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Controversy boils over ‘New Yorker’ fiction parody contest!

on 35 Comments

Mad scribes, tonight is the deadline for entries in our contest to parody New Yorker army fiction, inspired by Shani Boianjiu’s alarming IDF story, “Means of Suppressing Demonstrations.”

If you do throw your hat into the ring, you invite the scorn of two writers, Raphael Magarik at Open Zion, who didn’t like our take on the Boianjiu story, and New Jersey Jewish News editor Andrew Silow-Carroll. Can you take the heat? 

From Silow-Carroll:

In large part because it is told from the soldier’s point of view, anti-Zionist blogs like Mondoweiss declared the story “propagandistic fiction”; on the New Yorker’s own site, commenters called the story “one-sided” and “Nakba-Denying IDF porn.”

…the story is nothing like that. Rather, a troubled female officer heads a four-person checkpoint along a road upon which (irony alert) no one travels. Three Palestinians — two adults and a child — approach the checkpoint and politely request that the soldiers suppress their “demonstration” so that their grievances make it into the newspapers. The ensuing action plays out like an outtake from Catch-22— the officer is seen reading carefully through the absurd army instructions about when to use shock grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas to put down a demonstration, while the Palestinian trio patiently awaits her decision.

Some critics insist the story unduly celebrates Israel’s vaunted “rules of engagement,” intended to minimize civilian casualties. Maybe it’s my pro-Israel bias, but I thought the story suggested exactly the opposite….

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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35 Responses

  1. seafoid on June 29, 2012, 1:02 pm

    “the story is nothing like that. Rather, a troubled female officer heads a four-person checkpoint ”

    how many checkpoints does the average Jewish putz in New Jersey encounter driving to New York ?

    • Fredblogs on June 29, 2012, 7:24 pm

      How many New Yorkers have been gunned down on the roads by New Jersey Jews? How many New Jersey Jews are trying to smuggle bombs into New York to commit acts of terrorism there? The checkpoints are there because the Palestinians made them necessary.

      • seafoid on June 30, 2012, 1:42 am


        there were more murders in Stockton/Philly between 2002/10 than deaths of grunts in Afghanistan over the same period.

        There are no checkpoints between Stockton and Gotham.

        Checkpoints in the OT are about the matrix of Jewish control. Israel doesn’t care about the wellbeing of individual Jews. What does the IDF do to reduce IDF suicides?

      • Djinn on June 30, 2012, 2:46 am

        Your apologist stance may have some validity if the checkpoints were only between the OPT & Israel, making it almost impossible to travel between (and even within) Palestinian villages & cities shows what they’re really their for.

      • straightline on June 30, 2012, 4:08 am

        You mean like in Deir Yassin and the King David Hotel? Oops sorry – they weren’t Jews who were killed, they were Jews doing the killing, so it doesn’t count.

      • talknic on June 30, 2012, 6:58 am

        straightline June 30, 2012 at 4:08 am

        Jewish folk were killed in the King David attack

      • The Hasbara Buster on June 30, 2012, 10:47 am

        You mean like in Deir Yassin and the King David Hotel? Oops sorry – they weren’t Jews who were killed

        You’re wrong, straightline — 17 Jews were killed in the King David bombing, alongside with 28 Britons and 41 Arab civilians. In a drive to embellish the attack, the plaque that today commemorates the terror act reads: “To the Irgun’s regret, 92 persons were killed.” This is a lie. The Jewish terrorists issued a communiqué regretting the Jewish deaths only, which is further proof, if any is needed, of Zionism’s intrinsic racism.

      • straightline on August 12, 2012, 7:21 am

        Sorry – I did make a factual error but I think your response enforces my point. To Zionists only Jewish lives count.

      • Dexter on June 30, 2012, 3:21 pm

        Typical Zionist garbage.

        Until we, as a world, can civilize Israeli Jews, there will never be a solution.

      • pjdude on July 1, 2012, 5:43 am

        and the attacks against Israel have been made necessary by Israel’s crimes. the checkpoints aren’t needed whats needed is for Israel not to commit the crimes it does.

      • ColinWright on July 2, 2012, 5:01 am

        ‘How many New Yorkers have been gunned down on the roads by New Jersey Jews?’

        How many New Yorkers make a habit of seizing the homes of New Jersey Jews by force, shooting them if they dare to protest, and humiliating them on a daily basis?

  2. annie on June 29, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Silow-Carroll doesn’t even link to the new yorker so people can judge for themselves. weird.

  3. talknic on June 29, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Bring it on

  4. Woody Tanaka on June 29, 2012, 1:16 pm

    And I see Witty is over at Open Zion still peddling his nonsense. LOL.

  5. Shmuel on June 29, 2012, 2:00 pm

    I have a terrible confession to make. Propaganda value be damned, I like the core story of the Palestinian demonstrators asking to be dispersed, and the army rejects trying their best to be accommodating and to play the role assigned to them in “the game”. It’s surreal and well told and by no means unequivocal. What I don’t like is the reference to the story of the Palestinian girl on the beach and its dismissal by Tomer, Lea and Shani. It is forced, superfluous, preachy and not necessarily what Lea and Tomer would have thought (despite Magarik’s pronouncement regarding the “protagonist’s perspective” – and he should know, because he’s hip to Hadag Nachash), and it does matter that it is a narrator voice-over.

    • ColinWright on June 29, 2012, 3:17 pm

      I don’t buy any of the apologists’ rationalizations. For one, they don’t fit what I read of the story (no, I am not going to read it — I start getting the heaves after two paragraphs). Whatever other purposes the author may have, she does manage to nicely rationalize Israel’s crimes and to invalidate the Palestinians’ attempts at resistance. That’s enough for me to throw it out of court — at least until Israel is safely in the past. Then we can read this story in the same spirit we might take when reading one of Kipling’s more egregiously paternalist short stories or perhaps when viewing Triumph of the Will. However, that moment hasn’t come just yet, has it?

      At best, the story’s defenders are just frightened by their only alternative — which is to denounce the story as a disgusting validation of Israeli propaganda on the part of the New Yorker. At worst, they actually want to see lies of this kind purveyed — and will use claims of literary value and ‘irony’ to get them through if that’s what it takes.

      Publishing — and defending — this story only serves to reinforce Israel’s position as ‘one of us’ and to suggest that her position is valid in some way. Moreover, I submit that these motives are what impel the story’s defenders. They are not rising to the defense of literature here. For one, the snippets I glanced at before the gorge rose again didn’t suggest I was looking at one of the world’s great short stories.

    • Donald on June 29, 2012, 6:32 pm

      “I like the core story of the Palestinian demonstrators asking to be dispersed, and the army rejects trying their best to be accommodating and to play the role assigned to them in “the game”.”

      One of the extremely rare times I disagree with you. One problem is that we finally have nonviolent Palestinian protestors getting some degree of positive attention in the press–not nearly enough, but some–and along comes this story that portrays them as sweet-tempered cute con artists. Adding to the insult is that it fits in with the usual hasbara notion that Palestinians are always making up stories about Israeli brutality. It can’t be separated from the retelling of the beach explosion, because it’s all part of the same thing. Conceivably one could have had the core story by itself (still problematic), but it’s part of a package that is consistent in its not terribly subtle message that Israel does its best to avoid civilian casualties and Palestinians lie about it. And then there’s the part about the honor killing. Fine, include that if it’s an accurate description of real life events (I don’t know enough to say), but then why is that in there when Israelis are depicted in the best possible terms?

      If it were clear that this story just depicted how Israelis view the conflict that would be fine, but it’s not written that way, as I think you agree.

      • Avi_G. on June 29, 2012, 7:54 pm

        I agree with Donald regarding the packaging of the two stories. Fiction is used to discredit the factual account that took place on the beach in Gaza.

        This sort of spin and deflection has long been Israel’s bread and butter.

        Those familiar with the case will recall that the Muhammad al-Durra’s case was tarnished so many times by Israel’s lies that at the end Israel managed to pass off the lie that Muhammad’s death was staged for maximum effect in front of TV cameras.

        It’s all part of the “Pallywood” libel that Israel and its minions have been pushing for decades.

        And we see the same pathetic tactic used on the Internet where Israel’s critics are first and foremost discredited in order to diminish from their effectiveness when they cite indisputable facts.

        All Palestinian suffering is fiction, you see? Jewish suffering, however, is all too real.

        Remember the Holocaust.

      • annie on June 29, 2012, 9:55 pm

        Fiction is used to discredit the factual account that took place on the beach in Gaza. This sort of spin and deflection has long been Israel’s bread and butter.

        not to beat a dead horse but that was a main theme of Famous Gaza killing featured in ‘New Yorker’ broke the ceasefire that led to ‘Operation Summer Rains’

        Except, in her fictional version the responsibility of Israel’s military for the unconscionable brutal massacre of an innocent family picnicking on the beach in Gaza was erased completely, pawned off as “a dormant shell that Palestinian militants had left by the sea”. Not only that, the photograph was referenced as “manipulation”, and it was anything but. These are real people living through this hell day in and day out in a real place the Israeli military treats as a petri dish for exercises in inflicting pain and suffering.

        The attack occurred less than 6 months after Hamas won the January 2006 legislative elections and the Quartet imposed harsh economic sanctions against the Palestinian territories, a precursor of the current blockade of Gaza still in effect today. Later that month, after the attack on the Ghaliya Family, after the abduction on the 24th of Osama and Mustafa Muamar, Gilad Shalit was captured and held as a hostage. Shortly thereafter, on June 28th, Israel officially launched its summer operation, and the next day abducted numerous Hamas officials, 8 ministers, and 26 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

        ‘How could the New Yorker be so blind to history? Is that even possible?’ was my first thought. It was the magazine’s choice to publish a story that replicates the impenetrable cloak of lies pumped out by Israel’s robust hasbara emissaries. But for a respected publication like the New Yorker to publish a “fictional” story which replicates the horrible death of a family of 7, thus beginning a summer of violence and clearly recorded as resulting in innumerable attacks…I still find this inconceivable and unconscionable.

        they want to erase history and rewrite it and then double down referencing the lie as if it was common knowledge. it’s a tactic. and it’s nakba denial.

      • seafoid on June 30, 2012, 1:48 am

        I think they are talking to themselves at this stage Avi. The OECD countries are going to flip against Israel. The States will be last but will flip nonetheless. They really try hard to spin Israel as hip and edgy but there is too much bad news seeping out day after day.

        I imagine that the Israeli embassies around the world are flat out trying to keep the news positive. It is probably much harder now than it was even 5 years ago.

        The world economy is stuck in a depression and Jewish suffering is no longer an issue .

    • lyn117 on June 29, 2012, 9:15 pm

      I think Shmuel has a point, the Palestinian demonstrators asking to be shot at is surreal enough to be satire of the Israeli army’s position. That Lea can “feel” nothing except the Palestinian boy’s spit from grazing her hand has some literary meaning, also, that in the last paragraph she imagines that she, Tomer and the boy they’re arresting could be seen as a “family”. Although it’s pretty perverse as satire or familial relation.

      • ColinWright on June 30, 2012, 3:05 am

        “I think Shmuel has a point, the Palestinian demonstrators asking to be shot at is surreal enough to be satire of the Israeli army’s position…”

        It’s surreal to you. When one considers the sort of nonsense that is accepted as fact among Israel supporters, then one realizes it may well be intended to be taken perfectly seriously — and just as importantly, probably will be. People don’t question material that buttresses their preferences. Your basic person who would prefer to support Israel will take that claim perfectly seriously. He’ll be happy to.

        One might as well profess to find evidence of literary technique and layers of meaning in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The premise there is pretty surreal to me — but plenty of people took it seriously, it was intended to be taken seriously, and it did a great deal of harm.

      • Donald on June 30, 2012, 12:48 pm

        “It’s surreal to you. When one considers the sort of nonsense that is accepted as fact among Israel supporters, then one realizes it may well be intended to be taken perfectly seriously — and just as importantly, probably will be. ”


        Plus, the New Yorker doesn’t have a stellar record on this subject. This is the magazine which 2002 carried a piece advocating a two state solution. LINK Sounds liberal, at least by American standards. But the writer (Nicholas Lemann) used an analogy from America’s past. The two obvious analogies would either be the conflict with the Native Americans, their dispossession, confinement to reservations and the violence against civilians by both sides, or the writer could have compared it to Jim Crow and the American South. He chose the latter, except that in his telling the IDF were like the Northern occupation army and guess who the Palestinians were? The white racist Southerners who supported the terrorist violence of the KKK. So why did the writer support a two state solution even though he compared the Palestinians to the KKK? Well, the Palestinians are a bunch of terrorist supporters, but give them a state even if it rewards their awful behavior and maybe they will some day grow up and admit their faults, the way white Southerners did.

        So who did the New Yorker editors think would find that bizarrely twisted upside down analogy persuasive? This was also the period when they carried Jeffrey Goldberg’s propaganda pieces (though to be fair, they also carried Seymour Hersh). It’s a good magazine on some issues, but on the I/P conflict not so much.

      • Bumblebye on June 30, 2012, 4:11 pm

        I wonder what NYT will have to say aboutYitzhak Shamir now he’s kicked the bucket. Top o’ the hour bbc bulletin managed trained as a lawyer, went to Palestine, murdered lots of people as its first 3 facts. How will Times gloss over fact 3?

      • Citizen on July 1, 2012, 8:29 am

        On Cable news today, Sunday, Bumblebye, they refer to him as “an early fighter for Israel.” Nothing about him being a former terrorist in fact.

      • Denis on June 30, 2012, 4:37 pm

        lyn, you’ve got my vote, too. Unfortunately, there are knee-jerk reactionaries here that have minimal understanding or appreciation of common literary devices such as metaphor, analogy, and hyperbole. It takes a lot less effort to see red than it does to see light.

        Given the Arabs’ and the Jews’ common Semitic ancestry, I thought that last — and lasting — image of the family was beautiful. I wish everyone on both sides of the I/P line would just hold that image in their minds as they try to work through their problems. I wish they would see each others’ children as comprising their collective genetic posterity.

        I think it was one of Annie Robbins’ posts that had a vid of IDF security dudes interrogating a young Palestinian boy. Eventually the boy starts to cry. As the boy is handed a handkerchief, one of the IDF thugs puts his face in this hands as if to say, “WTF are we doing??” As if he finally got it: that’s his own crying son.

        Maybe if some super-antisemite, or literal antisemite, would attack both the Arabs and Jews on the basis of some perceived common genetic flaws, like a lying gene or a violence gene, then the Arabs and Jews would unite against that common enemy.

        But, to get back on point, I am in your camp: I don’t read Boianjiu’s story to say what all the knee-jerkers think it says. Colin’s point seems to be: doesn’t matter what it says, it is crap b/c of the way it could be interpreted to support the Israelis. And it obviously could be. So I think that is a restatement of my position, too often repeated here, that fiction has no place in politics.

        If Ms Boianjiu has a point to make about the conflict based on her experiences in the IDF, or in the W.B., or in Israel, she should write about those experiences in a non-fiction piece so we know she is not BS’ing us behind a Harry Potter cloak of fiction, and she should state her conclusions explicitly so we can evaluate them based on her facts and what we know or think the facts to be. I will look forward to reading it, although I know I’ll miss the sex scenes.

        But as it stands now, her NY’r piece, merely by being fiction it is properly characterized as trash when compared to, say, a piece like Dooler Campbell’s MW article on getting busted by the IDF.

      • Donald on July 1, 2012, 9:18 am

        So it’s not really about the conflict, but if it is it is properly characterized as trash and none of her critics understands common literary devices, and fiction has no role in politics. Okay.

      • Citizen on July 1, 2012, 4:27 pm

        Seems to me Boianjiu could be co-writer along with the young woman who’s been writing, directing, starring in the HBO series Girls. Their stance is to make no judgment on the morality or ethics of what they depict through their characters, and yet, to sometimes posit backdrop so that the audience can see whatever it wants in the tension, both as to the background/context, and as to what the characters say about what they do, don’t do. It’s the emergent vision of this generation akin to showing Bill Clinton’s, “It all depends on what is, is.” They just is and seek only to depict what that is sans labels or past historical/cultural associations. They are a long way from liberal preachers or reactionary preachers–or Robbe-Grillet’s New Realism or Camus’s older existentialism.

    • OlegR on June 30, 2012, 5:42 am

      וואי וואי
      זהירות עוד ינדו אותך ולא ייתנו לשחק עם כל הילדים הנורמליים

      • Shmuel on June 30, 2012, 6:06 am

        פעם לקקן פעם מסתכן בנידוי. יום עסל יום בסל

    • Citizen on July 1, 2012, 8:43 am

      So, in a nutshell, the little story can be viewed as a dose of S & M gaming with a glimpse of the affect of propaganda on its recipients?

  6. bintbiba on June 30, 2012, 6:30 am

    ” min fadlikum arju an tatakallamou fil lugha al ingilisiyya !! haathihi l jabha jama3iyya! OlegR please don’t taunt Shmuel in Hebrew. He’s too much of a gentleman to answer you in kind in English.

    Just saying.

    • Shmuel on June 30, 2012, 7:00 am

      Sorry, bintbiba. Here’s the translation (except the last bit, which I’m sure you’ll understand in the original):

      Oleg: “Oh man. Careful or you’ll be shunned, and they won’t let you play with all the normal kids.”

      I replied: “One day I’m a suckup (Oleg’s comment yesterday), the next day in danger of shunning. Yom asal yom basal.”

  7. NickJOCW on June 30, 2012, 7:03 am

    The New Yorker story reads like something a dedicated but uninspired student might submit; if one was unkind one might call it too clever clever and far too long. There is the faintest touch of Pirandello in the two men and the boy (Six Characters in Search of an Author) that might have been taken somewhere, but wasn’t.

  8. bintbiba on June 30, 2012, 7:17 am

    Thank you,Shmuel. Can always depend on you to do the right thing. You are truly a gentleman! (You can tell I am quite ancient, being so fussy!)

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