Monday, January 02, 2012

Exploiting Holocaust Imagery

This past Saturday evening, there was a ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem against the media's ongoing blistering attacks on the entire Chareidi population of Israel.

Raising people's ire was the use of Holocaust imagery, as demonstrators wore "Jude" yellow stars -- similar to those that Jews were forced to wear in the Nazi era of the Holocaust, and others wore concentration camp prison uniforms.

Every media outlet in Israel reported on it the following day; how outrageous and wrong it was for Holocaust imagery to be used. The NY Times grabbed the story and ran with it (the image above is from their website)...
Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, described the scenes at the protest as “shocking and appalling.”

“The use of yellow patches and small children raising their hands in surrender crosses a red line which the ultra-Orthodox leadership, who are largely responsible people, must not accept,” he added in a statement.

Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust remembrance authority, condemned the use of symbols of the Holocaust, telling Israel Radio that it was “unacceptable.” NY TIMES
Haaretz got into the act and quoted every politician they could find who would slam the imagery.

And yet...the truth is, there's only one reason everyone is upset. It's because the demonstrators are Ultra Orthodox.

When the "social justice" (tzedek chevrati) movement used the exact same imagery this past summer, no one batted an eyelash.

Opposition Leader Tzippi Livni didn't crawl out from under a rock to blast the sacrilegious usage of a yellow star. Defense Minister Ehud Barak was strangely silent. IDF Radio, Haaretz, YNET, TV Channels 2 and 10 overlooked it.

No one cares. Social Justice trumps all. And the Ultra Orthodox will be blamed no matter what they do.

Photo of Social Justice Protestor from this past summer in Tel-Aviv.

The NY Times, Haaretz and YNET forgot to make a big deal out of it. (source)

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josh said...

He's not alone. This was supposedly photographed at a left wing protest yesterday.

Commenter Abbi said...

Actually, I think this was a matter of degree. The charedi demo Holocaust show was clearly highly organized (complete with matching costumes, rehearsed poses and a truck-drawn jail) and it exploited children.

How prevalent were these stars in the summer? Watching the protests on TV, I don't recall masses of people walking arm in arm, dressed in black with yellow stars or a staged show starring children that came on after Shlomo Artzi. If there were a few people here in their who chose wear these, I don't know how much of a news story this would have been.

I just don't see the analogy here, so I don't agree with the analysis.

anon said...

the protest was in Jerusalem's kikar hashabbat not in Ramat Bet Shemesh

Anonymous said...

Only 20 or so people wore the stars in kikar shabbat. Not throngs. It all depends on the angle of the camera.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Abbi: Of course you didn't see the yellow stars this summer. It wasn't in the media's interest for you or anyone to see them.

(And just for the record, I don't think anyone should use the yellow star..that wasn't the point of my post. My post was that the Chareidim will get blamed no matter what they do.

Commenter Abbi said...

There were plenty of shots this summer panning the crowds live. If this was a major "tofa'a" I don't see how the press could have "hidden" it from us.

The stars here were a central part of the protest and the charedim played it to the hilt. Stars were not a central part of the summer protests. That is the difference and that's why it wasn't a big story in the summer.

Anonymous said...

inciting children to hate, where have we seen that before??

Anonymous said...

And one can't forget Yossi Sarid's use of the Nazi-related terminology against the Noar Hagvaot that he hates.

Vox Populi said...

Didn't the settlers wear orange stars during the Disengagement?

Jews of all stripes like to use yellow stars (or their derivatives) to make political points, and their opponents of all stripes like to be outraged. Win-win.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Vox: "Jews of all stripes" -- definitely the comment of the day award :)

Before the disengagement, a Gush Katif resident who was stopped at a checkpoint, and was forced to provide his ID number (the police was trying to keep non-Gush Katif residents out) he wrote his ID number on his arm and showed it to the policeman (and it didnt phase the policeman at all).

Abbi: The press is what makes an issue "an issue" or not. There could have been 20 people wearing stars this summer, which is about the same number of those wearing stars on motzei shabbat. The media chose to make this a huge could have ignored it.

The issue here is that the media reports selectively, reinforcing their worldview.

I have a translation post coming up tomorrow from NRG...showing how a YNET report totally dismembered the "Torani Garinim" in Israel's cities.

Rebecca said...

I wasn't in Israel during the social protests, but I tried to follow them pretty carefully online. I didn't see anything about those protestors wearing yellow stars at the time. Jameel, do you have links to any other photos or stories that talk about it?

I also remember the stars being used during the disengagement protests in 2005.

I think it's time for all of us, left, center, or right, religious, masorti, haredi, hiloni, simply to stop using Holocaust imagery and slogans to further our political causes. I'm on the left-wing, and I find it disgusting when other left-wingers use Holocaust imagery. Anything that's happening in Israeli or American politics bears no comparison with what happened in the Holocaust.

The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

The use of holocaust imagery - especially in Israel, and regardless of who's doing - is nothing but an appeal to emotion, irrelevant to any argument at hand.

It is not merely because the ultra orthodox dress like ultra orthodox that they are catching wads of flak for this. It is because they are spitting on little girls and calling then "prutzah," because they beat up women at bus stops and on buses. To claim for them that they are being singled out for prejudice for their customs, when they are actively making the lives of their fellow Jews miserable in the name of this odd Judaism that they adhere to strikes me as disingenuous as the fellow in the adage who, having killed his parents, begs for mercy because he is an orphan.

You write "And the Ultra Orthodox will be blamed no matter what they do."

I'm sorry, but if what they are doing is lobbying for the right to spit on little girls and beat up women, of course they will be blamed for it - regardless of the mode of protest.

What they are asking for, ultimately, is the right to make their inability to master their yetzers the problem of absolutely everyone around them.

Let them master their yetzers, and no one will blame them for anything.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Reform Baal Teshuva:

"They" aren't lobbying for for the "right to spit on girls".

They feel, and rightfully so, that the media is now pushing the entire Ultra Orthodox spectrum into a corner. 95% of the Chareidi population abhors the spitting at people -- the problem is that it took so long to hear their leadership actively come out an condemn it.

The protestors are not protesting the right to spit at girls...rather they feel persecuted by the media.

They don't want generalizations and stereotypes.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Reform Baal Teshuva: Over the past week, I have made all your points very clear on this please don't think I am an apologist for extremist behavior.

The overwhelming majority of Chareidim agree with you.

Therefore, stereotyping is inappropriate.

The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

Jameel, I've noticed that, and I appreciate it.

But stereotyping isn't willed away. Liberals have long hoped it could be. It has a serious cognitive basis, and that is that the brain indexes things by rubric.

But let me clarify for you what I mean by chillul Torah:

This article in Haaretz demonstrates it pretty clearly

To boil it down to its essence, an atheist Israeli uses the events in Beit Shemesh as a pretext to do a Christopher Hitchens job on the mesorah.

As a believing Jew who cares about his Judaism, I found the article deeply offensive. It seems like people have lost sight of the middle way.

BTW, one of your favorite people, Anat Hoffman, has had ebullient praise for the chareidim who have at last spoken up. So this has not gone unnoticed by the left.

But the problem remains, in this situation, that the use of Nazi imagery does nothing to improve the debate. And I hold that to be the case regardless of who is using it.

The back of the hill said...

I'm not so much horrified at the yellow stars, as the fact that the protestors were (allegedly) members of Neturei Karta.

Mrs Rbs said...

Nowhere in this post do I see the actual condemnation of this horrific abuse of children and the unbridled rage that ANY group be it right or left, would step on the suffering on millions of innocents for their own political gain.. .

Now you can continue to scream and yell about chareidi bashing etc, however as a frum person I will tell you the truth: when the world looks at us they expect us to live up to our external image. time and time again this group of loons destroys the image of goodness and kindness that should be the hallmark of someone who REALLY walks with the torah!

And thats the REAL reason why it always makes front page news. we just inately expect pple to walk the walk not just talk the talk. when the dont, it pains us.

Is it just as wrong for the lefty to wear the star? Of course!! However we dont have an unconscious expectation of him. he is just PLONI ALMONI.nobody special... nobody who presents an image to the masses of Jewish neshamas who all still, for the most part, have their pintele yid and are spiritually connected to their heritage....

I am very sad....

Anonymous said...

Someone told me that JPost is doing an article on this very topic today. Has anyone seen it?

josh said...

Children are allowed to come to protests. The left-wingers do it, everyone does it.

The summer protests were rife with extreme-left and communist imagery, the mass media did not report that angle, but the alternative media did and they could have easily made Daphni out to be a commie, but chose not to.

Reform BT, wearing the yellow star also refers to the time before the incinerators where Jews were persecuted and singled out. It is legitimate to remind people of the time before the Holocaust in order not to repeat it. Godwin's law and all.

Refore BT, the seculars have come out the past week as the most disgusting of all kinds, and absolutely not one of their leaders is condemning them. Over the past two weeks, there are multiple instances of Haredim being physically attacked and otherwise harrassed. Yesterday, reported on Kol b'Ramah radio, a ten year old Haredi girl travelling thourgh Katamon, Jerusalem was jumped on and harassed by a secular who got on her non-mehadrin bus. She felt so threatened and not getting any defense from the rest of the people on the bus that she wanted to get off. The driver would not stop before the next stop for fear of being fined, and when he did finally open the doors, the secular kicked her off, literally. She is so traumatized that the school is organizing a lift for her and friends from now on. The Kikar shabbat site has an 'open line' for Haredim to report harassment, obviously, the regular secular media DOES NOT care. Gideon Levy in Haaretz at least wrote a column about the media going crazy on this, but he did make an interesting and true observation - we care more about a religious girl getting spat on than a Arab girl getting shot. Baruch Hashem, one Jews soul is of utmost importance.

josh said...

Found the story, looks like from Haaretz.

It's now being called the 'Secular Intifada'

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Josh: Its from Yisrael Hayom. I posted it (and others) at the top of the blog.

Rivka: Why are you blaming the Chareidim, when you are just as guilty?

Instead, you have prominent Rabbis denouncing secular education, promoting unnecessary extremism, supporting violent behavior...all while accepting the tax dollars of the Israeli (and American) public.

Here are some sane voices:

"Occupy Beit Shemesh!! Time for the 99% to Be Heard"

An Open letter to the Beit Shemesh Spitter.

Why are you taking an idiotic post from "Matzav" and using that to paint the entire Chareidi community?

sarah said...

I am not chareidi, although I have many family friends in the chareidi community. The people I know are loving, Torah-observant humane individuals who all work for a living and love this country. I am frum and right of center. While I agree that the secular left and it's pet media will gleefully stereotype chareidim (and anyone else not Tzafonim) to make a political point, the other posters here have also made valid points. The chareidi majority is doing little or nothing to counteract the vile pronouncements and behavior of a small extremist sect that (to the non-chareidi world) dresses like and purports to be chareidi. Until the chareidi community as a whole raises its voice in protest against extremists, they too will be seen as part of the problem since they refuse to be part of the solution.

Rivka said...

And who paints the entire Chareidi community, Jameel? The Rabbis, who insist their followers consult them before doing anything, including reporting child molesters!
So what have the Chareidi Rabbis said to denounce the actions of those who they accept into their shuls and yeshivas? Nothing. Can you show me a quote by Shmuel Auerbach? Tuvia Wiess? Yaakov Litzman? Somebody, anybody in power who is willing to stand up and say not just that these people who spit on children and throw stones at ambulances on Shabbat are extremists, but that what they do is wrong? That they must be stopped?
I doubt it.
At least Rafi over at Life in Israel has a post on why their silence makes sense.

Madrassa Moe said...

Hmmm, back in the days when I was a young imam in-training at madrassa, I was taught the very basic concept that two wrongs don't make a right (I guess Jamal attended a different madrassa). And certainly one wrong repeated by two different sectors don't make a right either. More so, does the vile behavior by those supposedly completely void of Torah justify the same vile behavior by those supposedly (and I emphasize supposedly) steeped in Torah? Obviously Jamal has major issues to grind with the Left. Sadly, he is delusional in his belief that the chareidim who hate him and everything he stands for are his friends. I guess Jamal did learn the old adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that this doesn't apply when the enemy of my enemy hates me just as much.

Madrassa Moe said...

Jameel has failed big time on this one. But it isn't just him - take a look at how the Arutz 7 website has covered the latest events. The supposed voice of right-wing Religious Zionism might as well have been the Yated or Der Yid website. And their motivation is the same as Jameel's, the same misguided mindset I described in my earlier comment.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. The Jewish Press took a stance different from these other mainstream religious papers, and strongly condemned it in no uncertain terms:

Ashan said...

I wonder how much Soros money is behind the secular "protests". Dangerous and socially disruptive "social justice" is one of his favorite causes for actions against Israel and the US.

Madrassa Moe said...

That must be it, Ashan, it is George Soros and not the obnoxious behavior of the chareidim which is behind the protests. In fact, George Soros probably paid provocateurs to dress like chareidim and behave like thugs in order to prompt a secular backlash.
And indeed the secular protests are "dangerous and socially disruptive", as opposed to the edifying and socially acceptable practice of spitting at little Dati girls and calling them whores.

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