Saturday, January 26, 2008

THIS sucks

I recently came across an anti-Birthright article written for "THIS" magazine. Being that I just went on a Birthright trip last August, I thought I would address the aforementioned article. But first, some background information about what we're talking about here.

In brief, Birthright is a program organized by Jewish philanthropists and the Israeli government to give non-Israeli Jews a chance to see Israel at no cost to them. The program is entirely free and is geared towards college-age Jews who have never been to the Holy Land. Every Birthright tour spans 10 days and includes free lodging, airfare and tour guides. Native Israelis who are around the same age as their visitors lead buses full of Jews from one side of the country to the other, showing them ancient cities, beautiful beaches and desert landscapes and a glimpse into the Israeli nightlife. It's a great time and I highly recommend it for anyone in the 18-26 year old age range who can qualify.

As far as I can tell THIS is a Canadian hippie magazine with a clear anti-war, pro-Socialist agenda. The magazine's tagline is:

"THIS Magazine, because everything is political"

And according to their mission statement:

This Magazine focuses on Canadian politics, pop culture and the arts, but in keeping with its radical roots never pulls punches.

Sounds like your run-of-the-mill, anti-establishment, "too hip for the room" features, movie/book/tv/etc. reviews and various articles that tell you what cool people think about the stuff you care about. Basically, the Canadian version of the Village Voice on steroids. Minus the relevance. THIS seems like place where anything indie is awesome and anyone who makes more than $20K a year is a jerk. Hooray!

You would think that with so many pretentious opinions throw at us and so many annoying poems to write, the editors and writers at THIS magazine would be too preoccupied for foreign affairs.

And yet they still found the time weigh in on the current events of a small Middle Eastern country that sits on a piece of land that's even smaller than the American state of New Jersey.

In September/October of 2007, THIS Magazine published an issue

called "The New Apartheid" which of course (as you can see) featured an Israeli flag on the cover.

This entire issue is chock-full of anti-Israel propaganda, featuring articles with names such as “Tear down that wall!” and Birthrights (and wrongs).

Blatant anti-Israel (and anti-Jewish) bias aside...absurdity of an allegedly "liberal" magazine siding with a brutal, racist dictatorship and terrorist regime such as Hamas aside...why on Earth would a magazine that's supposedly pre-occupied with Canadian politics spend an entire issue on a country several time zones away?

Luckily, we can find all the answers in the editor's note, which is rather pretentiously titled: What indie media is for. Really? Bashing Israel is what it's for? Well I guess that makes sense since it seems that just about all indie media absolutely hates the Jewish state but I digress...

In this anti-Israel manifesto, editor Jessica Johnston gushes about how "excited" she was when the opportunity to do a feature on "the growing international campaign to boycott Israel" was "pitched" to her. She makes mention of "injustices perpetrated against Palestinians by the Israeli state" but laments that smearing the Jewish state "is a delicate and tricky matter" (as opposed to the blood libels of the Middle Ages which were so much easier to pull off). She cites the criticism that was leveled at Jimmy Carter as an example of how difficult it is to get away with Jew-bashing these days.

As far as I could tell, nowhere in this issue (and certainly not in the "editor's note") was there any mention of the Palestinian terror campaign of suicide bombings, shooting attacks, lynch mobs, rocket attacks, or any of the literally hundreds of Israeli victims of this savage terror war that is perpetrated on the Jews of Israel by the very leaders Johnston supports. This is not surprising because as we have already covered many times Jewish blood just doesn't matter as much as Arab blood.

In any case, suffice it to say that the magazine and the issue in question is...less than sympathetic to the Zionist dream. Which of course brings us finally to our main event, the anti-Birthright/Israel article by Peter Trainor.

The article, entitled Birthrights (wrongs) begins with the following statement:

“Within hours of arriving, our blood connection to Israel was firmly established. It was impossible to not feel patriotic, but the feeling was artificial, almost sickly sweet.” Personal revelations on the road in Israel

The author Peter Trainor, a self-declared "long-time supporter of the Palestinian non-violent [editor's note: non-violent??? WHAT?!] resistance movement against the Israeli military occupation" was on this trip to allegedly "try to understand the other side of the story."

Trainor briefly describes his family background (a "secular family with both Christian and Jewish ancestry") and some of his experience in the West Bank, which he had visited for five weeks in the spring/summer of 2002 (no doubt in between Spring and Fall semesters in college). How a 10 day Birthright trip is supposed to be equal time to a five-week misery tour of Palestinian refugee camps is beyond me. How a movement that uses suicide bombings and rocket attacks as tactic can be described as "non-violent" is beyond comprehension. But more on that later.

The opening quote came from an experience the author had on the first day of the trip, in Tel Aviv's "Independence Hall" - the place where the founders signed and read the Declaration of Independence. He continues by saying that "the 'good fight' we were being coaxed to join seemed just too good to be true."

It seems that Trainor means to suggest that this program is some kind of recruitment mission for the Zionist cause -- at best. At worst, one could take a statement like this to mean that this was some kind of military recruitment. This of course, is blatantly false. In addition to having gone on a similar trip myself, several of my friends have as well. To the best of my knowledge not one of them has joined the Israeli military or has been "coaxed" into joining any fight whatsoever.

He continues to add to this misrepresentation by writing that he and his fellow Birthright friends were encouraged "to marry a Jew, raise our children as Jews, act as ambassadors for Israel on our university campuses, or even do what Joe [his tour guide]—originally from Boston—had done, and immigrate to Israel, become a citizen and fight in the army." Again, the goal of trip is portrayed as some kind of military recruitment mission. Absurd! For starters, immigrants (whether Jewish or not) to Israel are NOT obligated to serve in the Israel Defense Force if they are above military age. And the truth is that even if they are of military age, women are NEVER forced into combat duty and men can get out of if they really want to. As for his other allegations that they were encouraged to marry Jews and raise their children as terrible! To think that a Jewish organization would want its participants and their descendants to stay Jewish! Scandalous!

Trainor paints an even clearer picture of a Zionist brainwashing program, alleging that his tour guide wanted him to become a "born-again Jew" and that the success of the program was that "only two or three of our group of 40 were skeptical about what we were being taught. I wondered why more young Jews weren’t asking questions about the wisdom of supporting Israel, and its army. And I didn’t understand how Jews, after so many generations of being on the wrong side of intolerance, could justify the oppression of others [Palestinians]."

Since we have already covered the reason why Jews should (read: MUST) support the only Jewish state we have and what the real reasons behind this "oppression" are, I would like to instead examine why Trainor was the only person on his trip who struggled so much with the legitimacy of Israel. Why, as Trainor describes so many of his trip-mates were swept up by love for their state while he remained so miserable that after his Birthright trip he returned to the West Bank to help the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) with their anti-Israel/anti-Jewish activities.

A simple google search turned up some interesting information about the writer of this smear article. Apparently, it's not the first work published by Trainor. In 2002 (ostensibly during his five-week stay at Hotel Ramallah) he co-published an article for al-Haq called Death Traps: Israel's Use of Force at Checkpoints in the West Bank. Not exactly the most neutral person to report on a Birthright trip. Let alone, that Trainor had at least three years between 2002 and 2005 to further indoctrinate himself in anti-Israel propaganda, why wait that long if you were really going to try and see the "other side of the story" ?

Of course one does not just end up on a five-week tour of Ramallah by accident. Obviously Trainor's anti-Israel feelings could not have just happened by accident. Generally secular Jews who come to hate the state of Israel and actively work against it by joining such pro-terrorist organizations as the ISM (more on that later) are anti-establishment, supposed "liberals" like co-founder Adam Shapiro(another jerk I'd love to meet in a steel cage match) who rebel against their heritage and refuse to acknowledge the fact that they are Jews.

In Trainor's case however, it is even more cut-and-dry. His mother,

Vera Szoke, a child of Holocaust survivors who parallels Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel gloats that her son Peter has visited "Palestine" several times. In an interview that appears on the Canadian Islamic Congress website (what a Jewish woman is doing hanging out with an Islamic Congress is beyond me) Szoke refers to "Zionist propaganda" and "brainwashed Israelis" (sound familiar?). She nonchalantly makes the claim that "the Israelis and the Zionists are committing a holocaust over the Palestinians" despite the fact that her own mother is a survivor of Auschwitz!

First of all, if the State of Israel is really committing genocide against Palestinians, they are doing a pretty God-awful job of it since by all estimates Palestinians will outnumber Jews within a few generations. The fact that there are Jews today who can spout this kind of hateful nonsense about their own people is an absolute disgrace. But then, the concept of the self-hating Jew is not a new one and can be the subject of its own book, let alone its own blog.

As if all this wasn't enough to disqualify Trainor as a legitimate Birthright participant with an open mind, his mother is a member of the Alternative Tourism Group - a Palestinian NGO and precursor to the ISM that organizes tours to the West Bank and Gaza, offers help to people who want to be able to slip in and out the Palestinian territories while evading Israeli authorities (gee, who would want that kind of help aside from bored, spoiled college students?) and has been connected to Palestinian terror groups and even al-Qaeda! (allegedly)

Now usually I prefer not to judge someone by the actions of his parents, however it's pretty clear that Trainor is following in her footsteps. The fact that his article is entirely biased and makes no mention of his mother's participation in these disgraceful movements is no surprise. What is a surprise is his brazen attempt to bash the Birthright program as a glorified propaganda mission WHEN HE AND HIS MOTHER ARE ACTUALLY RUNNING A PRO-TERROR PROPAGANDA MISSION TO ISRAEL THEMSELVES.

It is also no surprise that by the end of the trip when he e-mailed his fellow Birthright participants what was doubtlessly more anti-Israel hatred, his tour guide, Joe (who is portrayed of course, as an over-the-top Zionist zealot) responds in the following way:

“Just want to say that I admire Peter’s dedication to this cause even though it is the cause of a people who want to blow up my children. Peter’s misguided dedication proves how people, even intelligent people, can be led astray by masking themselves in the banner of righteousness. This is what Hitler did and this is what Arafat did. You have chosen sides ... the side of my people’s enemy.” Then he asked to be taken off of my mailing list.

No kidding. I'd want to be taken off this clown's mailing list too. You see, the bottom line is that Trainor was never on this trip to "see the other side" - anymore than a CIA operative visits Baghdad "to see the other side." Trainor was there so he could accumulate examples of Israeli zealotry and vilify the program that was responsible for his greatest competition back home.

He, like his mother uses incredible hyperbole to create an image of Israelis as indistinguishable from Germans during the Third Reich -- a shameful practice to say the least. And Trainor ends his article with more use of this garbage:

He [Joe] told us that we were going to yell a message across to the Romans. The message was in Hebrew. Am Israel Chai. He counted to three and we all screamed it out. Seconds later we heard the echo. It sounded like a thousand ghosts were screaming back at us. Perhaps they were.

But is it hyperbole? Or is it possible that there WERE voices screaming back at Trainor?

Maybe...but I doubt it was "thousands of ghosts" -- more likely it was 6 million souls screaming at him and everyone like him that the very thing they are fighting against is their legacy. That legacy is the safe haven they never had when they were abandoned by the world to the Nazi ovens. Trainor and everyone like him are doing everything they can to hijack that legacy and use it to destroy the very thing that would have saved those souls from slaughter -- the state of Israel. It's no wonder that the anti-Israel contingent does everything it can to attack Birthright -- a program whose goals are to show Jews that they can be proud of their culture, history, religion and state. A program like this goes against everything these people stand for. It shakes them to their bones and exposes them for what they are.

So maybe it was ghosts. Maybe it was the memories of all the Jews that have died over the course of history to protect and defend that heritage and that culture.

Or maybe, just maybe it wasn't voices at all.

Maybe, the sound Trainor heard screaming at him, was his own conscience.


aC23 said...

This Peter Trainor character is a complete idiot. Forget the Arabs, we are our own worst enemies.

What an ingrate. He oughta refund Bronfman for the trip.

Anonymous said...

It's so sad that someone who's shining the light on the injustices we are to proud to admit is seen as "self-hating."

When anyone can justify the murder and expulsion of an entire people, all the while calling their attempts to fight back against oppressors terrorism, then it's time to re-examine what you're so proud of.

Did you head down to the beach and watch the fighter planes overhead? What did you think as you saw them flying to bomb the 'others'? Or did you not think anything about it at all?

J said...

Peter might be biased- but you're extremely biased too. You sound like some far right-wing nut that can't tolerate other people's opinions.

When it comes to racism and violence - us Jews can do better - we owe it to our ancestors.

Anonymous said...

"As far as I can tell THIS is a Canadian hippie magazine with a clear anti-war, pro-Socialist agenda.."

Perhaps you have forgotten your roots. It was the Eastern European Jews that were socialist and advocated socialism.

These were the ideologies that Hitler and the Nazi party oppossed and sought to destroy.

The only group to fight back against the Nazis during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, we're Jewish socialists like Marek Edelman and the Jewish Fighting Organization.

Jewish socialists in the early twentieth century fought for fairness, equality, justice, and respect for the working family. Most importantly, they stood up against injustice and wrongdoings. Sounds pretty admirable to me.


RonMossad said...

Thanks for the responses everyone (even the insults) - I appreciate any criticism as I did put in quite a bit of effort to this article. I'll try to address some of the points brought up so far.

RonMossad said...

"What an ingrate. He oughta refund Bronfman for the trip."

I agree. If this guy wanted to do a sociological study so badly he should have done it on his own dime. The fact that he took advantage of a free trip that promotes love of Israel in order to promote hatred of Israel is really the ultimate insult and speaks to the lows that the enemies of the Jewish state are willing to stoop to.

RonMossad said...

"Did you head down to the beach and watch the fighter planes overhead? What did you think as you saw them flying to bomb the 'others'? Or did you not think anything about it at all?"

I'm not sure who you are referring to here. At first I was sure you were talking to me, but I didn't see any fighter planes overhead when I was there. If you're referring to what my general feelings are on fighter planes, I'm saddened that they need to be used at all, but if it's a question of defend myself or die, I'll defend myself every time.

And twice on Sunday.

RonMossad said...

"When it comes to racism and violence - us Jews can do better - we owe it to our ancestors."

This is true. We owe it to our ancestors to defend ourselves against racist murderers who are trying to put an end to our way of life. Unlike our ancestors, who in many cases refused to use violence to defend themselves from violence it is on us to not repeat their mistakes.

As for me being biased, hey I call myself "RonMossad" - what do you expect? ;) The problem would be if I called myself...say, the "New York Times" - now THAT would be a scandal to say the least.

RonMossad said...

"Perhaps you have forgotten your roots. It was the Eastern European Jews that were socialist and advocated socialism."

Ah but who says I'm an Eastern European Jew? In reality, the truth is far worse - both of my parents are Israelis and it doesn't get much more socialist than Israel circa 1940's.

My issue is not with early 20th century Socialists, rather it's with today's far-left socialist "Liberals" that use social issues as an excuse to bash Israel even as they give support to clearly anti-social justice maniacs like Nasrallah and Arafat.

Somehow Israel, a country with a truly liberal socialist heritage, which grants equal rights to all her citizens is to be denigrated, while Hamas (which actively shoots rockets at civilians and promotes violence against Christians and Jews) is to be supported.

It's crazy!

Anonymous said...

THIS Magazine receives tax payer money from two crown corporations/organizations, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

As a Canadian, it disgusts me. Then again, they teach us the relativism of multiculturalism like gospel in public school.

RonMossad said...

^^ Did not know that it was funded with Canadian tax dollars. Just another reason why this magazine is a disgrace to humanity.

I'd say that this is why I'm proud to be an American...but my tax dollars are hardly put to better use in this country...