23 thoughts on “Al-Jazeera repeats Ben Yehudah interviews on Obama

  1. No Jonathan1, it is not. The crime is the apparent total ignorance and pathetic bigotry of many Israeli Jews with regard to President Obama’s religion and race, respectively.

  2. I’m going to share a little secret with you: Any president will face such stupid remarks. Look at all of the things people said about Bush.

  3. The difference of course is that Bush was a douchebag. And 80% of the ISraeli public thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. Makes you think what kind of idiots populate this country.

  4. zzzzzzzzz. this is just catnip for al-Jazeera viewers, reinforcing whatever negative stereotypes they already harbor vis-a-vis Israelis. sure there’s ignorant idiots on Ben-Yehuda street (though I don’t doubt some editorial selection went on in putting this piece together).
    they should take their little man-on-the-street to E. Jerusalem and see how many residents (a) consider Obama to be a Muslim and/or (b) think he is pro-Arab or pro-Muslim in his foreign policy orientation. I bet this guy would get just about the same answers he got on the westside.
    The only difference would be that the E. Jerusalem residents would likely view these things as positive. the Obama-as-Muslim thing is just ignorant; whether he’s pro-Arab or pro-Muslim, i.e. “good for Israel” or not, is just a matter of opinion.

  5. …and nobody ever said Bush was sent by a foreign power to overthrow the US and assist white supremacists in taking over the world.

  6. I’m sure people said a lot worse than that about Bush. Really, who cares, though? That’s just part of the deal in being president.

  7. @Jonathan1, perhaps you can share some links that show that show Israelis being 100% wrong about Bush’s religion, or calling him bad because of the color of his skin (did you even watch the video?).
    First you asked if it was wrong to criticize Obama’s policies, to which the response was no (moreover I don’t recall hearing a single thing about an actual Obama policy). When it was pointed out that the issue was rather that a certain portion of the Israeli public appears to be racist and wrongly believe that President Obama is a Muslim (which he is not), the only argument you have is that saying bad things about a president comes with the job. Or put another way, you don’t have an argument. You really don’t see a problem with Israelis (or anyone else) believing that Obama is anti-Israel because he’s black and a Muslim? Don’t you think it would be generally helpful to be basing their opinions on facts, or at the very least not forming them out of total bigotry?

  8. Last sentence should have read “Don’t you think it would be generally helpful for people to be base their opinions on facts, or at the very least not form them out of total bigotry?”

  9. Fine. It is crazy that in the year 2009 people would say nasty things about the U.S. president simply because his skin is black. Also, it shouldn’t really matter if he is a Muslim (although cleary he isn’t.)
    It’s also interesting to note that there are about 7.5 million Israeli citizens. It’s unclear what exactly al-Jazeera or Joseph Dana demonstrate by walking around a touristy area in Jerusalem and filming a few people who say such insane things–I’m sure you noticed that many of the people in the al-Jazeera tape didn’t have native accents. ((But of course such videos reflect a certain portion of the Israeli public ))
    Actually, I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of people in Israel who can make articulate/sane arguments as to why Mr. Obama is perceived as anti-Israel. But, Joseph Dana would never broadcast such comments. Instead, what he does is find sane people to articulate the views with which he agrees and idiotic people to voice the views with which he disagrees.
    And, yes, getting crazy criticism is part of the job. Obama knows that I’m sure. During the Bush years, what kinds of things were people saying about him? He was retarded? He wanted 9/11 to happen? He planned 9/11? He didn’t care about Hurricane Katrina’s victims because they were African-American. I’m sure Bush knew such things came with the job.
    Between you and me, Ayajewhuasca, did those remarks about Bush offend you too?
    People were saying that Bill Clinton had Vincent Foster killed. Did that bother you?
    Gerald Ford was mocked as a bafoon every week on Saturday Night Live. Would that have bothered you?

  10. I agree with you that the videos show only a small segment of the population and that there are probably many Israeli’s who don’t share these opinions. I also agree that many were not sabras. I also agree that many Israeli people could probably articulate actual Obama policy positions that they don’t like. I also agree that having people say bad things about you comes with the job of being president.
    Am I troubled by some of the comparisons you raised? Yes, but not by all of them. And none of them are so stupid as to suggest that a president is a bad actor just because of the color of his skin or his religion. Even if wrong, most of what you’ve listed are grounded in actual events that led people to draw conclusions, as boneheaded and wrong as they may be.

  11. Amit, thanks for catching the location error, although I’m not sure if changing the article title also changes the url (and I don’t want to risk breaking anyone’s links here).
    Anybody know?

  12. Jonathan1:
    Being a public figure is not excuse for racism. Having met with Max Blumenthal and talked with Joseph Dana about the filming of these videos, what is shocking to me is not that such opinions exist (not at all). What’s shocking is their prevalence and HOW EASY it was to solicit judgments of Obama’s policies because of his race and mispercieved religion.
    I do not brush aside these opinions as quacks. This is serious.

  13. I just don’t have any respect for Max Blumenthal’s and Joseph Dana’s “journalism,” KFJ. It seems like they could easily do their “work” from the other angle and produce the same kinds of results.
    There’s no excuse for racism . . . but what can I tell you–there’s just racist people in the world, including in Israel.

  14. Jonathan, they likely could, but they’re doing an important service by turning up the heat on Jewish extremists and racists.
    In the Jewish community, if you question Zionism, you quite quickly find someone biting at your heels and questioning your Jewishness, your humanity or your intelligence. But if you froth at the mouth and claim that Palestinians are all Islamofascist fundamentalists who should be expelled from Eretz Yisrael or oppressed until they stop fighting, somehow that bigotry is a-okay and part of the family.
    It’s not okay and it needs to be corrected. It needs to be called out and people need to see it to know when to speak up. I have lots of political conversations with vibrant disagreement without having to stop my partner and point out a statement based on racial or religious prejudice and ignorance. But many times I do have to interrupt, and I always will. It’s not okay.
    There’s more to these videos than “Hey, Israelis are bigots!” It’s my concern that we confront this in our personal conversations, and these are examples of statements that should not fly.

  15. If you went to the WB to get the opinion of the Arab street, I guarantee you that most of the answers would be something like “Barack Obama doesn’t care about Arab people.”

  16. BAD Journalism, GOOD propaganda:
    In the introduction to the video interviews, the reporter states, and by nature frames all the interviews which follow,:
    …Israeli Jews to Barack Obama “we’re tired of playing second fiddle to the arab world.”…
    This now, is the message which the propaganda has fed us. We will now read this message into every statement in the video.
    Ofcourse this message is false:
    “Israeli Jews…”
    1) Spending a couple of hours wandering around a public square interviewing people who will give you the time of day, does not allow you to honestly speak for Israeli Jews, by claiming Israeli Jews have said to Barack Obama “we’re tired of playing second fiddle to the arab world.” The most you could say is that this is what we heard when we interviewed people on the street, but even then it is a stretch for most of the people on the street, people with families, people with jobs, people with a to-do list will not spend the time to speak with you. The opinions you gather will be very slanted towards people with idle time like teenagers and elderly folk who cannot speak for “ISRAELI JEWS” and their opinions by virtue of them offering them on one foot, will not be well formulated or thought out. This is not my novel social commentary, the editors of this video know this very well, and they are using it to their advantage.
    2) Although it may be safe to assume that most of the interviewees were Israeli citizens, none of the interviewees identified as Jewish for the purpose of the interview, they never claimed their personal views represented Jews and more importantly that their opinions had anything to do with their Jewish Identity. But that is an undercurrent of the video – this is the JEWISH sentiment.
    3) None of the interviewees were visibly distinguishable as members of the Jewish faith. By that I mean wearing kippoth, tzitzith, Peyoth or headscarves. Because of this, between each interview, the editors of this video have interspersed images of religious Jews walking about and doing their thing. Go back, watch it, you will laugh at how obvious it is.
    “to Barack Obama…”
    1) The questions which they were asked have been removed, and therefore their answers out of context. But it is obvious, that they were answering some form of the question “is Barack Obama good for Israel?” They were not talking to Barack Obama, They were not talking about the Arab world. That is why it was important for the editors of this video to introduce the interview by putting the words “we’re tired of playing second fiddle to the arab world.” into Israeli Jews’ mouth.
    2) But why? why is it important? because although the interviewees thought they were answering if they felt Barack Obama was good for Israel. Their words and interviews have been highjacked and used to answer another question and that is why the editors have framed the end of the video with the statement unrelated to their interviews “Jerusalem will move center stage if negotiations go forward.” and they then follows with the caveat statement of “that is unless Barack Obama changes his tune to try to appease his Israeli critics.” Meaning: because the perception is that Israeli negotiators want Jerusalem off the table. If Barack Obama changes his tune, and by this it is implied that his tune is to divide Jerusalem, he will be doing so not for truth, justice, peace, or law but because he wants to appease his Israeli critics.
    3) and who are those critics? the idle people voicing their sound bit opinions on one foot in the middle of the street to this interviewer about if the US president is good for the state of Israel, and now suddenly the Israeli Jews are saying to Obama “we’re tired of playing second fiddle to the arab world…” take Jerusalem off the table.
    You finish watching this two and half minute video, supplied with your new information.
    and you have been played.

  17. The difference, of course, is that al-Jazeera is a large news network, with various political and financial considerations to take into account.
    Joseph Dana, on the other hand, seems to view himself as someone bringing the “truth” to the world, and in doing so promoting an agenda to which he appears certain is correct.
    Whether or not the effect of his videos is the realization of some of the goals KFJ discusses, Dana appears glibly certain that he’s exposing the thought process of all who disagree with him . . .
    it’s hard to believe he and Max Blumenthal aren’t teenagers–they sure seem to think like teenagers in some of their videos.

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