Americans in Jerusalem 'Feel the Hate' for Obama
A new video posted on the Internet featuring inebriated American Jewish youth in a Jerusalem bar spouting hate-filled sentiments has garnered massive exposure and caused a firestorm in the media and the Jewish world.
In the video, filmed on June 3 and titled "Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem on the Eve of Obama's Cairo Address," the visitors to Israel are asked their opinions on President Barack Obama and his relationship to the Jewish state (text continues after clips below).
Click on PLAY icon to watch video (warning: foul language, racism)
Watch the response to 'feel the hate'
"You're all about talking to the Arabs," says one. "You're going to Cairo making a speech to the Muslim world trying to get them to love you, what about the Jews, man? What are we, chopped liver? You don't care about us. Are we nothing to you? Do we matter? Do you care if we get driven into the sea? Do you care if we get nuked? Are we even... ugh... do you care about us?!"
"My grandmother was in Auschwitz, Obama," he adds. "We're not going to take any Auschwitz bullshit! Listen, Obama, my grandma's number was 1268493, I remember her number on her arm, dude. And listen, never again will we deal with this, never again!"
The four-minute video has been seen by more than 214,000 viewers on YouTube since it was put up last Thursday.
In preparation for Obama's speech in Cairo on Thursday, director Max Blumenthal visited Jerusalem's downtown pub area with video camera in hand to "ascertain the feelings of the young population" about the president and his relationship with Israel.
The video begins with Blumenthal at a bar, interviewing a group of drunk Jewish American youth.
"He's a f**khead... I don't know politics, but he's a s**thead! Anyone who wants to take away my gun rights is an a***ole. He's an a***ole and deserves to get shot," declares a bandana-wearing youngster.
The camera shifts to his friend, who denounces Obama, frat-boy style: "Obama shouldn't pressure Israel for shit. Netanyahu told him to f**k himself and that's how we do it here in Israel baby, (applause) yah!"
Another member of the group stands up and declares, "I worked for the Obama campaign, but honestly, you f**kin' with Israel, you mother, STOP IT!" He stands and points his finger at the camera lens.
"White power, f**k the ni***rs!" declares the bandana-clad drunken youth as a final word from the group, grabbing the microphone to make his point.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Blumenthal, an American documentary filmmaker, defended his video.
Asked about its editing, he said that in the two hours of video he collected, "no people were edited out who expressed pro-Obama sentiments."
Why did he use the interviewees featured?
"These were the most direct responses. I had to make the video watchable," Blumenthal said.
He denied that using inebriated teenagers to represent "a slice of reality, but reality nonetheless," was irresponsible journalism. "Reporting is no less credible when it happens at a bar," he said.
He has become the target of a storm of media criticism since the video's release.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing for the The Atlantic magazine, was unimpressed with Blumenthal's journalistic skills.
"For what it's worth, on a very visceral level, what I see is a bunch of drunk racist white kids, doing what I'd expect a bunch of drunk racist white kids to do. I don't really have 'higher expectations' because of the particulars of the Jewish experience, any more than I have 'higher expectations' for Irish-Americans due to the oppressive immigrant experience of their ancestors," Coates wrote.
"Man, listen, hand me a fifth of Henny, a video camera, and an hour, and I'll show you Negroes claiming that God's messenger lives in a space-ship orbiting the earth," he added.
Capital J, a Jewish Telegraphic Agency blog, asked, "Would Weiss post video extracting the worst of thug culture and claim it as representative of the African American experience? How grotesque."
After the first table of participants interviewed, Blumenthal introduces viewers to "Political Science Girl," identified by the assistant director, Joseph Dana, as a Jewish girl from Florida.
Sitting at an outside bar with a group of friends, she is asked by Blumenthal to give her opinion on Obama.
"What is he doing for this country so far? Nothing," she responds. "I'm a political science major so like... I know my s**t."
Blumenthal, who said the girl was not given anything to drink during or before the interview, then quizzes her on figures in Israeli politics.
"Do you know who Binyamin Netanyahu is?" he asks.
"No. Is he the Israel prime minister or something? I don't know who he is. Who's Benjamin Yahoo?" she asks in a drunken state.
Only one interviewee featured asks about the purpose of the video, saying: "I think Obama is an idiot and I just think... wait, is this going to be on national TV or something?"
In his Mondoweiss blog, Blumenthal identifies the interviewees as "college-educated sons and daughters of middle and upper class American Jews from cosmopolitan metropolises and genteel suburbs."
"The sense of entitlement that the American Jewish community has when it comes to Israeli policy is on full raw display in the words of these young adults," he wrote.
According to Blumenthal, some of those interviewed were on "programs like Birthright Israel - a few of those in my video were on birthright tours."
However, Ada Spitzer, vice president for marketing, community relations and development for birthright, said the claims were unfounded.
"We don't really know if these are birthright people. In any case, we will check," she said. "There have been kids before who said they were on birthright, and they were not."
"The comments of the interviewees are reprehensible and are not reflective of the attitude of the vast majority of Israelis," said Alan Schneider, B'nai B'rith World Center director.
"You can get this kind of comment anywhere if you go looking for it. I don't think it contributes anything at all to the debate," he added.
Alan Hoffmann, director-general of the Jewish Agency's Education Department, was likewise disconcerted by the video.
"On the basis of a group of inebriated teenagers, to draw any conclusions about the quality of Jewish and Zionist education is really unacceptable," he told the Post.
"Whoever prepared this went out of their way to find people who have clearly been drinking," Hoffmann said. "It makes me wonder about the motivations of those who edited this video."
The spokesman for Democrats Abroad in Israel, Sheldon Schorer, called the video "useless."
"This video is of no value whatsoever. If you removed the expletives you'd be left with very little material," Schorer said.
The video, which he noted was made before Obama's speech, "should be ignored as a silly piece and as more of a comment on the depth to which the Internet can sink."
"The journalist really should have gone out to find people who had an opinion and supported their opinion. You can't have an intelligent discussion with someone who is inebriated," he said.
The Anti-Defamation League declined to comment on the video.