Thursday, June 14, 2007

Getting Ready for the Hate Mail

So, David Bogner of Treppenwitz posted the below video with the comment "I have no words."

And as unpopular as it will make me, I do have a couple of words. I'll try to keep my comments as short as possible so that those who wish to send me angry, angry messages can start doing so in the immediate future:

1) He says that "no Israelis are civilians" and gives a few reasons for that, one being that they "all" vote for a government which is oppressive. That is obviously false, not all Israelis vote any one way, and it is clear that many do not, in fact support their government's policies re: Palestinians. He does, however, make an interesting point that because all Israelis have done military service, they cannot qualify as civilians. Now, I know that a lot of Israelis do not, in fact do military service, but the argument is interesting nonetheless.

2) Joseph/Yussef traded one right-wing fanatical movement for another. We find this threatening because a) he discarded Judaism, and b) he discarded it for a movement with ties to terrorism. I understand both of those, but if you talked to some of the right-wing Ultra-Orthodox about their deeply held beliefs, I think that some of them would spout things that are just as threatening and horrifying.

2a) Yussef comments that his interviewer should convert to Islam so that he can die a Muslim and thereby be accepted into Heaven. The (Roman Catholic) interviewer seems concerned and a bit turned off by this, except that Roman Catholicism also has a tenet of faith that the unconverted/unbaptised go to Hell. True, it isn't the worst part of Hell, but still, Hell.

3) Did no one listen to his comment about how Arabs/Muslims don't ride Egged buses because they should know better, and that anyone who chooses to take that risk is taking his life into his own hands? It is an interesting insight into the idea of acceptable casualties, and teaches us that in the furthest right reaches of this movement, losses, of not just one, but many are acceptable and allowable to further religious and political goals. For someone who is so religious, this is a very businesslike model of acceptable loss.

All in all, while I find Yussef/Joseph to be bizarro and fanatical, I'm not sure that he would even be getting an interview if he hadn't grown up in Brooklyn. And, for the record, he mentions that he "was never very close" with his parents. Could that be a potential reason why he was so ready for conversion? So might the lesson be that we should develop close familial and community relationships with our offspring to keep them from fanaticism? Or, then again, maybe not.


Irina Tsukerman said...

Re: The civilians v. military. While in uniform, of course, the people who are serving are indeed the military. However, once the 2/3 years are over, they return to civilian life and thus can no longer be considered military.

For comparison, let's take someone who was drafted 40 years ago in another country, served his time, and then returned home, had family, and a very ordinary civilian job for the rest of his life. Would it really be fair to consider him "military" just because he did a stint of service at some point?

EV said...

Re. "acceptable loss," there's a very interesting/creepy article in the NYT's Week In Review on that topic:

The Pedant said...

Yeah, people totally get TV time because they speak good English.

But I think you're right on the money with the family thing. A close family would tell their kid to cut the "killing people" crap out.

treppenwitz said...

I'm a little horrified that you found the remarks about all Israelis being military (and therefore legitimate targets) 'interesting'. Is that 'interesting' in a clinical or forensic way... like, say, the way a pathologist might find it 'interesting' that a bomb blast could decapitate one bus passenger while leaving the person in the next seat intact but just as dead. I ask because there are some basic ground rules known as the Geneva Convention and International Law that clear up this little point and dictate who may be targeted in an armed conflict (and who may not). Even a soldier on leave is considered a non-combatant if he or she is not armed and not wearing uniform and insignia. For that matter, most militaries add extra layers of rules to keep their soldiers from lapsing into barbaric excesses. These added layers are known as Rules of Engagement. An example of this would be that if a squad of soldiers encounters a group of enemy soldiers sitting around a campfire eating dinner with their guns stacked well out of reach, a call for surrender is the logical first step, not slaughtering them where they sit. That you could entertain the idea that this guy may have come up with an 'interesting' loophole to justify the barbarism inherent in Palestinian terrorism makes me seriously question if it was written by the same person I have been reading and enjoying for so long.

As to your mention of him having traded one right wing fanatical movement for another, I wonder if you realize how silly you sound. First, the use of 'fanatic' to describe a strict adherence to a religion is certainly insulting to the person, the religion or both. But in the case of Hassidic Jews, I think calling them 'ultra-orthodox' would have let everyone know where you stand without being overtly insulting.

This isn't the angry rant you were calling for. Just a disappointed fan.

Annie said...

Trep- I meant "interesting" in the "sort of horrified, this explains a lot" way. Not "oh, how nice, a reasonable explanation."

Also, I didn't mean to imply that all Ultra-Orthodox or Hassidim are "fanatical" but that Yussef/Joeseph's PERSONAL beliefs (which he describes a little) before his conversion. Just as I would never suggest that all strict Muslims are fanatics, nor would I do so for Jews. I apologize if that was unclear.

Anonymous said...

Hey Trep, don't be a punk.

treppenwitz said...

Thank you for your response Annie. That makes much more sense. But in fairness, if you reread your your post it should be clear where a reader might jump to the same conclusions that I did.

As for anon, I think that addressing anyone from behind the veil of anonymity and expecting to be taken seriously is, in fact, behavior consistent with a punk.