Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An insult to American Jews?

Last month, there was a big kerfuffle over some ads created by Israel's Ministry of Immigrant Absorption that were meant to encourage Israeli expats in America to return. The ads were a bit heavy-handed, but the reaction of anger was explosive.

Jeffrey Goldberg started it off with saying "I don't think I have ever seen a demonstration of Israeli contempt for American Jews as obvious as these ads." The Jewish Federations of North America said it was an "outrageous and insulting message." Abraham Foxman called them "demeaning." The ministry pulled the campaign because of all the publicity.

Now, an Israeli TV show (Eretz Nehederet) is lampooning American Jews as buffoons, taking aim at Jews who go to Israel on Taglit/Birthright trips. (Sorry, no English subtitles.)

While it is true that the first "insult" was from the Israeli government, and the second is on a humorous TV show, will American Jews get all upset over the skit in Eretz Nehederet? Is it an obvious "demonstration of Israeli contempt for American Jews"?

Is being insulted a function of the source, the content - or the observer?

For the record, I do not find either video to be insulting, and the Eretz Nehederet one is pretty funny in that black humor way that Israelis enjoy. The spoof doesn't make me think any less of Birthright.

Both of them contain a grain of truth that is hurtful to some - generally those who need to think a little harder about their own Jewish and Zionist identities.