You’re a United States senator. In a moment of irredeemable candor, you publicly questioned the State Department’s decision to sell Class 8 delayed-release nano blood bombs (aka “the Scarlet Mist”) to the Israeli Defense Forces. Now you’re being “called-in” to Listen To The Community about your lack of support for Israel, which (so you have been informed) is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism. Who do you listen to? You may choose more than one answer.
- AIPAC spokesman
- Wealthy Evangelical gun heiress who is also a fervent Zionist
- A lefty Jewish journalist
- A dead Palestinian toddler
- Correct. Look, if you don’t talk to AIPAC, they’ll lobby on behalf of your opponent. I mean, not lobby. That’s anti-Semitic. A pro-Israel lobbying group doesn’t lobby, they persuade with the implicit promise that donor money can be given or taken away. Ugh. You know what? You’re not good with this anti-Semitism thing. It’s almost like you can’t say anything without offending, as if accusations of offensiveness are cynically wielded as a shield against criticism. You’d better let the AIPAC spokesman write your apology.
- Also correct. You need the gun heiress and her family on your side if you’re going to have a chance of passing your bipartisan immigration bill (SR 145: Hugs Before Deportation). Ok, sure, the gun heiress isn’t Jewish, and her version of Zionism involves moving all the Jews to Israel before killing or converting them in order to initiate the apocalypse, but hey. She insists she loves Israel. She doesn’t have any problem with the Jews. “Why, some of my best lawyers are Jewish!”
- Maybe. I mean, if you have to. With the right spin, it might be good optics to sit down with a Jewish critic of Israel for an interview. Of course, you’ll be doing the talking. Journalists do the listening.
- Wrong. You can’t talk to the dead, silly. And besides, the AIPAC spokesman assures you that the Palestinian toddlers were throwing rocks, or being used as human shields, or digging smuggler tunnels with their toy shovels. And if they had toys, were they really so badly off? Checkmate, anti-Semites.
You’re the police commissioner of a medium-sized city. There’s been an increase lately in anti-Semitic hate incidents: swastikas scrawled on sidewalks, broken windows at a synagogue, the town statue of Mel Brooks vandalized with a Hitler mustache. Given the ramp-up of violent anti-Semitic incidents countrywide, your citizens are frightened. Who do you listen to? You may choose more than answer.
- The local Jewish community
- Members of the local chapter of the Hebrew Anti-Sanctions, Boycott-Advocacy-Resistance Association (HASBARA), which opposes BDS
- President Trump
- Your friendly neighborhood neo-Nazi organizations
- Correct, of course. You have to listen to the Jewish community, really listen. You are super listening. You throw a special town hall where you listen. It’s so horrible that one of your local minority groups is being terrorized by violence. Just don’t let those pesky Black Lives Matter activists in at the door. They’ll only confuse the issue.
- Especially correct. You listen and you are OUTRAGED. Clearly, anti-Semitism is being ginned up by haters of Israel who want the local college to divest from Israeli Phosphorus Bonds and pointedly refuse to buy Sabra hummus, even when it’s on sale! With HASBARA’s guidance and your recommendation, the city council passes a law forcing all businesses, Little League teams, and newborn infants to sign a pledge declaring they will never, ever support BDS, and plus they’ll buy Sabra hummus whenever they see it, even the sun-dried tomato flavor.
- Correct. You have to listen to the president—after all, he was supported in 2016 by a whole 25 percent of Jewish voters. And what does the president have to say about the rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S.? Leftists are to blame, and Muslims and immigrants and outside agitators, all of whom are embodied in Ilhan Omar, the worst anti-Semite in American history. Does this ring true for you? You have arrested a few young hooligans linked to the swastika-scrawling incident, but they were just white kids in their late 20s from good families. You released them on their own recognizance. Maybe the president is right. Maybe the attacks really are coming from a cabal of Muslim immigrant leftist agitators. In order to be sure you’re keeping your Jewish citizens safe, you request—and receive—federal funding to surveil the local Syrian refugee population.
- Correct. I mean, you were going to talk to the neo-Nazi groups anyway—it’s almost time for their twice-yearly call. You wouldn’t say you condone their ideology, exactly…but it’s true they need protection at their rallies. One time, six whole Antifa members showed up! You had to pepper-spray those Antifa bastards thoroughly in order to preserve the peace. Everyone, even neo-Nazis, has the right to feel safe in public.
You’re a TV executive at a major media corporation. Your social media team reports a lot of negative chatter about your new show, IDFearless. It seems that some people object to the show’s depiction of Palestinians as terrorist teens and ruthless killers. Other people are objecting to this criticism, calling it anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, which are, of course, one and the same thing. Who do you listen to? You may choose more than one answer.
- The liaison assigned to your show as part of your partnership agreement with Mossad. (You’ve also partnered with Mitsubishi for product placement, and nobody seems to be upset about that!)
- The people in your Twitter mentions
- Imprisoned Palestinian teenagers
- Absolutely. He’s your liaison, after all! Plus, he’s become your gym buddy. The Mossad liaison assures you that the attacks on the show are coming from anti-Semites who hate Israel and want it to be destroyed. Whew. You don’t have to change a thing. It’s a good thing you listened to Jewish voices—well, one Jewish voice, who happens to literally be the agent of a foreign government. But he’s cool; he’s teaching you about safe, effective, muscle-building supplements!
- Yikes. Which people? I mean, most people on Twitter are bots. But they’re starting to threaten your sponsors, and Mitsubishi can’t have that. Quickly issue a number of placating tweets. You’ve heard loyal viewers’ complaints and you’re really trying to grow, both as a show and as flawed human beings. Next season, you’re adding a sexy Israeli Arab sniper to the IDFearless Roster. She is a Strong Female Character who doesn’t take shit from anybody, especially terrorists.
- No. I mean, you’d like to, but you can’t. How are you going to talk to Palestinian children imprisoned halfway across the world, held for years without bail or trial, often not even accused of a crime? Your assistant looked into it, but it was a whole thing, and it’s time to hit the gym again anyway.
You’re a journalist for the New York Times, sent to Jerusalem on special assignment to cover Israel’s birthday celebration. There’s going to be a special flyover featuring the brand-new, fully autonomous Shrieker Drones. In a recent French magazine, the Shrieker Drones have been depicted wearing horns, big noses, and dark curly beards. Which groups of people should you interview for your article on the birthday celebration, which will also touch on the Israeli response to the French magazine cover? Again, you can choose more than one answer.
- Ethiopian Jews and other recent immigrants from Africa
- A coalition of leftist Israelis and Palestinians working for a Free Palestine
- Settlers from Brooklyn
- No. It’s true that the Shrieker Drones fly over Gaza every night, buzzing so loud that nobody can sleep and the tortured residents are going mad from the horror of it. But this story is about Israel and anti-Semitism, not Gaza.
- No. Your editor said it’s off-topic, and, given Israel’s horrific treatment of African immigrants, “a total bummer.”
- Sure. But these opinionated activists give such convoluted answers. The French magazine is clearly anti-Semitic, but that doesn’t mean the Shrieker Drones are magically ok, and the world needs to know that the people of Gaza are trapped in an open-air prison where 97 percent of the water is poison, etc, etc, blah blah blah. The activists’ quote is too long and doesn’t fit with your word count. You end up keeping only the first clause.
- YES. And your article won’t be enough. You need to sit down and do a proper profile of these fascinating settlers. They’re like Brooklyn hipsters, only with muscles, since they’ve built their own houses on fresh, clean, bulldozed land. One of your chief profile subjects explains that in high school, he became a fervent Zionist, partly in response to years of being bullied by goyish jocks. Now, he explains, he gets to be the one who does the bullying. Is this anti-Semitism? Is the Israeli settler an anti-Semite? God, you don’t know anymore. You just don’t know.
If you appreciate our work, please consider making a donation, purchasing a subscription, or supporting our podcast on Patreon. Current Affairs is not for profit and carries no outside advertising. We are an independent media institution funded entirely by subscribers and small donors, and we depend on you in order to continue to produce high-quality work.