Anyone who wants to make an intelligent contribution to the discourse on the proposed Israeli loyalty oath should know that drunk 18-year old Americans are not a representative sample of Israeli or Jewish society. Jenny Merkin knows that. I’m pretty sure Brandon Springer knows that too.
I’m not sure that Max Blumenthal knows that.
In a video that Blumenthal posted on his site last month, he interviews a series of people in the city center of Jerusalem and asks them to swear by a loyalty oath modeled after the oath of the Wehrmacht, Hitler’s army. Most of the interviewees do take the oath, some quite enthusiastically pledging to risk their lives for the “Jewish state” and the “Jewish army.” As Brandon says, this is supposed to be a damning portrayal of how anybody, including Jews, is susceptible to the temptations of fascism.
That would be a great point, except for that most of the people Blumenthal talks to are 18- or 19-year old Americans cavorting in town late at night. I don’t know if Max Blumenthal did stupid things when he was 18, but he’s certainly doing them now if he thinks that we should take this seriously as an indicator of where Jews, Americans or Israelis stand on the loyalty oath. I don’t think this is indicative of anything except for the fact that when you’re 18, studying in Israel for the year and out on the town, you’re liable to do things without thinking about their ramifications.
If Blumenthal is presenting this as any kind of sample of the Jewish, Israeli or American communities, he is indeed being disingenuous, as Jenny said. I agree.
But maybe Blumenthal isn’t interested in having a serious discussion. Maybe all he’s interested in doing is taking advantage of the carelessness of 18-year old kids. If that’s the case, I wish he would stop.
A lot of people–including me and several others at this magazine–have serious, content-based problems with the proposed oath. To combat it, we’re attempting to articulate to our readers why we think it’s bad. We may not succeed in impeding the oath’s passage, but at least we’re being honest in our efforts. I’m not sure I can say the same about Blumenthal.