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In Queens, yet?

By Michael J. Smith on Sunday October 31, 2010 11:10 PM

One of the aleatory pleasures of urban life is undeliverable mail -- things misaddressed, or addressed to somebody who moved away ten years ago. In my building, such material is left on a handy little shelf under the mailboxes in the lobby.

Thanks to this amiable New York folkway, I recently came into possession of a surprisingly thick -- 52 pages! -- and unsurprisingly tedious newspaper called The Jewish Week. It's a bit like reading a model railroaders' gazette. It might not be your thing, but you can sorta see how folks might get into it, and why not?

The difference is that model railroading is apolitical, and The Jewish Week is anything but. The issue I picked up from the dead-letter shelf featured, on its first page, a cri de coeur from Queens (yes, of course there's a Web version) :

Battered By Boycotts

Back in May, when my 7-year-old daughter suggested we host an Israel-themed birthday party, my immediate reaction was, “Fabulous!”

We were walking home from ballet class, where she’d received an invitation to a friend’s Greek Gods and Goddesses party, and she was eager to top that with her own theme. Since I’d been teaching her a little Hebrew and taking her on occasional shopping trips to Kew Gardens Hills’ “Little Jerusalem,” Israel seemed like a natural and easy choice. Having lived in Israel for a year and a half and having recently refreshed my Hebrew in an ulpan, I actually know quite a bit about the state. And Ellie, who is usually the only Jewish kid in her class at public school, feels an affinity for this mythical faraway land (she’s not yet visited) in which Jews are the majority.

My second reaction, sparked no doubt by our passing a Palestinian-American neighbor (with whom I carefully avoid discussing politics) and her children on the sidewalk, was: uh oh.

And sure enough, despite our upbeat invitation promising to teach both the Arabic and Hebrew words for “peace,” despite my carefully worded note to parents explaining that the party would not be political or a propaganda stunt (all crafted amid great feelings of ambivalence in which I indignantly wondered if it was really necessary to apologize for having an Israel party), our August event was boycotted.

There's a great deal to enjoy in this text -- the 7-year-old in ballet class, the need to "top" the classmates, all very Long Island -- but I especially like the "uh-oh" sinking feeling about the Palestinian neighbor. Is this a great country, or what?

I love boycotts. One of the nice things about boycotts is that they're something bien-pensant liberal-schmiberals can actually do -- just buy a different brand, or shop in a different store. Or decline a party invitation from your neighbor, who is probably a bit of a bore anyway.

But really, I had no idea. If this Zionist fanatic -- an Israel-themed birthday party, for Adonai's sake! -- is starting to feel some coldness in the air in Kew Gardens, Queens, Long Island, New York, then we're a bit further along than I realized.

Comments (14)


If Americans boycott Israel, while their own country does everything vicious Israel does and more, on a massive scale, and even funds Israel's depravities...there's something amiss there. Not that I defend Israel in any way, but this becomes almost a whipping boy mentality.

Marcus writes at 01:10:
Not that I defend Israel in any way, but this becomes almost a whipping boy mentality.

True dat, but, still... it's not as if Israel doesn't deserve a good thrashing.

I said, whip it!
Whip it good!


out there in the broad gap toothed spaces

mini me is adored ... by middle amerika
prolly started with otto p's 'exodus'

whipping boy ?? hardly

yes there's some times
an odd inmix of anti semitism
circulating now and again
thru yahoo pals and fambly
but mostly that's disconnected
no link to israel
for the 6 star boys
its still a beaming grin

"gotta love them zionics
.......what spunk what pep
what hoootspaaaah "

the mickey rooney of nations


I'm not saying they are a whipping boy - since the boycott Israel movement is irrelevant - but that if Americans actually took on Zionism but not Americanism it would be pretty silly.

Yes, we should ignore Israel.

The real question is whether there are enough labor unions in America. Everything else pales.

Marcus, wtf are you talking about, man? Opposing Empire America is 24/7 work, and one serious part of it is working to get Israel to stop functioning as our aircraft carrier, and our ideological/racial Mini Me.

Stopping US funding and political support for Israel's homocidal, suicidal endeavors is undoubtedly in the Top Ten to-do projects at present. It's also a project on which the public would massively support the left's proposal, if we were ever to get more than a toenail through the media door.

P.S. A shift to neutrality regarding Israel would, ipso facto, carry with it the string suggestion of getting honest and contrite for US overseas endeavors.

Why do you think its so easy for "the Israel lobby" to get "its" way? Twist my rubber arm, dude.


If Americans boycott Israel, while their own country does everything vicious Israel does and more, on a massive scale, and even funds Israel's depravities...there's something amiss there.

Reflexively pointing to sordid past of other white settler colonies is step #4 in Gabriel Ash's low-down on hasbara. One wonders when the word will join the august company of other foreign origin words in, say, the American Heritage Dictionary. Until then, a little background of the concept, courtesy of Yonatan Mendel:

Hasbara is the noun form of the Hebrew verb 'to explain', in the sense of advocating a position. 'Propaganda' might seem the obvious translation but that might not do justice to the intensity of feeling that lies behind it. A Ministry of Hasbara was first created in 1974, with Shimon Peres in charge; in 1975 it was disbanded and hasbara became a multi-ministerial task. Since then, the importance of hasbara has come to the fore every time Israel has been involved in a major conflict—the 1982 war, the 1987 intifada, the 2000 intifada. In March 2009, two months after the invasion of Gaza, Israel re-established the Ministry of Hasbara; the current minister is Yuli Edelstein.

The hasbara aspect of the Gaza operation was put in train several months before the invasion. In May 2008 four French-speaking Israelis were selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, to visit Switzerland, France and Belgium, where, as the Jewish Agency spokesperson put it, they were to 'deliver the messages that our official diplomats cannot'. 'Stick to your personal stories,' they were told, 'do not be drawn into political discussions. There will be people who irritate you and say that you are occupiers … do not go there.' Similar, English-speaking delegations set out for Britain, Ireland, Holland, Denmark and the US. German speakers went to Germany. On arrival, they gave interviews to the local media; they met members of parliament, members of the Jewish community and local bigwigs and spoke, as instructed, of their own experience—the constant shelling, the effects on their families, their businesses, their daily lives.


In February this year, the government's Masbirim website (masbirim: 'those who explain') drew up a set of instructions for Israelis traveling abroad. The website, which according to the Ministry of Hasbara had 130,000 hits in its first week, aims to 'provide information to counter criticism that might be experienced abroad'. It details Israel's achievements in technology and agriculture, as well as suggesting ways to 'encourage visits to Israel', 'to dispel myths about Israel' and to deal with political criticism. Visitors to the website are advised, when arguing with 'people of other cultures', to 'maintain eye contact … if you look away it might be seen as lack of attention and your argument will lose its force,' and 'to keep generally still … rapid movements can create nervousness and confuse.' The same advice is being broadcast on Israeli television. Further afield, to ensure that the Israeli tourist is comprehensively brainwashed before landing in London or Rome, the Ministry of Hasbara distributes its brochures to passengers about to board El Al flights, and the TV campaign is beamed to aircrafts' in-flight entertainment systems. There is no running away.

When Israel sent 200 soldiers to Haiti to set up a field hospital on a football pitch in Port-au-Prince, the Israeli media crowed. 'What do you think about that, Goldstone?' was one headline. 'Israeli Delegation to Haiti Makes All Others Pale,' said another. 'Well Done Us,' said a third. But the most disturbing was: 'The Haiti Disaster: Bad for Them, Good for the Jews.'


the 7-year-old in ballet class, the need to "top" the classmates, all very Long Island

Yeah, none o' that competition stuff in the People's Republic of Manhattan. I always forget.

Linda J:

this great video (part of a series) from the alternative information center in palestine/israel explains how the boycott of israel if successful, which i believe it has been so far in small ways, will discipline uncle sam.



what's more dangerous for the 'world':
a resurgent anti-semitism in the USA or
a USA funded racist expansionist nuclear armed Israel ?

is there a plausible third choice, given the realities in the USA where the 'good' people are on board with the zionist project and the regular folks' traditional jew hatred is stifled and distracted?

Linda J:

"the regular folks' traditional jew hatred is stifled and distracted?"

what unmitigated garbage! do you have any evidence for this charge?

are you a hasbara (PR) operator for the state of Israel? this is typical of their efforts to meld Israel into Judaism as a whole.


traditional jew hatred:
the history of the USA before 1967. countless examples. the way the greatest generation spoke about jews in my presence until they died off.

holocaust remembrance 'eternity', commemorated continuously on Hy channel, PBS, school curricula, etc. etc.

MSM bias .... both news and entertainment divisions

demonization of muslims in all communications modalities. plus popular culture generally as presented by corporate America. plus our 'mysterious' economic distress that has regular folks scrambling to hold on their stuff and with little time to think about equity issues in the levant.

do your boycotts and divestments etc. but look at the US congress's reaction to the Goldstone report and the pervasive melding of the intelligence and military branches of the two partners if you want to see the present and the future status of the relationship.

the original question remains. if it is a false dichotomy show a third approach that promises net increases in the distance between these vicious twins.

what's more dangerous for the 'world':
a resurgent anti-semitism in the USA or
a USA funded racist expansionist nuclear armed Israel ?
The latter, undoubtedly. Even if the former weren't a chimaera, which it is.

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