Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Natural Interpretation

As Clive Bundy has made clear, there is no limit to how racist one's words can be while still being able to claim -- apparently with a straight face -- that it is entirely unreasonable to claim the words are racist. Over in the Netherlands, we have possibly the platonic ideal of that formulation as applied to Jews:
The rapper Ismo, whose real name is Ismael Houllich, included the text in his first single. The official video clip for the song titled “Eenmans” (or “One Man’s”) shows Ismo singing: “I hate those fucking Jews more than the Nazis,” “don’t shake hands with faggots” and “don’t believe in anything but the Koran.”

The clip, which was filmed in the southern border city of Breda, had received 125,000 viewers on YouTube before a 19-year-old homosexual resident of the city, Lars Hobma, filed a complaint with police against Ismo for alleged incitement to hatred, the news site of the Algemeen Dagblad daily reported Friday.

Hobma has received death threats on Facebook after filing the complaint, the daily reported.
In an interview for Omroep Brabant, a regional radio station, Ismo denied Hobma’s allegations.

“They are trying to twist my words against me,” he said. “I don’t hate all Jews. I hate only Zionist Jews that made Palestine smaller than my neighborhood.”

He added: “It all depends on how you interpret the song. By ‘faggots’ I didn’t mean homosexuals and by ‘Jews’ I didn’t mean all Jews. My fans realize that.”
One can't help but feel for Ismo. It's getting to the point where one can't even say "I hate those fucking Jews" without someone calling you an anti-Semite. What a ludicrous world we live in.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bitty Tent

This is disgraceful. Certainly, I don't agree with J Street on every issue. I have a lot of problems with them. But if the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations was only comprised of groups I agreed with in their entirety, it'd only have one member -- myself. And while that would be pretty cool, actually, it's no way to run a communal "big tent." There is nothing about J Street that puts it outside the mainstream of Jewish politics -- indeed, it is in many ways far more in tune with the American Jewish populace than, for example, ZOA is.

Honestly, it's an open question whether Jewish organizations can continue, in good faith, to remain members of the Conference. With this rejection, it is entirely unclear what purpose the Conference serves other than to calcify the power of an increasingly-irrelevant branch of Jewish society.

Update: Apparently Rabbi Rick Jacobs (head of the Union of Reform Judaism) reads this blog:
[M]any of us argued before and at the meeting, yesterday's debate was actually a referendum not on J Street but on the Conference of Presidents itself. As of yesterday, it is clear that the Conference of Presidents, as currently constituted and governed, no longer serves its vital purpose of providing a collective voice for the entire American Jewish pro-Israel community.

In the days ahead, Reform Movement leaders will be consulting with our partners within the Conference of Presidents to decide what our next steps will be. We may choose to advocate for a significant overhaul of the Conference of Presidents' processes. We may choose to simply leave the Conference of Presidents. But this much is certain: We will no longer acquiesce to simply maintaining the facade that the Conference of Presidents represents or reflects the views of all of American Jewry.
When I wrote my post I wasn't actually expecting any major group to seriously threaten to leave the Conference. In other words, this is much ballsier than I expected. But now that this possibility is seriously on the table, I'm not backing off from it. The Conference's main function is to serve as a meeting ground wherein the totality of the organized institutional Jewish community can meet. Having voluntarily ceded that role with yesterday's vote, it's unclear what utility the Conference retains.