For a people that are supposed to be so smart, we sure say a lot of stupid things.
I let most of them go. It’s just not worth the emotional energy to bother commenting on the amazing amount of idiotic things an amazing number of Jews say these days.
In the last little while, there have been some stupidities that I just can’t let go without saying something about them. I can’t let them go because they are so damaging to the spiritual soul of the Jewish people. A soul that seems to be eroding faster than at any time in our history, a soul too many self-righteous Jews have been very quick to sell.
Let’s dismiss one quickly because the one who said it will in hindsight be seen to be a pisher we spent way too much time listening to. Prince Jared Kushner, whose only accomplishments in life have been to be born into a wealthy family and to marry into a wealthy family, who has covered up a murder to curry favor with the Saudi crown prince who ordered it, and who will soon present us with the greatest ever Middle East peace plan the world has ever seen.
Anyway, the Mueller report, as did all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, came to the conclusion that the Russian government engaged in “sweeping and systematic interference” in the 2016 election. Argue all you want about Trump’s role in all that but one thing is clear — the Russians in lots of ways did lots of things to mess with our election. Mueller documents them in detail in his 448 page report.
And yet when asked recently to comment on the Russian interference, Prince Jared said all it involved was ‘buying a couple Facebook ads.”
Not only is saying that the height of stupidity, but what really worries me is that I really believe he believes that. This the guy who is going to find the magic solution to bring Middle East peace.
Next. I was actually stunned when I listened to what Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said during the recent commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day at a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol organized by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a very solemn occasion, I’d even call it a holy occasion, and so one in which the words of Israel’s representative to this country are looked to to inspire, be full of meaning and Jewishness. But in the best tradition of Trump, Dermer used the occasion not only to rip the New York Times but to use incredibly stupid language to do so.
As one expert put it, “It was an unusually political attack on a day and at an event organized by an institution that generally focuses on the historical meaning of the Holocaust.”
But ignoring the solemnity of the day, Dermer said, “We have seen one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers become a cesspool of hostility towards Israel that goes well beyond any legitimate criticism of a fellow, imperfect democracy.” He added that the paper has “made its pages a safe space for those who hate the Jewish state. Through biased coverage, slanderous columns and anti-Semitic cartoons, its editors shamefully choose week after week to cast the Jewish state as a force for evil.”
That is the most outrageous, most inaccurate, most disgusting paragraph I have ever read. A cesspool of hostility towards Israel, a safe space for those who hate the Jewish state, its editors casting the Jewish state as a force for evil.
He is insane. Truly, he needs to be institutionalized. Now yes, I am a journalist and so yes, I am sensitive about this. But the fact is that it’s one thing, as most Jews do, to think the media is out to get us, which it is not, but to use such over the top language, to make such a baseless, hateful, overblown, inflammatory, delusional observation is truly a danger to us.
For it misleads us, it makes us not only not believe a trusted source of news, one that day in and day out is filled with positive Jewish stories, but it makes us feel attacked, makes us think one of the country’s most important institutions is just a Jew hating operation. That is simply not true. If truth, which Jews have always held dear, matters anymore.
What I found so insidious and so disgusting is that Dermer mentioned “anti-Semitic cartoons,” plural, as if there a whole bunch of them all the time in the Times. It was a clever if demagogic and cynical twisting of the reality that yes, the Times did recently publish an anti-Semitic cartoon, singular, depicting Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a yarmulke-clad Trump.
Yes, that was wrong, yes, that was anti-Semitic. But there are a whole lot of facts to consider before calling the most prestigious newspaper in the world a safe space for those who hate the Jewish state.
First what happened was not anti-Semitic or malicious, but human error. The cartoon, which only appeared in the international edition of the Times, got into that paper because only one editor was on duty and on a tight deadline, and so he grabbed a syndicated cartoon that was handy. So many Jews are so quick to accuse the media without considering that it is but human beings doing their best under enormous pressure. Okay, no point in saying that because Jews can’t handle the truth.
So let’s look at how the Times responded after that cartoon appeared. The paper issued not one but two apologies, saying it was “deeply sorry.” Then it published an op-ed by one of its most prominent columnists, who is a Jew. raking it over the coals for what it did. Brett Stephens excoriated his newspaper for “an astonishing act of ignorance of anti-Semitism.” Stephens said the paper should apologize to Netanyahu.
But Stephens added: “I have now been with The Times for two years and I’m certain that the charge that the institution is in any way anti-Semitic is a calumny.”
The Times then published an editorial calling itself to task for the mistake it made. Then it disciplined the editor who put the cartoon in the paper. Then it changed a whole bunch of its procedures, from never again allowing only one editor to approve a cartoon, to no longer using syndicated cartoons, to providing training to its editors to make them more sensitive to what are anti-Semitic tropes.
Talk about doing tshuva. Look at how the supposedly evil New York Times totally took responsibility for what it did, apologized for what it did, published articles criticizing itself for what it did and doing all kinds of things to ensure such a thing doesn’t happen again. How many Jewish publications on the right wing politically and religiously ever take responsibility for the unfair, biased, hateful garbage they so often print?
I thought what Dermer said was perhaps the stupidest thing I had ever heard, but then I heard what the rabbi of the Poway shul had to say.
Just days after a white supremacist walked into his shul and started shooting, the rabbi was at the White House meeting with Trump, who has inspired, by his words and deeds, white supremacists to feel free to act on their hate.
And this is what the Poway rabbi said about Trump. He called him a “mensch par excellence.” Now even those who love Trump, love that he’s moved the embassy and killed the Iran deal, would admit he’s no mensch, let alone a mensch par excellence. He’s someone who said he had the right to grab women by their private parts, he cheated on his wife with a porn star, and he has, so far, told 10,000 public lies as president.
As I say, like him for his policies if you want, but for a rabbi who has been given moral authority because of what he went through, to call Trump a mensch par excellence is to show how often rabbis are not moral leaders, say stupid things.
But you know, it’s one thing to say something stupid which does spiritual damage to the Jewish people, it’s another to say stupid things that make people sick, indeed even lead to people dying.
This country’s leading super Orthodox organization has at its top a group of 10 senior rabbis who are its spiritual guides and highest council on Jewish law. Three of those rabbis don’t believe in kids getting vaccinated, indeed the rabbi who is considered the holiest of them all has called vaccinations a “hoax.”
A lot of Jews listen to such stupidity, take it very seriously, see it as authoritative Jewish law. And so a lot of them have stopped vaccinating their kids. As a result, an El Al flight attendant was hospitalized after contracting a serious case of measles on a flight from Tel Aviv to New York. She is unconscious and on a respirator. A passenger boarded the flight while sick with the virus. The Jerusalem Post has reported that Israel has seen a serious outbreak of measles in recent months, mostly due to lower than average vaccination rates in the haredi Orthodox community. Two Israelis — an 18-month-old baby and an 82-year-old woman — have died from the disease.
Haredi communities in New York also have experienced measles outbreaks, and have low vaccination rates. Indeed just recently, New York City officials have closed two religious Jewish schools in Brooklyn for failing to comply with Health Department orders regarding the measles outbreak.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a health emergency and ordered unvaccinated people living or working in four ZIP codes in the largely haredi Orthodox-populated Williamsburg neighborhood to get the vaccine. 423 cases of measles have been confirmed in New York since the beginning of the outbreak in October, with 348 of the cases in Williamsburg, according to Yeshiva World News.
The New York Times is a cesspool of hostility towards Israel, Trump is a mensch par excellence and vaccinations are a hoax. We may be the Chosen People, but increasingly we are very much the Stupid People.