By now, everyone has heard the one about the two guys sitting next to each other on a Tel Aviv bus. The guy looking at Haaretz can’t believe that the fellow sitting next to him is reading Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda. Says the latter, “By the time you get to the office, you’ve read about four countries boycotting us, three major scandals in Knesset, and the latest threats by Ahmadinejad to incinerate us. Your day is ruined before you start work. Me? I read in my paper that the Jews control all governments, manage the world economy, and are slowly but surely succeeding in world domination. I get off the bus feeling great!”
If that works, so should the opposite. Sometimes we have to take a look at what the other side is saying about us to make us feel bad, not good.
I often wrestle with a temptation to bring my day job to this blog. I almost always resist, because I believe that it should be a place for Torah and current events, not for politics. There are enough sites for that. Every now and then, I fail, and give in to temptation. This is one of them.
A group of UK (where else?) musicians cooperated on the production of a video single, “Freedom For Palestine.” The music and production is quite good. Musically, it is a combination of what the cognoscenti call contemporary urban gospel, with some Middle East influences and a few hip-hop grace notes.
It’s lyrics are best described as Josef Goebbels with a guitar. They are ugly, counter-factual, primitive and completely delegitimize Israel. This episode of the Big Lie, foisted on millions of clueless young people who eagerly swallow slogans, makes reference to apartheid, racial segregation, illegal occupation, and six million refugees forced from their homes.
The UK cosmetic company LUSH has promoted the song as one of its social-conscience charitable projects. (LUSH North America has tried to describe itself as completely separate from the UK firm. It isn’t. They are both owned by the same folks.) Proceeds of the campaign will go to a charitable organization to aid Palestinians. (The organization among its other activities, funds boycott, divestment and sanctions activity against Israel, and was chaired for several years by terrorism defender and Israel hater George Galloway.) In other words, whatever it will do to your skin, it will do something else to your humanity. LUSH will make you ugly.
Promoters of the song want people to buy it, and push it to a high enough position on the UK charts that it will have to be played on the radio. Last week was especially targeted, but the song did not get any higher than #79. It is now spreading to other parts of the world. Coldplay, an extremely popular band, originally linked to it from their FB page, before complaints forced the removal of the link.
You should watch it, for two reasons. (I don’t think there are any female solo parts, but I could be wrong. I was doing other things while watching. You may have to keep your finger on the mute button.) First of all, I hope you will be infuriated by it. Perhaps somebody among the infuriated might have enough contacts to get some pro-Israel talent to release something of this caliber. They say that there a few Jews in the entertainment world. Stupid, shallow propaganda pieces like this song are capable of planting more images in young people than a dozen Edward Saids. We should be pushing back in kind.
Secondly, if you cannot adequately and eloquently refute the charges implicit in the song’s attack words, then you can’t claim to be doing your share to help our embattled people. You just are not equipped. Do some reading, and then do some more talking with acquaintances, especially non-Jewish ones, so that people will know enough not to be taken in by agitprop like this song. (You can, of course, anesthetize yourself to what is happening by humming a little lullaby telling yourself that the situation is not really so bad, or that it doesn’t “pas” for frum people to be so involved in hand-on advocacy for Israel. Try not to notice, while you are humming, the item in today’s new about the beloved Quartet. Their recent meeting about bringing about a peaceful solution was generally fruitful, but ran into a bit of difficulty. Not about settlements, or Jerusalem, or refugees, or water. The really tough one was whether or not to accept characterizing Israel as a Jewish state.)
I wish I say, like the guy on the bus, that I now feel better, cathartically purged. Unfortunately, having written all this, I feel worse than before I began.