afternoon and shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the stomach, killing him and ensuring we would never ever know for sure if Oswald acted alone, why he did it, how he did it, the whole story. I still remember all these years later, the horror in my Chicago Jewish shtetl about how it was a Jew, Jack Rubenstein, who killed JFK’s killer.
The second big Jew in the big news was Monica Lewinsky, who didn’t act like a nice Jewish girl should. I know, we can debate forever in these metoo days about an older, powerful man taking advantage of a young intern, but the fact is that Monica seemed more than a willing participant, indeed seems to have been the instigator, showing the president her thong, making sure to be the one who brought him pizza when the government was shut down and the staff was skeleton. My point is not if Monica is to blame or if it’s all on Clinton, my point is when we heard what happened and prayed that ‘that woman’ would not be Jewish, she in fact was, with a very Jewish name to boot.
Anyway, my point is that those were the good old days when most of the Jews in the news were those who made us proud, Jews like Sandy Koufax and Dr. Jonas Salk. If a Jew was in the headlines, it was a source of nachas, of joy, for us.
And so contrast that with today when there is absolutely no expectation that when someone is in the news for bad reasons they won’t be Jewish. Today you’re far safer assuming they are Jewish.
Indeed, if you wanted to make a list of all the metoo creepy men, the list of those who are not Jewish would be much shorter than the list of those who are. It is amazing but true that though we make up only about two percent of the population of this country, Jews have made up about half, that’s 50 percent, of the prominent men shown to be sexual abusers, harassers, attackers.
And then you have Michael Cohen, who with each passing day, shows himself to be more of a goniff than we thought, more of a slimy guy than we could have imagined. And along with him is Jared Kushner, who has lied on government form after government form, somehow managed to forget 100 contacts with foreigners, has magically gotten almost a billion dollars in loans for his failing company after having White House meetings with the heads of banks and the leaders of Arab countries. The Jewish king of the swamp.
But how bad things have become for the people who it’s hard to remember why they were chosen and hard to remember when they saw the light, was really brought into sharp focus this week.
Indeed, how low our expectations have fallen, how used we have become to seeing a Jew in the bad news was shown when the sickening story came out about a guy in New York who was caught on video going off on a bigoted tirade against employees at a cafeteria. The minute I heard about the story, I just knew in my kishkes the guy was going to be a Jew.
There he was complaining in a Manhattan restaurant about two Hispanic female employees who were speaking Spanish to each other and a customer. He shouted at them, accused them of being illegal immigrants (without, it seems, any actual evidence) and threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) to have them arrested.
The name of this really rude, racist, disgusting, human being? Why Aaron Schlossberg, of course.
“Your staff is speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English,” Schlossberg said. “It’s America … And my guess is, they’re not documented. So my next call is to ICE to have each one of those kicked out of my country.”
Very chosen people behavior. Very light unto the nations behavior. And so in a video that went viral, the whole world could see a Jew, Aaron Schlossberg, acting like a crude thug.
Adding to the disgrace upon the Jews came when New Yorkers who hadn’t heard of Schlossberg could see a full-page photo of him on the cover of the New York Daily News, a leading tabloid, with the headline, “Jodete, idiota!” (Spanish for “screw you, idiot.”)
And, of course, once the first video went viral, others appeared, including one from 2016, of Schlossberg calling someone an “ugly f*cking foreigner.” (If it matters, the target is, in fact, a United States citizen.)
And the week just kept going from there. We had Harvey Weinstein resurface in a New York courthouse, reminding us that it was a Jew who is the face and essence of the creepy men movement, a Jew who symbolizes disgusting sexist behavior. There he was, with his Jewish lawyer Benjamin Bratman lying about how innocent Harvey is.
And the bad news kept coming.
As if there are not enough Jews already mixed up in the whole Russian collusion mess, both Russian Jews and American Jews, now we learned that special counsel Robert Mueller has sent investigators to Israel to uncover the activities of an Israeli-run social media firm that may have led a social media manipulation effort to help Donald Trump get elected.
The co-founder of the firm, identified as Joel Zamel, met in New York three months before the 2016 election with Donald Trump Jr., as well as with Lebanese-American businessman George Nader representing the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who he said wanted to help get his father elected. It is illegal for foreign governments or individuals to be involved in American elections.
And then we have Black Cube, which is based in Israel and made up mostly of former Mossad agents. We learned that aides to Trump allegedly contacted the Israeli private intelligence agency to dig up dirt on Obama officials in order to discredit the Iran nuclear deal Sources told The Guardian newspaper that officials linked to Trump contacted investigators days after the president visited Tel Aviv a year ago. During that trip, Trump promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran would never have nuclear weapons. The newspaper cited a source with details of the “dirty tricks campaign” who said “The idea was that people acting for Trump would discredit those who were pivotal in selling the deal, making it easier to pull out of it.”
But Black Cube was up to more sleazy stuff. Harvey Weinstein hired them to collect information on the women and journalists trying to expose allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him. Weinstein had Black Cube collect information on dozens of individuals and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focused on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein personally followed the progress of the investigation. Creepy Harvey working with creepy Black Cube.
According to its website, Black Cube offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units.” It is known for having close ties to current and former leaders in Israeli politics and intelligence.
All very chosen peopley, light unto the nationsy behavior.
Almost out of space so let’s finish with two things that happened just before I sat down to write this. One is that Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens resigned, both because of charges of sexual misconduct and of financial shenanigans. Good Jewish boy that he is, he was overachiever in scandals. There was the sexual — having an affair, even though he’s married, blackmailing his mistress; and the corruption, using a charity he ran to solicit political donations. Many thought Greitens had a good chance to be the country’s first Jewish president. Guess not.
And then we had Roseanne, who is Jewish and has talked about moving to Israel and running for prime minister. She lost her TV show when for all the world to see she used horribly disgusting racist language.
Another example of prominent Jews making the news big time for having done something shameful, really bad, very not Jewish. Though these days it seems that behavior like hers and Aaron Schlossberg’s and Eric Greitens’ and Black Cube’s and Harvey Weinstein’s is all too Jewish.
It really is getting harder and harder to remember what people it is we are again, and what we are to be unto the nations again.