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Beinart hits Silverman video, but not all that hard

on 20 Comments

Peter Beinart has a post at his Open Zion blog about the Sarah Silverman viral video in which the comedian offered sex to Sheldon Adelson if he would give his campaign donations to President Obama not Mitt Romney.

This time, Silverman takes aim at Sheldon Adelson, an old Jew who even more dramatically incarnates the anti-Muslim bigotry that infects pockets of American Jewry. Adelson, after all, is pro-occupation, doesn’t think Palestinians exist and believes that “all terrorists are Islamists.” But Silverman doesn’t talk about that.

….In 2008, Silverman mocked Jews who discriminate against people they incorrectly consider Muslim. In 2012, she could have mocked Jews who support discrimination against people who actually are Muslim. Instead, she decided that the most objectionable thing about Sheldon Adelson is that he might not be able to get it up. 

I think what Beinart wants to say is that the last thing Obama needs is to have his hands in the pocket of another powerful wealthy Jew who supports the occupation.  Taking Adelson’s money actually may compromise the president’s already compromised positions on Middle East policy or, at the very least, make it appear as if Obama is sympathetic toward Adelson’s views on the occupation and Islam.

But on a deeper level Beinart is probably dismayed that Silverman, who is a voice of young, smart, hip and liberal Jews who he claims are turning away from Israel, would be courting the Netanyahu sugar daddy, Adelson. 

Who knows why Silverman agreed to do this commercial?  It is possible she does not get the connection between Adelson and injustice.  Maybe she is not so smart. Appearances can be deceiving in actresses, as well as politicians.  At 41, the comedian could be out of touch with the Jewish youth of America. It could be that she doesn’t care. Or she’s no liberal when it comes to Zionism.  Or possibly, she is doing it for the money. (The ad is produced by a Jewish political organization.) 

Then there is the question of why Beinart pulled his punches with his suggestion that Silverman should have mocked Jews who support discrimination against Muslims.  He could have proffered the more hard-hitting recommendation that the comedian mock Jews who support the occupation. Because anti-Muslim sentiments are the result and not the cause of the pro-Israel support.

Still Beinart, in his sophisticated, liberal Democrat, liberal Zionist way, raised the issue in the mainstream media.  It would not be there without him.  For that he should be commended.

Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY. His twitter handle is @abushalom

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20 Responses

  1. eGuard on July 19, 2012, 8:32 pm

    Ira Glunts: Silverman, who is a voice of young, smart, hip and liberal Jews

    Did you see the video? Aren’t there some words missing then?

  2. eGuard on July 19, 2012, 8:37 pm

    Beinart writes: Silverman identified a generational [break] among Jews: a black president with a Muslim name

    Being “black” would describe it enough, wouldn’t it. Can someone tell Beinart to be honest and clear? Thanks.

  3. lobewyper on July 19, 2012, 8:55 pm

    Well, maybe Beinart deserves criticism for his performance. Yet, I’m left with the feeling that Mr. Glunts has missed the forest for the trees with this piece. To wit, I have read about 60 pages of The Crisis of Zionism, and he does NOT pull any punches. Beinart says things even Mearsheimer and Walt didn’t say. It is definitely a “must read” for Mondoweissers.

    • jabaroot on July 20, 2012, 10:27 am

      Doesn’t pull any punches? Eh. While he may have interesting things to say about the Jewish-American establishment, he certainly leaves a LOT to be desired in many other ways. I wrote a review of the book for Mondoweiss a few months ago. You can find it here:

      • lobewyper on July 21, 2012, 8:27 am


        I’ve now read and reread your review. I found it interesting, but difficult to understand in places and filled with scorn for Mr. Beinart’s book. I consider the latter to be undeserved. Due to time considerations and home remodelling, I’ve not been able to finish reading the book, but I have copied M. J. Rosenberg’s review of it on Amazon, which is far more consistent with my own opinions so far.

        A book for people who care about Israel, March 27, 2012
        By M. Rosenberg “MJ Rosenberg” (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews
        (REAL NAME)
        This review is from: The Crisis of Zionism (Hardcover)
        Two kinds of people will hate this book. The first is the political right which supports the occupation and believes it can be sustained forever.
        The other is people who despise the very idea of Israel.
        Peter Beinart is a Zionist. He opposes the occupation primarily (although not exclusively) because he believes it is destroying Israel. If there is one message that comes through in this book (I read a review copy)it is that Beinart wants the Israel he grew up on (one that he understands was far from perfect) to be there for his children.
        He thinks that the continued occupation will ultimately either destroy Israel’s soul or even its physical existence.
        Those fears clearly drove him to write this book.
        Reading it, I kept thinking of my father-in-law who survived the Holocaust and how much he worried that Israel’s leaders would let it be destroyed.
        He used to say, “These Jews from Poland and Russia figured out how to create a Jewish country from nothing. What did they know? But sitting in Warsaw and Lodz, they figured out how you create ministries and embassies and a whole government. They figured out how to build an army. But I’m afraid that their children aren’t so smart. They take it for granted. They will lose it all unless they get smart.”
        That is what Beinart thinks too. An old Jewish soul in a young American man.
        This book can change history. That is why it is creating such a ruckus. The noise you hear are the moans of those who are devoted to the status quo and worry that Beinart is challenging it.
        It’s a great book and a pleasure to read.
        Not to sound too much like the late 1960’s person I am, Beinart’s plea reminds me of the quote Bobby Kennedy always invoked. I think it’s Tennyson.

        “Some people see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask “why not.”

        That is what Beinart is doing.

        MJ Rosenberg

  4. ToivoS on July 19, 2012, 11:04 pm

    Sara Silverman has always struck me as a horses ass. “Smart, hip and liberal” are not the words I would use to describe her performances. “Stupid, self conscious and opportunistic” are better.

  5. Nevada Ned on July 19, 2012, 11:37 pm

    Sarah Silverman likes to shock people. One of her jokes is

    “I’m glad that the Jews killed Jesus Christ. I’d do it again!”

    Yes, the joke is offensive. And she knows it perfectly well.
    That’s why she tells it.

  6. PeaceThroughJustice on July 19, 2012, 11:45 pm

    “Because anti-Muslim sentiments are the result and not the cause of the pro-Israel support.”

    Worth repeating. America’s zionist community has A LOT to answer for, and this may turn out to be at the top of the list.

  7. YoungMassJew on July 20, 2012, 12:22 am

    Sarah Silverman is a major Jewish embarassment. I’m a 22 yr old guy so maybe my opinion of a 41 year old woman is a little scewed, but Silverman seems neither smart nor hip to me. Nothing useful to society has come out of that filthy mouth of hers as far as I can tell.

  8. ColinWright on July 20, 2012, 12:55 am

    ” I have read about 60 pages of The Crisis of Zionism, and he does NOT pull any punches. ..”

    So maybe now he’s realizing it’s cold outside, and he wants back into the tent. This has happened before.

  9. ColinWright on July 20, 2012, 1:01 am

    “Beinart says things even Mearsheimer and Walt didn’t say.”

    That’s not saying much. As I recall from ‘The Israel Lobby’ about half that book is stating indisputable facts and the other half is cringing whining. “We agree that Israel has a right to exist in security…Of course those who support Israel have the right to lobby…no one is questioning…” etc. Over and over.

    I don’t blame Walt and Mearscheimer. The cringing whining is evidence of the pass we’ve come to, not any reflection on them. But ‘things even Mearsheimer and Walt didn’t say’ makes it sound like their book was some kind of J’accuse.’ That decidedly wasn’t its tone.

    • lobewyper on July 20, 2012, 8:55 am


      Here are a few quotes from Beinart’s book:

      “At exactly the the moment that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip made it essential for American Jews to reckon with the ethical challenges of Jewish power, American Jewish leaders began insisting that to even acknowledge the misuse of Jewish power was to deny Jewish victimhood and thus victimize Jews anew. The argument caught on: in the 1970s, victimhood, especially as a strategy for defending Israel, supplanted liberalism as the defining ideology of organized American Jewish life.” (P 38).

      “…American Jewish organizations are not accountable to the mass of American Jews. … Today… as the pool of donors to specifically Jewish causes has shrunk, and escaling income inequality has left rich Americans exponentially richer, America’s major Jewish groups have come to resemble the “American Jewish peerage” that Wise warned against. Far more than in the past, a small number of large donors now sustain American Jewish groups, and far more than in the past, they set the agenda.
      As a result, American Jewish leaders can afford to dismiss–and even mock–the opinions of most American Jews.” (P 43)

      “Ignorance of Palestinian suffering breeds indifference, if not contempt. Call them ‘Arabs, not Palestinians,’ instructed the pollster Frank Luntz in a 2005 repot to American Jewish leaders. ‘The term Palestinians evokes images of refugee camps, victims, and oppression,’ while “Arabs says wealth, oil, and Islam,'” (Pp 43-44)

      BTW, I disagree that Mearsheimer and Walt cringed and whined.

  10. annie on July 20, 2012, 2:50 am

    you guys are really not getting it. this is a great video, silverman is go to the site and sign the petition.


  11. Eva Smagacz on July 20, 2012, 4:21 am


    The underlying message is “screw billionaires who buy elections in USA”.
    The perfect, biting satire of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission

  12. CitizenC on July 20, 2012, 6:01 am

    “the Sarah Silverman viral video in which the comedian offered sex to Sheldon Adelson if he would give his campaign donations to President Obama not Mitt Romney.”

    Or perhaps he could book her in a dual capacity into one of his casinos.

    Adelson’s Lawyers Fight Prostitution Accusations

  13. MRW on July 20, 2012, 8:46 am

    I agree with ToivoS, NevadaNed, and YoungMassJew. Her humor is not raffiné enough for me. She misses too many beats. She could have been miles higher in what she was doing. [Sorry Eva and annie.]

  14. piotr on July 20, 2012, 4:46 pm

    From my little knowledge of the genre, the persona projected by Sarah in her shows is one of a totally immature and silly girl that is a bit superannuated. Different types of humor have adherents and detractors.

    If I were Sarah, I would explain that she merely proposed what Alan Derschowitz already did, who quite recently and in public did a major job on the lower parts of Sheldon Adelson. If Harvard professors can do it, can a silly girl give it a try?

  15. harveystein on July 21, 2012, 6:58 am

    Beinart is about as unhip as some of you: Sarah is not an intellectual, she’s a comedian. But she’s saying in an absurd, vulgar way that she can out-trick Adelson, customer of whores Romney and Gingrich. She’s saying she’ll help her man Obama, who’s not the natural whore like the others. It’s basically a campaign ad, not an analysis of Israeli/American politics, like you (and Peter) would prefer.

    • Citizen on July 21, 2012, 1:20 pm

      Yes, her coy and fake innocently prurient message to big geezer political donors is very simple: Vote for Obama, not Mitt, give your money to Obama, not Mitt. I guess she picked Adelson since he’s #1 individual donor & it all goes to GOP side. Hard to imagine Silverman has not read Adelson’s public statement (& Newt’s repetition of it) that he, Sheldon A, has only one agenda, and that’s Israel (and wished he had never worn US military uniform, but rather IDF’s).

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