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And, yes, I DO take it personally: It's always interesting to see how people REALLY behave in unguarded moments
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Sunday, June 07, 2009

It's always interesting to see how people REALLY behave in unguarded moments

from haaretz via information clearing house...
As someone who lives on and off in the American bubble in Tel Aviv and came to Israel on a Birthright tour like some of the kids in the video, this is embarrassing, shocking, bizarre, but familiar. And as someone who spent many nights grimacing at similar overheard conversations from American Jews in town for the week from Long Island, the booze-fueled hubris and uber-Zionism is not so strange at all. In the Jewish homeland for the first time, on a free trip, fleetingly experiencing a place gripped by a visceral realism and powerful sense of purpose, it's easy to let the beer overtake you.

While documentary filmmaker Max Blumenthal rejects this argument ("No amount of alcohol could make me express opinions that were not authentically mine," he says. "If anything, alcohol is a crude form of truth serum that lubricates the release of closely held opinions and encourages confessional talk."), many American Jews understand how hubris and chutzpah can flow much freer in Israel. Spared the political correctness, decorum and social morays of America (or Britain, South Africa or Australia), many find that they walk taller, step louder, and even sprinkle their speech with words they'd never say back home.

Not to excuse the behavior of those in the video, I don't believe this idiocy reflects the values of young American Jews or their opinions on Obama, but rather the way that Israel, in particular Jerusalem, can radicalize the young to the left or the right. It also proves (once again), that fools and alcohol and camcorders do not make a good match.

Coincidentally, the video comes about a week after Haaretz reported on the campaign launched by far-right Israelis called "No, you can't," meant to persuade their countrymen of the dangers of the "anti-Semitic" Barack Hussein Obama - with the emphasis on "Hussein." So far, the campaign appears to consist of sparsely attended rallies and posters of Obama in a kaffiyeh, much like those of Yitzhak Rabin before his 1995 assassination.

For many, the video is shocking because they think Jews aren't supposed to be racist. Especially not nice Jewish boys like those in the video, showing off the hip hop gear bought on the mean streets of Great Neck, their hats cocked sideways as they survey the city they profess to own after five days.

There are really only two types of young American Jews in Israel: the ones who head for Jerusalem, and the ones who go to Tel Aviv. I hope Blumenthal films his next segment in Tel Aviv, though the results would probably be far less salacious. On a balcony in Florentin, he would ask the drum circle what they think of Obama and through the purple haze would hear only praise for the president, before being forced to listen to a 30-minute account of a recent trip to Nepal.

This video either proves that drunk Americans are starting to resemble Kahanists, or Israeli far-rightists have achieved the rhetorical brilliance of drunk American Jewish yahoos in town for a week. Talking to drunken Birthrighters to gauge Israeli opinion on Obama is like using Mormons to measure American public opinion on gay marriage. You're speaking to the wrong crowd and at the wrong time of night, only in a country where there is no closing time or public drinking ordinances. One can only imagine what would be caught on film in an American college town under these circumstances.

See Max Blumenthal's shocking footage of the reaction by some Israelis and American Jews in Jerusalem to Obama's speech to the Muslim world. Co-produced by Joseph Dana, aka Ibn Ezra: and Mondoweiss, a blog that covers the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Middle East from a progressive Jewish perspective.

well, we know for damn sure that this kind of deplorable behavior coming from people who think they're in their zone of safety ain't at all unusual... you can bet your boots there's plenty of it right here in the u.s. of a. from coast to coast being dispensed by bigots, intolerant bastards, skinheads, hate-mongers, and extremists of every stripe be they christian, muslim OR jewish... what i want to know is when we can dispense with this hateful shit and get on with living together and treating each other like genuine human beings...

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