“The Jewish extremists â€” the Zionists â€” they don’t want there to be academic freedom in this country, or political freedom in this country,” Duke said in a speech that was also broadcast on his personal Web site. “This university and your students and faculty are resisting this attack.”
Here’s hoping David Duke doesn’t read Haaretz. If he did, he might be forced to abandon his Protocols-type rambling and replace it with some truth, because he’d find a much more credible example of Jewish/Israeli suppression of freedoms: namely the freedom to marry. Haaretz recently reported that a group of intermarried couples is suing the State of Israel, asking to be compensated for expenses incurred during their international weddings.
There is no way for people of a different religion to marry legally in Israel, so couples who want to intermarry must go abroad. As was the case in this example cited by Haaretz:
Dimitri and Inessa Yakubovich met in early 2004. She was 25, he 24. Both of Inessa’s parents are Jewish. Dimitri has a Jewish father, meaning he is not Jewish according to halakha. They both served as drivers in the Israel Defense Forces. A short while after they first met, they began living together.
That summer they decided to get married. She had just received a NIS 9,000 grant from the army, which paid for their wedding in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since they traveled alone, rather than with a group, the wedding arrangements took a week, rather than the usual three days. They figure their expenses totaled $2,000…
“You feel like a second-class [citizen] who cannot marry in Israel and must go abroad,” says Dimitri. “I serve in the reserves like everyone else, and no one asks me if I’m half-Jewish. It shouldn’t be like this.”
Whatever your thoughts on intermarriage, it’s difficult to not call this religious discrimination. Which isn’t good because claims of discrimination against Israeli Arabs and the labeling of policies vis-a-vis Palestinians as apartheid have already placed the nature of Israeli democracy on the defensive.
Of course, these three elements are not all the same and should be judged on their own terms. But the conflicts between a “Jewish state” and “democracy” are not going to go away. Israeli society is only becoming increasingly diverse, ethnically and religiously. Is Israel prepared for this? Are we?
JTA has followed in the footsteps of the Jerusalem Post misrepresenting the (strange) Gesher study I wrote about yesterday. The poll asked Israelis who they thought the most hated group in Israel was — not which group they hated the most.
But the Post and JTA continue to confuse the two. The JTA item, entitled “Study: Israelis hate the pious most,” begins:
Fervently Orthodox Jews are the most hated group in Israel, a new study found.
The Gesher poll concluded that 37 percent of Israelis think fervently Orthodox Jews are the most disliked, 15 percent said the same of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union and 13 percent named settlers.
Am I the only one who sees a distinction between being “the most hated” and being the group people “think…are the most disliked”? The real story should be why Gesher phrased the question the way they did. Why ask people who they think the most hated group is? Why not just ask people who they most hate? Surely that would be more interesting and more informative.
Yesterday, my friend Rabbi Eliyahu Stern over at Beliefnet contrasted the new Borat movie with another recent cultural production highlighted by the New York Times last weekend: Jewface, an album of early 20th century songs that both mock and celebrate Jewish stereotypes (songs like Irving Berlin’s 1916 ditty “Cohen Owes Me Ninety-Seven Dollars”).
Stern wrote: “Unlike Borat, here it is actuall [sic] Jews embracing and promoting the worst Jewish stereotypes. Unlike the Borat effect, ‘Jewface’ does not mock anti-Semitic sterotypes; it celebrates them and says yeh, there is some truth here.”
While I don’t know that much about Jewface, my instincts about it were quite different, which inspired an email exchange with Rabbi Stern about Jewface and Borat — and the nature of art — that I reprint here for your reading pleasure:
Daniel Septimus wrote:
i totally disagree with you about jewface (i read your post). is there no value in exploring the ways we’ve perceived ourselves in the past? and is it not more interesting if we do it through past (kitschy) artistic explorations?
From: eliyahu stern
Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 11:44 AM
To: Daniel Septimus
Subject: RE: Question
regarding the issue of artistic exploration: i think there is good art and bad art. likewise i think there is a good politics and bad politics. Jewface is art that promotes bad politics. the question i have about exploring our past is why these texts why these tracks? what are you trying to do when you are exploring this genre? what is the value? i don’t see how this is in any way redemptive. i don’t believe that art is neutral and that said i don’t see how what this is offering is in any way socially beneficial.