Getting it Straight


Shawn Landres wrote in to criticize the piece about media silence in the face of certain Muslim countries’ rejection of Jewish/Israeli aid for tsunami victims. I thought he missed the point, so didn’t post it – but as he seems pretty agitated and commented a second time, I thought I’d throw it up here together with my reaction to see whether people think the truth lies with him, with me, with neither.

Mr. Landres writes:

Apparently I need to repeat myself. Itís not always about the Jews. Itís not always about Israel. Give me a break. This catastrophe was not about the Jews!!! Itís about the 150,000+ victims and countless survivors who are suffering unbelievably.

Why do you need to repeat yourself? You made your point, but it was beside the point of the piece – which, imho, you completely missed.

The world is interconnected – of course the tsunami is the catastrophe, but the point this guy raises in his piece is not about the tsunami. He’s talking about something else. He’s talking about an acute illustration of a chronic problem relating to irrational hostility to Jews – something which is worth mentioning lest it get lost – drowned out by the immensity of the tsunami.

Specifically, he’s talking about mainstream media’s contribution to anti-Semitism by its chronic double standard. In that context, by the way, since you claim to be concerned about victims and survivors and suffering, it is worth noting because Jew-hatred has, in fact, been aided, abetted, promoted by organs of the media and caused millions of victims/survivors/suffering over the years (usually Jews, but many others as well – including, by the way, thousands of tsunami survivors whose suffering might have been lightened) – and modern media bears responsibility for fomenting the attitude that, for example “Israel is the greatest obstacle to peace in the world” and endlessly, credulously (in many cases, disingenuously)bemoaned the fictional Jenin massacre.

Again – do not miss that point. I am not comparing catastrophes – I’m not comparing tsunamis and pogroms – I am connecting the point being made for you to its context because you keep being diverted by your perceived relationship of the issue to the tsunami and the author’s point is not related in any way to the tsunami; it is related solely and entirely to the actions of individuals – the grotesque double standard of the media which countenance even the most egregious and blatant Jew and Israel hatred. You can’t hold a tsunami accountable; but people and cultures must be moral actors and must be held accountable.

Now, you can refute his facts if you wish, and that would be interesting – it’s one of the reasons I posted it – to see if anyone could show that he was wrong; look at the title of the original post – and, indeed, another reason I posted (again, look at the title of the post) was that I thought the tone was more worked up than analytic, which detracted from the author’s essential insight – but your diversion of the discussion from the evidence of outrageous media anti-Semitism in order to criticize Jews for being chronically insensitive to the suffering of others (“Its not always about the Jews”) is detestable. In fact, you’ll pardon the observation, but it seems as though you’re the one who is obsessed with making this all about the Jews.

[Your aside that he, in any case, gets his facts wrong because the UN lists Israeli aid, whether the UN does or not, also is beside the point – which is media silence in the face of blatant and grotesque Jew-hatred exascerbated by the evidence of the incredible moral decency and generosity of the Jewish people and Israel and the relative scandalous heartlessness of the Muslim world in their reactions to this tragedy.]

Stepping out onto a limb a bit, I also think that you might bring lots of baggage in the form of a fairly extreme personal worldview to this issue – correct me if I’m wrong – and I mean it seriously, I want you to correct me if I’m wrong – but aren’t you an advocate of the idea that Jews can and should hold hands with the Muslim countries and leaders of today but eschew those you call the American “Christian Taliban” – a rather disgusting, hateful and bigoted phrase for Christians who, among other things, support Israel and remain skeptical of Muslim intentions? And could it be that your agitated protestation (essentially: silence in the face of evidence that Jew-hatred runs deep throughout the Muslim world ought not be discussed by Jews) might be your agitation over having your fantasy bubble burst? Just wondering.

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10 years 10 months ago

Shawn, we’ve each had our say – I think the really juicy stuff that remains is all in section 2b/3 – so that’s what I responded to. But I post herewith your comments in full. (Mine are in bold.)

1. The matter of the original post:

If you are recanting now in substance or in tone, then thatís fine – but my adjectives to which you object reflect a reaction to the inflammatory post you wrote then, not to what you are saying now.

I regret if you took the published comment to be a charge against you; I intended it against… Read more »

10 years 10 months ago

Jeff, I think it’s pretty clear that you and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I appreciate your having taken the time to respond, but I do have some concerns about your last paragraph, particularly the comments about “extreme personal baggage.” and a “fantasy bubble.” You invited me to correct you if you are wrong. I think you are. To move the debate forward, I have four specific points:

1. My substantive objection to the original piece was the use of the tsunami as an excuse to compare media attention to Israel as opposed… Read more »

Yitzchok Adlerstein
10 years 10 months ago

Pardon me, but Shawn Landres IS quite Jewish. Moreover, his tone of discourse is far closer to the tone of some others I have seen in the Comment area lately, and closer to the set of Rules about comments (e.g. lashon hora, ad hominem arguments, etc.) that will soon be released and posted.

Right, Yaakov?

10 years 10 months ago

Hoo boy. Butting into a Jewish site – where Jews talk to other Jews about Jews, Judaism and Israel -to tell us what’s wrong with doing just that threatens to break the spring on my hutzpah-meter.


It’s about the Jews if we say it is. It’s about Israel if we say it is.

Of course, the actual J’Accuse about Muslim states forbidding Jews from setting foot on their (devastated) soil was neither about Israel or about Jews, but about a certain Muslim obsessive / compulsive phobia (or whatever the proper term might be for looking… Read more »