Blumenthal’s video is a reflection of Lieberman’s Israel

on 115 Comments

Max Blumenthal’s latest video has created much controversy and debate that we’ll try to cover here on the site. F.E.Felson sent us one response:

Not surprisingly, the skeptical response to Max Blumenthal’s latest video has been one of casual dismissal: OK, so he went and found some drunk
frat boys hanging out together and filmed them making crude racial
remarks. Not pleasant stuff, but not a huge deal, either.

listen, hand me a fifth of Henny, a video camera, and an hour, and I’ll
show you Negroes claiming that God’s messenger lives in a space-ship
orbiting the earth,” Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in his Atlantic blog.

have drawn a parallel to Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 movie “Borat,” in
which a group of inebriated fraternity brothers from the University of
South Carolina yuk it up
about Jews, blacks and slavery. It wouldn’t be fair to call them
representative of American society, the thinking goes, so why should we
read anything more into what a handful of boozy Israelis and American
Jews in Jerusalem say?

I have one suggestion why we should: because the man who is Israel’s
new foreign minister, and who very nearly became its new prime minister
this spring, is an absolute, unqualified bigot. Avigdor Lieberman’s
rise (along with Benjamin Netanyahu’s resurgence) is confirmation that
the mood in Israel (and among its ardent American supporters) toward
the Arab and Muslim worlds has darkened dramatically. His rhetoric is
as nakedly racist as George Wallace’s was in America 40 years ago—and
he is now Israel’s ambassador to the world.

don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that the basic attitudes and
instincts that the ignorant, drunk racists in the video express are
products of the same culture—in Israel and among its American
backers—that has given rise to Lieberman, a culture that de-humanizes
Arabs and Muslims and vilifies anyone (especially a black American with
a Muslim middle name) who would dare challenge the dominant “Israel
good/Arabs bad” narrative. Their parents’ and grandparents’ generations
mask the rawness of these attitudes with sterile-sounding terms like
“demographic problem” and “security fence,” but beneath it all is the
same basic de-humanization that these kids are expressing. I suspect
this video is a symptom of that culture.

who knows — maybe some of these kids’ parents are actually enlightened
on the Israeli/Palestinian question, and would be appalled to hear what their sons are
saying. Maybe this really is nothing more than drunk guys trying to
out-macho each other—just like in “Borat.” But even if that’s the case,
we are still left with the fact that one of the most powerful and
popular elected officials in Israel embraces the same racism that they
are voicing. And unlike this video, his rise can’t be explained away as
some isolated, meaningless aberration.

115 Responses

  1. Emmanuel Schiff
    June 7, 2009, 9:18 pm

    Again, you and your simple-minded, uncomplex view of the world. The war in Gaza came not out of bloodthirst but out of a desire to stop the constant barrage of rockets fired by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian organizations. Were there way too many civilian casualties? Yes. Was the army not careful enough? Yes. Was a massacre of civilians the intention? Absolutely not. I didn't vote for Netanyahu in the elections. I voted for Meretz, and I hope Netanyahu falls quickly and will be replaces by a pro-peace coalition. However, there are several reasons for his rise to power. One of them is that many Israelis think that with Hamas in power in Gaza there is no chance for peace. It isn't bloodlust, as you call it. It is disappointment with the peace process.

  2. lovelyisraelis
    June 7, 2009, 11:14 pm

    "Are concerns regarding the possibility of rockets coming from the West Bank and not just Gaza not legitimate?" They are NOT legitimate in my view, and the reason they are not legitimate is that Israel's TOTAL intransigence and TOTAL rejection of every peace initiative predates the quassam rockets by many years. It predates the suicide bombings by many years. It predates Hamas by decades. It's pure obfuscation. The Saudi Plan–predictably rebuffed by Israel–calls for full normalization of relations with israel. ALL arab league states and the PLO are signatories. Hamas says it will NOT stand in the way of the Saudi Accord and will abide by its stipulations IF it is approved by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Israel says "forget it." They want the land and they don't want the people. I don't understand why that is so difficult to see. Nor is the apartheid wall a matter of security. If it were, you'd build it on your own damn property. Small wonder Bt'selem's lengthy, detailed study of the wall was entitled "Land Grab." It's all one big lie, emmanuel. I think one day you'll recognize that. But today, I fear, is not that day.

  3. lovelyisraelis
    June 7, 2009, 11:20 pm

    Why are earth are israelis "disappointed with the peace process??" Have they not gotten everything they've wanted? Continued, rabid settlement building, free reign to bomb and terrorize the Palestinians at will from air, sea and land and bucketloads of cash and weapons from the US to continue their colonial project. Some people are awfully hard to please.

  4. LastSilmaril
    June 7, 2009, 11:38 pm

    Two points. 1) The rest of Ta-Nehisi's post reads: "…The Henny is for me. The Negroes can be found, sober, saying anything. As can all people. That's the point. Bigotry is human. Why would the blacks and Jews be any different?" The post was willfully taken out of context to suggest that Ta-Nehisi was dissing the video on the basis of its subjects being drunk off their asses. Some intellectual honesty, please. And for the record, I don't know if he's totally wrong. How difficult would it be to find Arabs expressing similar sentiments toward the Jews? For my money, fairly easily. Not condoning the hatred of either side. Just saying that it is disingenuous to attribute this hatred only to one side, or to all members of either side. 2) OK, but the fact still remains that a video of actual Israeli citizens and soldiers being racist is far more newsworthy and far more relevant to the point this video was trying to make about Israeli society as a whole. These sheltered Americans live far different lives than Israelis do; it is just that much easier for them to abstract away the Palestinians as 'the enemy'. Lastly- I do believe that the opinions in the video were genuine. To quote a bit of pop psychology from the Talmud: "A man is known throw his cup [e.g. how drunk he is], his wallet [what he spends his money on] and his anger." -e

  5. JES49
    June 8, 2009, 4:08 am

    Emmanuel, not only Dash and Shinui. Almost every election since 1965, in which Ben Guriion's Raft party gained prominence, has witnessed the meteoric rise of a "third party", with the subsequent decline within the next two election cycles. So, we had Tzomet, Merkaz and even Gil (the pensioner's party) that have all appeared pretty much out of nowhere and then disappeared. BTW, I share your hope that it Yisrael Beitenu will disappear (or at least concentrate more on civil and government reform). As I already stated, I think that Lieberman is a corrupt thug.

  6. JES49
    June 8, 2009, 4:16 am

    Well, a "well-known" terrorist also made himself president of the PA. He also had the distinction of being the first and only person to address the UN General Assembly with a .38 strapped to his belt. (Although, I seriously doubt that he could shoot someone unless it was, execution style, from the back.)

  7. JES49
    June 8, 2009, 4:23 am

    Emmanuel, I agree 100% However, the rantings of "lovelyisraelis" are not worth a reply. He's spouting boilerplate, and in all likelyhood has never even been here.

  8. JES49
    June 8, 2009, 4:31 am

    You're absolutely correct. And the fact that he chose to place "journalism" in quotes further emphasizes the point.

  9. Emmanuel Schiff
    June 8, 2009, 9:32 am

    That's true. It's impossible to have "sane discussions" with people who see things in such simplistic black and white colors, and who think Palestinians can do no wrong (even firing rockets at civilians is fine!) and that Israel is always the Evil One. It's frustrating to discuss something with people who keep bringing up different things we haven't been talking about. But this! But that! How the hell did we get here from talking about Lieberman?!?

  10. Emmanuel Schiff
    June 8, 2009, 9:34 am

    Tell me, have the Palestinians ever done anything wrong in your mind?

  11. Shafiq
    June 8, 2009, 9:44 am

    Some more Anti-Arab crap you've come up with – Well Done!

  12. Shafiq
    June 8, 2009, 9:46 am

    I know of a person who is a green-card holder and doesn't want to say the oath. Although, he isn't allowed to become a full citizen as a result, neither he or the authorities have a problem with it. His children are full US citizens. I wonder whether the same could be said for this Israeli oath.

  13. Shafiq
    June 8, 2009, 9:48 am

    Try reading a history book, it really does wonders. The fact that India is predominantly Hindu and the fact that people like me exist (a Muslim whose ancestors willingly converted from Hinduism), are testament to your sentence being a whole load of crap.

  14. Shafiq
    June 8, 2009, 9:49 am

    Yes I am a He. Thanks for pointing it out.

  15. Flameofjudah
    June 9, 2009, 9:50 pm

    You really don't belong in Israel. I think you should pack up and go to Eurabia and live with your EU handlers. It's one thing to report but you're like a mad dog – and Israel's the bone. What are you trying to prove? How much you hate Israel and the Jews who live there? You go to a bar and find drunk kids and stick a mic in their face then rush to Youtube to prove what? You know, there is a prayer in Shemonah Esre regarding your type – it's for the Slanderers.

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