Thursday, January 12, 2012

Regarding Jews, HuffPo Will Criticize Anything

It is starting to become clear that no aspect of Jewish life, in America or in Israel, big or small, relevant or irrelevant, that won't be criticized in a somewhat dishonest manner on the Huffington Post. The clearest example of this is a new blog post by Joshua Bloom, brand new Huffington Post blogger and member of Rabbis for Human Rights. His declaration is that Jewish youth movements "Glorify Violence!" Yes, really.

Mr. Bloom begins with a story about being stung by a scorpion while participate in a pretend military exercise as part of a youth group in Israel. He doesn't explain how he got into that situation, presumably someone abducted his family and forced him to do it. He then tells another story about going to a celebration in Israel and seeing (gasp!) IDF soldiers. What a shock that must have been, to see soldiers in Israel. His reaction?
"When I got back to the United States I wanted to find out if my pre-holiday meal experience was unique or if the promotion of violent institutions was still a systematic part of my former youth movement's Israel education."
Promotion of violent institutions huh? I wonder what would happen if I told that to an Army recruiting officer here in America? Anyway, he proceeds under the classic investigation tactic of "confirmation bias." Here is what he found on USY's website (no link though):
"Teach your chapter about the army (everyone knows the basics so try to find little known facts or bring up dilemmas that can be discussed). Conduct a brief soldier training then go using their new gadna training, have USYers go play capture the flag or lazer-tag. Have chapter members come dressed in army regalia."
I didn't say what was so controversial about it until the last paragraph. But really? Playing capture the flag is "promoting violence?" I remember playing lazer tag on a school trip, and college students often participate in Krav Maga classes. I think the army regalia is probably too far though, so I guess I'll give him that one.

Secondly, I actually went and looked up the source of this paragraph, and if you read around it you will find that it is one small part of a larger series of ideas on Israel-related programming. This may not seem like such a big distinction but it makes his next paragraph all the more ridiculous:
"However, putting M-16s in the hands of 15-year-olds, glorifying violence, and playing war games minimizes the real consequences and suffering associated with combat."
 Um, the last time I checked, you chose to pick up that M-16 Mr. Bloom, nobody made you. But I guess maybe this is time for personal anecdotes. When Matt and I were in middle school we participated in NFTY, which is another Jewish youth organization. He did a little more than I did, but at no point did we ever even discuss the Israeli army. In my memory Israel itself was barely mentioned! Maybe some of our readers would like to share their stories about growing up Jewish in America but in my experience you have to go and search out these "violence glorifying" programs if you want to participate in them.

But of course none of that really matters to the editors at the Huffington Post. They see an opportunity to criticize Jews for something (and Israel related, even better!) so they'll take it. No matter how relevant it is to actual Jewish life.

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