The Jerusalem Post is very upset by my explicitly tongue-in-cheek, admittedly ill-advised, and at times regretably tasteless whirlwind of rage against them on Twitter two weeks back, after they published a vile editorial that suggested left-wing Jews who advocate for the rights of asylum seekers in Israel secretly desire the state’s ethnic dissolution. They’ve now published two broadsides against me, the latest from Seth Frantzman, who, among other things, fails to disclose that we spent over a week traveling together in South Africa this past August. So much for “unseen enemies.”
In a country where violent attacks against non-Jews and their Jewish advocates are not uncommon, the Jerusalem Post should have thought better than to publish such despicable and incendiary material. But it didn’t. Nor did it give second thought to publishing ever more repugnant and racist incitement against Africans and those who aid them only a few days later, despite ongoing nationalistic violence targeting the African community — including the stabbing of an infant outside the Tel Aviv central bus station that same week.
“Two weeks have gone by since, and it still leaves us marveling at how easy it is to spread hate these days on the Internet,” Frantzman writes of my outburst.
Lack of self-awareness, thy name is the Jerusalem Post.
Can the Opinion Editor of a newspaper whose authors reflixively scorn “self-hating Jews” really be this fragile and hypocritical? Let’s take a look at some recent gems from the pages that Frantzman dutifuly edits. These are among the results of a search on the Jerusalem Post’s website for the word “leftist” — which is an epithet in their newspaper’s lexicon.
Challenging the likes of Marez, or the Swarthmore students, or Max Blumenthal or Peter Beinart to a reasoned debate is an exercise in futility. They do not care about human rights. They do not care that Israel is the only human rights-respecting democracy in the Middle East. They do not care about the pathological nature of Palestinian society. They do not care about the Jewish people’s indigenous rights and international legal rights to sovereignty not only over Tel Aviv and Haifa, but over Hebron and Ramallah.
Being hypocrites doesn’t bother them either.
You can talk until you’re blue in the face about the civilian victims of the Syrian civil war, or the gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia and the absence of religious freedom throughout the Muslim world. But they don’t care. They aren’t trying to make the world a better place.
Facts cannot compete with their faith. Reason has no place in their closed intellectual universe.
—Caroline Glick, The Jerusalem Post, 12/19/13
The American Jewish community faces these increased levels of attacks at a time when radical leftist Jews are using the fact of their Jewishness to attack the very notion of Jewish rights.
—Caroline Glick, The Jerusalem Post, 12/12/13
Israeli liberals need liberating. They have been held hostage by the Ha’aretz-istas perpetual descent from necessary self-criticism into pathological self-loathing.
—Gil Troy, The Jerusalem Post, 11/26/13
When an idea is thoroughly debunked by the facts, wouldn’t you think that intelligent people would change their minds? The world, we now know, isn’t flat. The planet actually revolves around the sun, and not the opposite.
But when it comes to “peace” activists, nothing, but nothing, seems to alter their conceptions: not the bloodbath that drenched Israel ushered in by the Oslo “Peace” Accords, and not the hell on earth that happened to communities in range of rocket fire from the disengaged Gaza – the final straw that debunked the land for peace delusion.
Or so we thought.
J Street, a virulently anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda machine, founded by Jeremy Ben-Ami with money from virulently anti-Israel George Soros, is a perfect example.
…J Street is the resurrection of the bloody corpse of the worst idea anyone ever had about how to achieve peace in Israel.
—Naomi Ragen, The Jerusalem Post, 11/02/13
From these selections we can discern that Jews who oppose the occupation of the Palestinian territories are enemies hostile to the rights of real Jews who have a legal, indigenous, and divine right to all the lands of biblical Israel. These left-wing Jews, who are irrational and cannot be reasoned with, hate themselves for being Jewish and therefore pathologically hate Israel as an extension of their Jewish selves. In fact, they hate the rights of Jewish people so much that they are indifferent to the brutal murder of their fellow Jews by antisemites who seek the total annihilation of the Jewish people. They are therefore indistinguishable from antisemites and should be dealt with as such.
If that’s how the Jerusalem Post refers to liberal Zionists and Israeli left-wingers who are “politically different,” I’m sure you can surmise their treatment of Africans, and worse yet, Palestinians. And that’s just a quick, non-exhaustive search of the last two month’s material.
And yet, blithely unaware of the things that are printed on opinion pages bearing his own name, Frantzman is incensed by my hostility, and downright perturbed by my recognition in the Jewish community.
“Daniel Sieradski was described by The Forward as a ‘major figure in the Jewish Internet world and a cultural trailblazer,’” he notes, as if to shame The Forward. He’s seeded bits of my resume and CV throughout his piece, thereby triggering many a Google alert, and, he hopes, a blacklisting. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that my repute was earned specifically by screaming at people like him on the Internet, and saying what others wish they had either the nerve or freedom to say.
I can’t understand, though, why he finds it “particularly galling” that I directed my anger at the people specifically named in the byline, Jerusalem Post Editorial. Are those not the editors of the Jerusalem Post? Should my anger have been directed elsewhere? At some other newspaper? Perhaps at some amorphous phantasmal construct of a Jerusalem Post? A faceless corporation? Should we shout only at the words on the screen and not their authors, editors, and publishers? Shall no editors of the Jerusalem Post take responsiblity for the words published in their name?
Frantzman wrote me the day before publishing his piece, which he also doesn’t bother to mention, offering me “the opportunity to apologize.”
I am writing an article about online hatred and I am mentioning your twitter posts directed personally at me. In a tweet at 7:16pm, January 7 you wrote “@sfrantzman @RonithHasin May every ill that befell Sodom befall you and those you hold dearest.” That tweet seems subsequently to have been removed, but I have a screenshot of it. I want to provide you the opportunity to apologize to me for wishing ill on those I hold dearest and explain why you deleted it.
I cringe reading that tweet in retrospect and I do regret sending it. Which is why I spiked it. But I said this matter of factly, and told Frantzman as much.
The ills that befell Sodom came because the people of Sodom were cruel to the wayfarer — they savaged the poor and destitute that came among them in desperate need. (See Genesis Rabbah and Pirkei de Rebbe Eliezer, for example.) The incitement of your editorial page against African asylum seekers and those who seek to aid them is no different, in my opinion, than the way the Sodomites (it is recounted in Talmud Sanhedrin 109a) publicly executed a woman who distributed food to the hungry. That act is what sealed the fate of Sodom.
I was disgusted by your paper’s editorial, and enraged by its characterization of the Jewish left as those who seek the destruction of Israel. But I acted hastily and wrongfully by personalizing my response and wishing ill on those you care for. I shouldn’t have stooped to your level, in wishing ill on anyone, as you do those fleeing genocide, state persecution, and forced conscription. While I do apologize to your family for dragging them into it, I will not apologize to you. For your promotion of cruelty towards the suffering, you have earned every ounce of scorn directed at you.
“There is a sewer of hate speech on the Internet,” writes Frantzman, “much of it not from leaders and activists but from kooks.” I hate to mix milk and meat and metaphors, but Frantzman told me outright this summer that feeding kooks red meat is the Jerusalem Post’s bread and butter.
“But these particular tweets,” he continues, “and what they symbolize are important in terms of how Jewish organizations respond and in general how society responds. Those who hold positions of authority need to be held accountable for their behavior on the Internet and in public. This is a two-way street.”
Here, Frantzman is suggesting that I be disenfranchised from the Jewish community because I hold a position of authority and must be held accountable for my behavior. Funny that.
I stepped down from Jewish blogging full-time in 2007, when I went to work for JTA. I completely resigned from Jewish professional life over two years ago, after I was pushed out of my job due to my involvement with Occupy. Growing weary of my experiences with “progressive” Jewish institutions more interested in getting an invitation to the White House Chanukah party than in pushing the administration on anything that mattered to them under Bush, I stepped down from every board position I held and all of my volunteer positions. Unable to bear any longer the acrimonious nature of the debate, I publicly withdrew from Israel activism — which I have only recently gone back on because of the refugees. I even went so far as to delete the vast majority of contacts I had made in the Jewish world (who were not personal friends) from my social media accounts, whittling my Facebook friends down from 4,500 to 600. I’ve barely written. I’ve barely given any interviews. And I’ve barely been freelancing for Jewish clients. And to top it all off, I’ve moved four and a half hours from New York City to a town with practically zero Jewish community and took my first job at a for-profit, non-Jewish business since high school.
To therefore suggest that I am some kind of powerful authority in the Jewish community is hysterical. I’m wholly disenfranchised. I’ve self-deported. I’m just some schmuck in yehupitz with a Twitter account lobbing verbal grenades at racist assholes, not the editor of a daily newspaper with a million readers inciting hate crimes on the streets of Tel Aviv.
Really, who ought to be held to account here? This is, after all, a two-way street.
Whether I have done a disservice to asylum seekers remains to be seen. I acknowledge that my outburst was impolitic and strategically unproductive, and it gave the Jerusalem Post the example it needed to paint the Jewish left with an ugly broad brush. But if this experience and now dialogue gives even one of the Post’s editors pause before subjecting asylum seekers to further indignities in column inches, it will have been entirely worthwhile.
See also: The Refugee Argument, my response to David Brinn’s editorial castigating me.