“But You Don’t Look Jewish!”

This article currently appears in Lay of the Land: https://layoftheland.online/2021/07/21/but-you-dont-look-jewish/

Antisemitism takes on an additional and sometimes distinctly misogynistic element when aimed at Jewish women. *Warning – contains language some may find offensive.

“But you don’t look Jewish”. I have lost count how many times I have heard this. I normally respond by asking the protagonist what they think a Jew looks like. “You don’t have a Jewish nose” is often the response. Epic face-palm moment.

There is a perception that Jews fit a certain stereotype in the way we look. Over the last year or so, as antisemitism rises, so this has come more to the fore and ugly stereotypes are rearing their heads. This time there is a new iteration – singling out Jewish women.

Hurtful Humorist. Comedian Seth Rogan sparked outrage after mocking a Jewish journalist Eve Barlow who wrote an article expressing concern about the rise of anti-Semitism.

Following the recent conflagration between Israel and Hamas, there has been a misogynistic element to the antisemitism that women are experiencing. Movie star joker, Seth Rogan, most famous for toilet humour type antics and smoking his fair share of wacky baccy, piled into journalist, Eve Barlow, after she wrote an op-ed for Tablet Magazine describing how some of the anti-Semitic invective online resembled an “online pogrom”. Barlow was vulnerable, sharing some of the horrendous messages she and many of us who are active online, receive on an almost daily basis.

Rogan’s response was to trivialize and mock this by commenting “Eve Fartlow” – with a fart emoji.

Mature, isn’t he?

Many were quick to defend Barlow, calling out Rogan’s rather flatulent response.

Barlow wasn’t alone. In an op-ed for Tablet Magazine, fierce and fabulous social media maven, Emily Schrader, describes her experience with some of the online trolls. She shares some of her “messages” here:

Go suck Netanyahu’s ball [sic] … Hey slut I will bomb your house.”

Another stated, “Your vagina is so dirty and disgusting, I can assure that it was a rape of an Israeli dog [sic].”

Hmmmm, classy.

An ill Wind. Following twitter users writing “Eve Fartlow” in response to a recent article  by Jewish reporter Eve Barlow (above) on antisemitism,  actor Seth Rogan then climbed into the act  by posting a “gust of wind” emoji commonly used to represent flatulence, further mocking the journalist.

During the height of the conflict with Hamas, a convoy of pro-Palestinian goons drove through suburbs of London where there are large concentrations of Jews screaming:

 “F*** the Jews, rape their women”. Because raping Jewish women is going to “Free Palestine”?

But last week there was an incident that really motivated this article. Fashion designer and podcaster, Recho Omondi, who hosts the show “The Cutting Room Floor”, trotted out some distinctly anti-Semitic stereotypes to “call out” (yes this is a verb from the dictionary of Woke)  ManRepeller Founder, Leandra Medine Cohen for her “privileged upbringing”.

Omondi in this episode, in which Cohen discussed not realizing until recently that she “actually grew up rich” despite being raised in a “privileged environment” on the Upper East Side.

I couldn’t stomach another white assimilated Jewish American Princess who is wildly privileged but thinks she’s oppressed,” Omondi said on the episode after ending the interview with Medine Cohen, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

At the end of the day you guys are going to get your nose jobs and your keratin treatments and change your last name from Ralph Lifshitz to Ralph Lauren and you will be fine.”

Sorry, what? 

From where I write this in the diverse state of Israel, Jews are a kaleidoscope of multiple ethnicities. We are blonde hair (dye not withstanding!) blue-eyed like me, we are Jews from Ethiopia and India, South America and Scandinavia, the USA and Europe. I thought the term “Jewish American Princess” went out in the 90’s like stone-washed jeans and boy bands but evidently not. We are not all “spoilt princesses”. Some of us fled Arab persecution, survived fascism, walked from Ethiopia through the Sudan to freedom and are the descendants of names of relatives that echo through the generations, names of relatives who perished in the Holocaust. To diminish us like Omondi did to nose jobs and hair treatments, negates our noble, proud and more often than not, tragic history.

Picture Imperfect. Recho Omondi (right) was accused of antisemitism for calling Leandra Medine Cohen (left) a “Jewish American Princess.” (Getty Images)

It made me think about a time in my own history when I was personally diminished as a Jewish woman. At the age of about 20, I worked for a radio station. This was a time that long preceded the “Me Too” movement and sexist comments towards female staff was just another day in the office. I was the youngest and only Jew and the running joke used to be that if you broke a mirror or needed to break a curse of sorts, then one should “F*** a Jewish woman – then you will have good luck”.

Charming.

Without the wisdom and confidence of age, my reaction was to look slightly uncomfortable, say nothing and cry in the car as I drove home, feeling humiliated and diminished.

Speaking about my experiences, and these are just a few of many, is deeply painful – but an absolute necessity. We are having important conversations about tolerance and racial discrimination. Not all discrimination or racism is experienced in the same way. For Jewish women, the reduction of us to mere sex objects to be derided or spoilt princesses with bad noses coupled with the usual gross hate invective that is the every-day experience of Jews is untenable.

The Price of Being a Zionist Woman on Twitter. “These days the worst social media crime is daring to be a pro-Israel woman,” writes Emily Shraeder, the founder of Social Lite Creative, a political marketing consultancy firm.

We need to be included in the conversation and we need to be taken seriously – not reduced to fart emojis. This is our lived experience – online and off. We need to summon the courage of our ancestors, because that stubborn, brave, will to survive that was in them is inside us as well and remember who we are. The descendants of queens, matriarchs, priestesses, mothers, pioneers, trailblazers, judges, warriors and Zionesses.

The time for us to roar back is now.

And if my nose is not petite enough for some, it is time they checked their moral compass.

The Days the Cameras Forgot

This article appears on Lay of the Land: https://layoftheland.online/2021/07/14/the-days-the-cameras-forgot/

Palestinians have been protesting against the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority in Ramallah but the global media has been silent. Why?

By Rolene Marks

There is something that happening in the streets of Ramallah that is of huge significance – but has largely been ignored. The mainstream media have virtually turned a blind eye to it and it is not receiving the attention on social media from the armchair generals, social justice warriors and human rights aficionados that is should. What is this significant event I am talking about?

 For several weeks, hundreds of Palestinians have taken to the streets of Ramallah in protest against President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority over frustration and anger following years of corruption and intransigence.  Calls for Abbas to “get out” have resonated throughout the city and surrounding areas on a daily basis and have been met with brutal and often violent crackdowns by PA security forces. Images of protestors, including 5 female journalists, have been shared by brave activists, many of whom have received warnings for daring to expose this.

Not Budging. Despite pressure to resign since the death of Nizar Banat in custody that followed the President’s cancellation of the election that was to have been held in May, 2021, Mahmoud Abbas is standing firm.

Abbas, who is currently in his 17th year of his 4 year term, shows no signs of stepping down anytime soon and cancelled elections that were due to have taken place in May. This led to internationally recognised terror group, Hamas, using the opportunity to push for unrest and shore up their supporters in the West Bank and also conveniently, launching another conflagration with Israel. What ensued was 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas. Hamas fired over 4 300 rockets and projectiles into the Jewish state and Israel responded with a military offensive known as “Operation Guardians of the Wall”. We cannot dismiss that one of the objectives from Hamas was to grow its support base in the West Bank and also, to push for unrest inside of Israel. They succeeded. For several successive days, extremists from both the Jewish and Arab communities rioted and committed acts of violence against each other. Such unrest hadn’t been seen since the 1940’s. While this thankfully, has stopped, there is still a sense of deep mistrust.

Naturally, this captured the attention of a permanently salivating global media.

Sending Strong Message. Following Palestinian demonstrations over the death of Nizar Banat in Palestinian police custody, protestors in Ramallah are seen chanting for the departure of President Abbas and demanded an end to his rule. (Flash90)

What has precipitated these latest protests in Ramallah? Several weeks ago, Palestinian activist, Nizar Banat, died under mysterious circumstances while being taken into custody by Palestinians Authority security forces. Banat was a well-known critic of Abbas. His family have alleged that he was badly beaten during the raid. Hebron Governor Jamil al-Bakri said the public prosecution had issued a summons for Mr. Banat and that “during the arrest his health deteriorated“.

He was immediately transferred to the Hebron Government Hospital. After he was examined by doctors, he was pronounced dead,” he added, without commenting on the family’s allegations.

Voice Silenced. West Bank Palestinian and resident of Hebron Nizar Banat,  a prominent Abbas critic dies in PA custody after ‘vicious beating’ by officers. (Screenshot: Facebook)

But Nizar Banat’s cousin Ammar told the Middle East Eye that about 25 PA security personnel raided his house at about 03:30am. He alleged that officers stormed into the room where he was sleeping, sprayed him with pepper spray and then began beating him with iron bars and wooden batons. They later dragged him from the room, stripped him of his clothes and took him away in a vehicle, he added. Another cousin, Hussein, told Reuters news agency:

They kept beating him continuously for eight minutes. If you came to arrest him, take him. Why the brutality? And why the violence?”

Seeking Justice. Demonstrators on July 2, 2021, hold up images of the late Palestinian activist Nizar Banat, who died in late June during a violent arrest by Palestinian Authority security forces. (MOSAB SHAWER/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Ammar said that about an hour and a half after the raid, the family learned through WhatsApp groups that Nizar Banat had died. He added that they had not been able to see his body at the hospital. “The announcement of his death at the hospital was a ruse,” he alleged.

Grieving Family. Nizar Banat’s family have alleged that he was badly beaten by Palestinian security forces. (Reuters)

That afternoon, hundreds took to the streets in protests that are still ongoing. The PA security brutality did not end with Banat – nor did crackdowns on anti-Abbas voices.

Israeli journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh, tweeted last week that the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation has suspended 10 employees over their social media comments regarding the circumstances around the death of Nizar Banat. Another 36 employees received warnings from the PA security forces for the same reason.

Why would they do that if there was nothing to hide?

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet and the United States  have appealed to the PA to allow the protestors to carry on in peace, a request that seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Ramallah Resistance. The appeal of UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet to the PA to allow the protestors to carry on in peace has fallen on deaf ears.

The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees condemned what they called the ‘organized assaults’ by the security forces on Palestinian women. Three women were beaten by Palestinian security officers in Ramallah during a protest against the Palestinian crackdown on activists.

Riotous in Ramallah. In full protective gear, Palestinian security forces prevent protesters from reaching the PA’s headquarters in Ramallah.

Very soon, the U.N. Human Rights Council will hold its perennial meeting on Palestinian rights but it is unlikely that this will be discussed:

Is it because Israel cannot be blamed?

What does the future hold? It is unlikely that Abbas will step down – or call another election. Hamas is gaining more and more popularity and this not only threatens Abbas rule but also Israel’s security. But the people have spoken. The corruption and brutality is untenable. What is really sad is that not only are they being ignored by their leadership but the mainstream media, usually quick on the draw when it comes to Israel’s conflict  with the Palestinians, have been silent. It would appear that they have their lenses pointed elsewhere and when it comes to the plight of the people, the cameras have been switched off.