SPEAK! Listening Party in Long Beach, CA!

Remember that awesome CD that’s out right now? The spoken word collection that features the work of BFP, Black Amazon, Little Light, and so many others? The one that combines personal history and movement making in truly inspiring ways? If you live in or around Long Beach, CA and haven’t heard it yet, now’s your chance! On Sunday, June 14th, Petit Poussin, Christine, and I will be hosting a listening party from 2-5. As we listen to the CD, you’ll be able to participate in discussion and respond by making your own media, whether it’s visual art, handwritten text, a zine, blogging or twittering, or whatever combination of the above you can come up with. Afterwards, we’ll sit down to a potluck dinner. CDs will be available for sale – remember that all proceeds go towards getting single mothers to the Allied Media Conference next month.

Address available upon RSVP. A quick warning for people with allergies: a friendly medium-haired cat will be present.

RSVP to modernmitzvot at yahoo com or ppoussin at gmail com!

Bernie Madoff and anti-Semitism

The Boston Review issued a survey recently, and surprise, many blame the Jews for the financial crisis:

In order to assess explicit prejudice toward Jews, we directly asked respondents “How much to blame were the Jews for the financial crisis?” with responses falling under five categories: a great deal, a lot, a moderate amount, a little, not at all. Among non-Jewish respondents, a strikingly high 24.6 percent of Americans blamed “the Jews” a moderate amount or more, and 38.4 percent attributed at least some level of blame to the group.

While the article seems to mostly discuss Bernie Madoff and his standing among non-Jews, there is something here we can’t ignore: when something goes wrong economically in a country, it’s Jews who are to blame. The media going to lengths to point out Madoff’s being one of us, with all the baggage that carries, is not actually helping us at all.

I have to confess that I was not surprised about the breakdown between Democrats and Republicans; Republicans and especially the Christian Zionists are certainly not friends of ours, and Democrats may not actually be left-wing, but it’s not surprising to me that at least those nominally left-wing surveyed tended to blame us.

Anyway, the bottom line here is this: in the United States we have enjoyed mostly benevolent interactions unprecedented in our history, but even here when things go bad it could be bad for us. It can and does happen anywhere.

What do we do? We get punished from people when we don’t engage with them and stick to ourselves, and leave ourselves vulnerable when we do and things like this happen.

While I’m going to find a cite for this later, along these lines, 2008 was an all-time high for the province of Alberta in reported anti-Semitic incidents.

Birkat Hachamah on Colbert!

Funny Colbert clip (via The Black Jewish Experience):

(Seems like I’m never able to embed Comedy Central videos…) http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/224061/april-08-2009/birkat-hachama—stephen-frees-his-jews

So, uh, quick poll – how many of you knew that, when the Jews came out, they’d be 100% white (looking) men?

Because either I should start telling fortunes for a living, or the kyriarchy is pretty predictable.

Waltz With Bashir Animator Takes On Gaza

Via JVoices:

(Cross-posted on Alas, A Blog.)

This is not my community.

Two Israeli ad campaigns in recent years: “Israel: No one belongs here more than you” (“you” being the white middle-class American tourist) and “Israel: Not What You See in the News!” (paraphrased)

Number of Gazans dead today: at least 200.

If you can’t figure out why this is unacceptable – if you insist on an eye-for-an-eye mentality, in which one Israeli eye is worth an infinite number of Palestinian eyes – then quite frankly, you’re a privileged fuck with no concept of how violence is perpetuated or what the phrase “human rights” actually means. (And will I delete your odious, bigoted comment? You bet.)

EDIT: Matt points out the problem with my use of the phrase “an eye for an eye.” More explanation here.

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

Where’s Our Vocabulary?

I’m sure many of you have seen this Onion article:

Area Man Saddened To Realize Short Jewish Women With An Interest In Theater His Type

CHICAGO—While reminiscing about his romantic past Monday, area resident David Simms was shocked and a little saddened to realize that short women belonging to the Jewish faith and possessing an active interest in the world of theater have always been, and will always be, his type.

“God, how did I never notice it before?” said Simms, taken aback by his unexpected discovery. “Rachel, Sarah, Devorah—Miss Katzenberg, the weekend director at the Israeli Arts Center—it’s all so obvious now.”

“Squat, theatergoing Jews,” added Simms, shaking his head in confused wonder. “I’m totally into squat, theatergoing Jews.”

Okay, there’s enough offensive stuff in here to warrant a whole other blog post – the humor in the article is all based on presenting Jewishness, shortness, and (implied) fatness as undesirable – but that’s not what caught my eye. Notice the wording in the first paragraph:

hile reminiscing about his romantic past Monday, area resident David Simms was shocked and a little saddened to realize that short women belonging to the Jewish faith and possessing an active interest in the world of theater have always been, and will always be, his type.

So Jewishness is clearly a matter of religion, right? Not ethnicity, race, or culture? Hmm. Take a look at these snippets from the rest of the article:

“I always just thought I liked brunettes, or was, you know, a ‘breasts’ man…. I’m going to fall madly in love and raise a beautiful family with a short, curly-haired theater buff….” As long as his date is at least half-Jewish, appreciates some form of live performance, and can be picked up off the ground with relative ease, Simms said, he would be willing to see where things go.

Despite the article’s initial implication that a Jewish identity is based solely on faith, it goes on to describe Jewishness in physical and genetic terms. Simply put, the article can’t help but contradict itself.

I bring this up because this exact contradiction has been around for decades and decades. Jews and non-Jews constantly fluctuate between religious and ethnic terms to describe Jewish identity – very often, as in this case, in the same publication. Hell, whenever I try to talk about my half-Jewish identity, or describe anti-Semitism in the context of broader systems of oppression, I can’t help but resort to terms like “biracial” and “racism,” even while I maintain that Jewishness isn’t a race. It’s not the fault of individual writers; the blame lies with an astonishingly limited vocabulary to describe our identity. Do I call myself “biethnic?” What elegant variation should this writer have come up with besides “belonging to the Jewish faith?” (The article uses “Jewish persuasion” later on, which is just as bad.) “Jewish culture,” maybe? I have a feeling that readers would have been mildly confused by that – and then gone off pick up a bagel and the latest Philip Roth novel.

(Also, I should note that I think “tiny, artsy” Jews are hot. Just sayin‘.)

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

Converting for the Jokes

Via Heeb – Seinfeld in Yiddish:

I’ll have you know, you insensitive bastards, that my Jewish father IS a dentist. Where’s the intersectionality!?