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This just in: Glenn Greenwald was never bar mitzvahed

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Two articles about Glenn Greenwald in today's Ha'aretz

These two articles appeared in Ha’aretz online on May 15. Click picture to enlarge.

I find the simultaneous appearance of these two columns (12) about Glenn Greenwald in yesterday’s Ha’aretz to be hilarious.

Is the lack of a bar mitzvah meant to somehow call into question the character of the journalist who published classified documents which angered the American government, its intelligence community and also their close, although duplicitous allies, in the Israeli government and intelligence services?  If so, will this surprising part of his personal history have traction with the readers of the well-regarded and purportedly progressive newspaper?

I doubt very strongly if this revelation, which comes from an interview Greenwald gave to GQ  magazine, would be very meaningful to even most  pro-Israeli American readers, who would seem to prefer their character denigration of those critical of Israel to come from the Israeli Defense Forces spokespersons, American political analysts, Jewish community leaders or in this case directly from the Israeli intelligence community.

Maybe if the editors of Ha’aretz would have not used the identical picture for both stories it would have been easier to ignore this bizarre juxtaposition.

Ira Glunts

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

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41 Responses

  1. pabelmont on May 16, 2014, 9:50 am

    Ha’aretz suggests: GG is not qualified to receive the polite attention of the American (or other) public, because, as it now transpires, he was never Bar Mitzvaed. OMG! And there I was, actually listening to (or reading) him!

    Well, well, a declaration of religious power if I ever saw one: WE (who were BM’d) are ELECTORS !! And We elect to “out” GG for not being a member of the electors !!

    This was not a story about GG at all. It was a story indicating the primacy, the centrality, the POWER, of we, who were BM’d, as ELECTORS. May we aspire even to be known far and wide as the ELECTORS ELDERS OF ZION? (But let me come clean. I was never BM’d either. I’m just a member of the non-elector 99.99%.)

    Or was there another newsworthy reason for mentioning this at all? Africa and China and America (really, most of the world, even Laos!) are full of people who were never BM’d. Does Ha’aretz policy call for a “story” on each of these? (Did they do a story on Obama never having been BM’d?

    Must have been a bad news day.

  2. lysias on May 16, 2014, 10:03 am

    Greenwald does record in his new book that he attended the bat mitzvah of his best friend (he elsewhere says that his lifelong best friend is Norman Fleisher, “one of the world’s best and bravest investigative journalists”). However, Greenwald criticizes what the rabbi said at that ceremony, because the rabbi said or implied that one must always follows the rules imposed by the supreme authority, God, which lesson Greenwald says enforces orthodoxies, compels adherence, and quashes dissent. The bat mitzvah is mentioned at Kindle location 2356.

    • lysias on May 16, 2014, 11:31 am

      “of his best friend’s daughter”, that should have been.

    • RoHa on May 16, 2014, 7:23 pm

      “The bat mitzvah of his best friend”

      Bruce Wayne is his best friend?

      • lysias on May 17, 2014, 4:59 pm

        You must not have read my correction. See above.

  3. Hostage on May 16, 2014, 10:14 am

    I didn’t read the Haaretz article. I had already read the Algemeiner version and all the really classy comments. http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/05/14/glenn-greenwald-reveals-he-never-had-a-bar-mitzvah/

    • Citizen on May 16, 2014, 6:25 pm

      @ Hostage
      Yeah, I always love to read the articles and comments under them in Algemeiner because they are so rich in the thoughts of the higher educated and more classy folks, here in America. Makes me realize why I’m such a low pig soul, not even circumcised.

  4. DaveS on May 16, 2014, 10:31 am

    Sorry Ira, but I would chalk this up to clumsy coincidence rather than any attempt to discredit Glenn. Haaretz runs articles like this all the time about prominent people who happen to be Jewish – purely hypothetical examples: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg has second bat mitzvah at age 78”; “Ryan Braun trying to reconnect with Jewish roots during suspension.” With GG, neither article appears critical of him. Surely someone should have noticed what you accurately describe as “bizarre juxtaposition,” and said maybe we should do these on different days, but it looks to me that the folks who do these personal stories and the ones who do the news stories were not collaborating, and the guy who slaps on the file photo thought, oh, this is easy, two for one. Still, the humor in this is irresistible.

  5. Denis on May 16, 2014, 12:13 pm

    Could someone here offer a little cultural background for the three or four of us goyim who still check out MW occasionally?

    I have a pretty good idea about the BarM ceremony because I recall how my Jewish buddies used to talk about it when I was a kid. What I don’t have a feel for is the intra-cultural blow-back for not being BarM’d, or whether most Jews would find it offensive or repulsive or whatever. I mean, I’ve never really thought about it. I presume it’s like baptism for a Christian, but with more Hebrew and a bigger party. Most Christians could care less if another one isn’t baptized — it just means they’re going straight to Hell, which is not a reflection on them as a human per se. Of course, the hard-core, snake-handling, fundamentalists are another thing, and I suspect Judaism has its hyper-ritualistic counterparts. But, still, I have never heard anyone criticize anyone else for not being baptized – or even asked. I mean, “Are you baptized” hasn’t been used as an opening line in the nightclub scene since the Middle Ages.

    I presume that Jewish reprobation for being non-BarM’d falls only on Jewish men, and Jews don’t hold it against us goyim. IOW, it’s a Jew-on-Jew reprobation. But how seriously is it taken? I mean, are there Jews that take it so seriously that they would not let a non-BarM’d Jew in their house? Is it as objectionable, say, as not being “genitally circumscribed?”

    • wes on May 16, 2014, 5:10 pm

      denis says

      “Is it as objectionable, say, as not being “genitally circumscribed?”

      well sir,myself being of the “cut and cult” below and above tribe can surely enlighten.
      the whole range of relegious practices are listed and one may choose which is suitable for oneself,hence the name the “chosen” people,thats right you get to choose,GG chose not,or someone made that choice for him.
      as to the conundrum of GC …..”genitally circumscribed” perhaps the initials GG ……”genitally goyimcised” would be best suited for a chappy like Glen Greenwald.

      hope that explains it all

      • Denis on May 17, 2014, 12:21 am

        hence the name the “chosen” people,

        I’m writing a book on the curious history of the Jews and nuclear warfare titled “Chosen to do what?” But I think you’ve just answered that question. I can move on to a different subject.

        thanks, wes

        btw, I see Phil has finally broken to ice on Abramson, so skip those other snide remarks of mine.

      • annie on May 17, 2014, 9:24 pm

        I’m writing a book on the curious history of the Jews and nuclear warfare titled “Chosen to do what?”

        LOL, self published i presume. so tell me, what percentage of “the jews” do you think have any expertise or experience with nuclear warfare? it’s not the sort of things that many people have the opportunity to make decisions about.

      • RoHa on May 17, 2014, 10:51 pm

        ” experience with nuclear warfare? ”

        There very few people still alive who have any experience of either the delivering or the receiving end.

    • Krusty on May 16, 2014, 7:10 pm

      “But how seriously is it taken? I mean, are there Jews that take it so seriously that they would not let a non-BarM’d Jew in their house? Is it as objectionable, say, as not being “genitally circumscribed?””

      Secular diaspora here: I’m a millennial, I was raised in a relatively Jewish area, have a lot of Jewish friends, and can say with confidence that I wasn’t bar mitzvah’d, and nobody I know cares. This includes Israelis that I work with. Though definitely a step away from the norm, even amongst the Secular and Reform crowd, it is literally not an issue beyond “Oh man, you missed out!” In that way, it’s really not unlike skipping Birthright.

      Of course, I can only speak to my experience. The most interaction I have with Hasidic Jewry is to inform them that yes, I’m Jewish but no, I’m not interested. (That’s a joke for anybody who ever encountered the Mitzvah Tank.)

      • Denis on May 17, 2014, 12:22 am

        Secular diaspora. I love it. Aren’t we all.

    • Citizen on May 16, 2014, 7:29 pm

      @ Denis

      Hey, just so you know, there are regulars on MW, have been for many years, other than you and your three or four stray return visitors, who are goy. And not even cut. And your question is inane. An eight day old baby has no choice unless his parents give it to him. That’s exactly the problem. In Europe they don’t do routine baby boy circumcision. Why that custom lingers in the USA for goys is a good question since the practice is not medically needed. Are males suffering in droves in Europe as not circumcised? Do the girls love them less? LOL.

    • ziusudra on May 17, 2014, 4:03 am

      Greetings Dennis,
      Living in Germany (American) as a lapsed catholic.
      I have one married daughter in Milan with one grandson,
      not circumcised. I have one daughter in San Diego with one
      grandson, circumcised. I remarked to me daughter on a visit
      to her of the circumcision quipping of our catholicness getting a
      pity answer that it is now the fancy in California. I couldn’t care
      less one way or the other. No, non of them practise either & me
      granson hasn’t been baptised.
      ziusudra
      PS circumcision was going on long before religions.
      Oy, Weh! Must me grandson become a jew or can he claim acceptance
      into a jewish home, due his circumcision?

      • Ecru on May 18, 2014, 6:08 am

        @ ziusudra

        “PS circumcision was going on long before religions

        Just interested, do you have a citation for that, it seems to me we’ve had religion for a VERY long time. As I said, not disagreeing, just asking for more info.

    • annie on May 17, 2014, 9:17 pm

      for the three or four of us goyim who still check out MW occasionally?

      just to put in my 2 cents worth. if you want to call yourself a derogatory term i suppose that’s your business, but please do not include me or others in that characterization, it’s rude. and there are a lot more than 3 or 4 of us.

      and if you try it again and for some reason it doesn’t pass moderation, you’ll know why. and look, you’ve got citizen saying it now too! stop!

    • Stephen Shenfield on May 18, 2014, 8:49 am

      “Bar mitzvah” means “son of the commandment.” A Jewish boy becomes a bar mitzvah on his 13th birthday. From then on he is an adult Jew in his own right, with all the attendant rights and duties. His father is no longer responsible for his actions, he is. He can be counted toward the minyan — the minimum number of Jews (ten) whose attendance is required to proceed with a religious service. Similarly, a Jewish girl becomes a bat mitzvah (daughter of the commandment) on her 12th birthday.

      So basically bar/bat mitzvah is just a way of saying adult Jew/Jewess. It is customary to mark the occasion with a special ceremony in which the young person for the first time reads a portion of the Torah from the scroll in front of the congregation. But that is only a custom. It is not itself a divine commandment like observing the Sabbath or fasting on Yom Kippur. If for some reason the ceremony does not take place — for instance, illness or unavoidable travel or the absence of the custom in the place where the person lives — that is no problem from a religious point of view. The person is still a son or daughter of the commandment, simply by virtue of having reached a certain age. Not being “bar mitzvah’d” does not mean you are not “bar mitzvah”.

      The fact that such exaggerated importance is placed on the bar mitzvah ceremony and celebration is a reflection of Jews’ ignorance of Judaism — one of the many signs of its degeneration.

  6. PeaceThroughJustice on May 16, 2014, 3:15 pm

    “… who would seem to prefer their character denigration …”

    Alas I think you’re right. Most American Jews still do regard this refusal to join up as a kind of character flaw.

  7. Kathleen on May 16, 2014, 3:19 pm

    Glenn Greenwald is by far one of the best investigative reporters on the intelligence community special forces…totally calls out and digs deep into any subject he focuses his laser like intellect on. On the I/P issue, Iran etc he is fact based…period. One of the best new programs I have ever seen him on was a take down of Cliff May on the Dylan Ratigan news program some years back. Greenwald and Ratigan wiped up the floor with Cliff May’s pile of fabrications. I love Greenwald…and Jeremy Scahill along with Dr. Marcy Wheeler/Emptywheel…their integrity is of the highest order.

  8. Palikari on May 16, 2014, 4:07 pm

    Mmm… Who cares?

  9. eljay on May 16, 2014, 7:16 pm

    >> This just in: Glenn Greenwald was never bar mitzvahed

    Yeah, but what really matters is this: Would he fellate a donkey for the greater good of the “Jewish State” (or for the good of the “Jewish State” of Greater Israel)?

  10. Citizen on May 16, 2014, 7:23 pm

    Poor Glen, never officially became a man. Must be jealous of this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8XDo4lsa10

    Next thing you know it will be discovered that Glenn’s uncut!

  11. wondering jew on May 17, 2014, 2:40 am

    Although Haaretz is a very public place and one would prefer something more private, it is quite natural at this moment of history to try to measure or assess the nature of a Jewish identity and how that relates to Zionism. This particularly juxtaposition might make it too apparent and thus embarrassing, I feel that it is a conversation, an exposition that is natural to have and good for Jews to have. A nonJewish expert on identity might add something useful too and of course there are those who make analogies from their own ethnic identity quandaries or clarities and thus tell the Jews how normal people feel, but it is essentially a Jewish conversation. It doesn’t happen here on such a high level and just putting the spotlight on it with this post might goad the conversation, but is not the needed conversation itself.

    Those who come from the anti Zionist or non Zionist point of view seem to be stating without saying so: though the spiritual teachings of Judaism may be useful as a means to the end of universal right and wrong, all other aspects of Judaism that have not been universalized are therefore some aspect of tribalism and thus but the seed of rabid nationalism and we see where that leads.

    The experience of each individual Jew is so specific and so typical in some ways and so atypical in other ways that to get into the specifics of autobiography opens the way to the opposite of enlightenment.

    My own personal Jewish identity is very generational, specific to being born 10 years after WWII and the singed eyebrows from Hitler’s breath I noticed on the European Jews who inhabited my youth in Winnipeg and Chicago.

    The tension between universalism and particularism in the Jewish thinking is nothing new. The specific manifestation of a state at war with its neighbors gives a particularly ugly background to a real discussion.

    (Let me speak to the issue of street creds that I raised the other day. It is relevant to the emotions raised and the organizational value of certain leaders and icons. To pretend that Jewish Zionists dodge Max Blumenthal for reasons x, y and z, should include the fact that he speaks a certain type of rhetoric and the reasons young Jews from J Street will not follow a Max Blumenthal also involve what kind of Jews those J Street Jews are and by that I mean what answers they give to the Pew people on the issue of Jewish identity and thus his identity and his ability to draw people to him is an issue of dynamic involving impure but relevant emotions that contribute to political dynamics.

    People here are too committed to their own individual attitude towards the Jewish identity discussion to allow a dissection of the issue or the dynamics involved. It’s more like that mudwrestling shouting match between Phil Weiss and the anti Palestinian Zionist near Zabar’s. That’s not a discussion, a dissection. Or anything useful other than street theater. But in fact there are real issues to discuss.

    • ziusudra on May 17, 2014, 4:18 am

      Greetings yonah fredman,

      …..the experience of each individual Jew…..
      …..my own personal Jewish identity……

      Fred, i remember before leaving Manhattan in 65 that all of the gays i met would constantly talk of their feelings as others normally do not.
      Jews, i knew or know do not constantly do this, but it occurs more than among other religions or ethnicities. Blacks, Puerto Ricans & Irish don’t cry in their beer for all they’ve gone through.
      Would you please verbalize your feelings of this so called Jewishness,
      thank you,
      ziusudra

    • adele on May 17, 2014, 9:40 am

      Can anyone provide a summary of what Yonah is attempting to say? I can’t figure it out, lots of words and rambling thoughts that don’t appear to be coherent. Do I detect evidence of an existential crisis perhaps, identity-crisis-breakdown? If yes, Yonah has my sympathy, must be brutal to have your world slowly erode away because it was built on the oppression and suffering of another people.

      Meanwhile the Palestinians in Gaza, behind Israel’s electrified fence, whilst under siege from their Israeli occupiers, are praying that Yonah and his tribal kin figure out their crisis because they would like to get on with their lives and no longer be imprisoned.

      Perhaps Yonah should call: 1-800-Identity-Crisis

      • annie on May 17, 2014, 9:59 pm

        Can anyone provide a summary of what Yonah is attempting to say?

        hmm, lots of it went right over my head, like the whole first paragraph.

        but i understood this: Those who come from the anti Zionist or non Zionist point of view seem to be stating without saying so: though the spiritual teachings of Judaism may be useful as a means to the end of universal right and wrong, all other aspects of Judaism that have not been universalized are therefore some aspect of tribalism and thus but the seed of rabid nationalism and we see where that leads.

        it means he thinks non/anti zionists think judaism might be an end to right and wrong, which is a thought that never crossed my mind actually. i don’t think any religion can do that. and after that assumption, or aside, he says he thinks we think every other jewish cultural attribute is the seed of rabid nationalism. (!!!!) where does he come up with this – i have NO idea.

        and then he said about max, people avoid him for “xy and z” but follow him for “issue of dynamic involving impure but relevant emotions” argh. iow, deviants follow him. lots of words (“I mean what answers they give to the Pew people on the issue of Jewish identity and thus his identity and his ability”) definitely not masking a big insult.

        of course, it never occurred to me max was “unpure”. but come to think of it, he probably is, somewhat. but no more than the rest of us. i think people who come from tribes ‘get’ tribes, and those who didn’t, don’t. i didn’t so i don’t.

    • Denis on May 17, 2014, 9:41 pm

      “People here are too committed to their own individual attitude towards the Jewish identity discussion to allow a dissection of the issue or the dynamics involved.”

      You got that right. And the other obsession I’ve noticed on MW lately is eljay’s donkey fellation theme, which keeps coming up in these threads, no pun intended. I think what we need to dissect is his “issues” and “dynamics.” Who knows, we might find therein the hidden door to the “Jewish identity.” It’s gotta’ be down there somewhere. Lemme’ have another look.

      • annie on May 17, 2014, 10:08 pm

        that’s not eljay’s theme, that’s SNL theme. eljay’s theme is saying zio supremist over and over. is eljay even jewish?

        speaking of jewish identity.. there is a quality lots of the males have, albeit it’s not limited to jewish identity (at all), but i’d say they are pretty good at. cough, to choose a term…mental-masterbation. not all of them of course (heaven’s no!). just some of the one’s i’ve had relationships with, it seems to follow them around and they don’t seem to try to stop doing it. i guess no one raised them to believe it would make them go blind or anything. but it can get a little nerve wracking. and that’s not a trait that ebbs and flows depending on ones political views, necessarily.

        but who am i to complain, i can’t even sleep if there’s a pea under my mattress.

      • eljay on May 17, 2014, 10:43 pm

        >> Denis: You got that right. And the other obsession I’ve noticed on MW lately is eljay’s donkey fellation theme …
        >> Annie Robbins: that’s not eljay’s theme, that’s SNL theme.

        Correct. And a damned funny one, IMO. :-)

        >> eljay’s theme is saying zio supremist over and over.

        Actually, it’s “Zio-supremacist”. ;-)

        >> is eljay even jewish?

        Nope. First-generation Canadian, atheist and vegetarian. :-)

      • RoHa on May 17, 2014, 10:46 pm

        Spelling : masturbation.

        And I should call you Princess Annie?

      • annie on May 17, 2014, 11:17 pm

        absolutely! (joke)

        2 back to back misspellings. yikes!

      • Hostage on May 18, 2014, 3:40 am

        that’s not eljay’s theme, that’s SNL theme.

        In fairness, the practice of accusing an adversary of having sex with a donkey or being willing to do so dates back at least to the Talmudic era and the Jewish legends about the Prophet Baalam. I’ve commented in the past that, when he tried to curse Israel he was compelled, against his will, to pronounce blessings instead. His memory was besmirched even further by the Jewish sages who accused him of having committed bestiality with his talking donkey. The only puzzle is why thousands of years later the US Senate adopted this procedure as part of the confirmation process, when the constitution prohibits religious tests;-)
        link to halakhah.com
        link to dafyomi.co.il

  12. justicewillprevail on May 17, 2014, 11:14 am

    As the good Captain said, it’s all blabber’n’smoke

  13. DaBakr on May 17, 2014, 7:44 pm

    one doesn’t have to like Glen Greenwald (and I, for one, do not particularly) to appreciate the importance of the info he is disseminating. Whatever dog he has in the race-and I fully expect he has one-it still doesn’t trump the information-which, those in the US especially, are entitled to. Other then gossip, which has always been a big part of mainstream media [and to which this author IGz ascribes no matter how he puts his lipstick on it] I don’t see what the discussion is about and why it is relevant to anyone but GG and those that come into direct contact with said member.

    *also-all the stupid jokey comments about ‘goy’ jew and zionist seem to leave out the matter of Palestinian Muslims also being circumcised though the difference between the two is specificity of age.

    • annie on May 17, 2014, 10:18 pm

      lisa kudrow said on conan her son got a drive-by bar mitzvah at the mall by some chabad guys when he was 15. they came up to him and asked if he’d ever been, he said no so they did it there at the mall and took a photo he took home and showed his mom. then some relatives wrote him checks. ha!

      • RoHa on May 17, 2014, 10:43 pm

        That’s hilarious! Comes second only to the Drive-in Self Service Funeral Parlour proposed in Pogo Possum.

    • Hostage on May 18, 2014, 3:15 am

      *also-all the stupid jokey comments about ‘goy’ jew and zionist seem to leave out the matter of Palestinian Muslims also being circumcised though the difference between the two is specificity of age.

      According to Jewish mythology there have always been other peoples living along side the Jews between the river and the sea who were Samaritans or Bedouin Arabs descended from Abraham and Keturah, i.e. the house of the Rechabites: The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab, and they were of the sons of Jethro. http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16032#showrashi=true His descendants, the Rechabites, kept their own customs, dwelled in tents, and sat with the Sanhedrin in the Temple (Sanh. 106a; Ex. R. i. 12; comp. I Chron. ii. 55). http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8620-jethro

      The Torah, like the Hague rules, expressly prohibited the Jews from claiming so much as one foot of the conquered Land of Edom, yet modern day Zionists try to pretend that it’s all Eretz Israel and that the Arab descents of Esau living between Beersheba and Eilat are recent colonists. Get back to us when you can keep your stories straight.

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