That Moment when I became a Hasbara Troll: A phone conversation with Jewish Voice for Peace
If you are like me and you comment a lot – I mean a lot – to refute false claims and narratives that are piled upon Israel – you may have felt the virtual masking tape gag your mouth as I did by Jewish Voice for Peace.
In an effort to increase its membership and its own voice, #JewishVoiceforPeace recently cleansed its Facebook page of any facts that counter their lies.
It wasn’t enough to be called a Hasabra troll, with people spewing lies that I get paid to Stand Up for Israel online.
It wasn’t enough to be called stupid, racist, ignorant, bigotted and a hateful Zionist pig by the self-righteous over at Jewish Voice for Peace
But about a month ago, JVP completely shut down my account. They blocked me from commenting. From “liking” their page. From sending private messages to their admins. And from what it appears, all the others who tried to refute the lies and anyone else who tried to address false claims of JVP’s posts, their tireless garbage of calling Zionists oppressors and occupiers anyone whose comments did not fall in line with their twisted way of seeing Israel, was also blocked from commenting.
The last post I was ever able to make on JVP’s Facebook page was a post on May 11 where, in a sympathetic nod to the fate of teen terrorist Ahmed Manasra as he faces 20 years in prison. They showed the video of Mansra, 13 at the time, lying bleeding in the street of the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood while people cursed at him. Jewish Voice for Peace in the post called for the release of the poor Palestinian
What the post failed to do – as do many who tell only half-truths about the Arab/Israeli conflict – was to pull back the lens.
JVP failed to mention that back in October, this kid, along with his big cousin, went on a Jew hunt, taking knives from their mom’s kitchen to go stab some Jews to bring some dignity to their people.
What the post failed to do was to show the security video of Manasra and his cousin, who was shot dead, running through the streets stabbing Jews, including a 12-year-old boy on his bicycle who lost so much blood he had to be put into a medically induced coma to survive.
So, I posted the video.
Shortly afterward, I was blocked from commenting anywhere ever again on JVP’s Facebook page.
But that’s okay.
I am old. Old enough to remember a time of activism long before the invention of social media.
It’s called phone calls.
I remember as a kid making phone calls to “Let my People Go” to the Soviet Consulate. I remember marching in Soviet Jewry rallies.
Look what we accomplished.
I told you, I’m old.
This week, after watching their Facebook page put up post after post of lies and distortions, I called up their office in Oakland, Calif. at (510) 465–1777
I expressed my dismay and disappointment that JVP has decided to censor all dissenting viewpoints that counter theirs on their Facebook page. I asked the woman why that was and she said they take off comments that are hateful, violent and abusive.
I guess being hateful and violent and abusive against Zionists is perfectly fine.
All I did was post facts.
Facts that do not mesh with the Palestinian narrative. Because a narrative is not history.
Unsafe space facts.
And as I talked, I realized what I wanted to say, and it was not as much as what I wanted to say was what I wanted to ask.
What was the thing that JVP hates most of all?
So I asked: Do you know what the Hebrew word Tziyon means?
She replied: No, I don’t.
It means Zionism. Do you know what Zionism translates into, I am talking about the meaning of the word?
No I really don’t.
And I explained. It means excellence. It means treating others with excellence and living up to standards of excellence. It means that Jewish people have the right to live independently in their ancient homeland.
She then said: We have different interpretations of what it means to live in a homeland.
I then questioned her about JVP’s stance on a two-state solution. She said that JVP does not believe in a two-state solution, that all people should share the land with freedom and dignity and that the apartheid occupation had to end.
I said there is already a two state solution. It is called Jordan.
She said she found that remark very insulting.
I said, you may be insulted but it is a fact.
I questioned her more.
She did not know anything about the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
Or the San Remo Conference of 1920.
She did not know that half of the land of the British Mandate of Palestine that was meant to be set aside for the Jewish state was used to create the country of Jordan the same year that the State of Israel was created.
She told me that she and I held different interpretations of history.
I’m thinking, this is not an interpretation. These are historical dates. Facts.
It was when I corrected her claims that Israel is an apartheid state and I mentioned that 1.5 Million Muslim Arabs live in Israel with full rights, she said she and I had a different interpretation of rights, and she would need to end this conversation.
And there you have it.
Because JVP does not want to bother with history.
Or the truth.
But that is where we come in and that is where we, Jews, have gone oh so wrong. If the folks at JVP truly are Jewish, they are the Jews are are the product of a weak Jewish education that dismisses learning history at the price of convenience and reduced hours of instruction.
So, call JVP. If you’ve been blocked. Find a post you strongly disagree with them. And now that they’ve blocked you, just call and tell them what you were going to write.
Just do it with civility. And you had better come knowing your stuff.
Because they certainly don’t.
Mr. Middleton’s Writing Assignment
Ever wonder what your kid does in school all day? Last week, at a take your parent to school day, I had a chance to follow my sixth grader from class to class, something I had been threatening to do to my older son to make sure he writes down all his homework assignments and hand them in on time.
I spend the morning at West Hills Middle School, a 4-8 Grade upper elementary and middle school. With my son I used a nail, a magnet and a smooth piece of glass to identify minerals in science class, and made bracelets according to a very old tradition in a fictitious island nation to learn about the concepts of market economy in social studies.
My favorite, of course, was my son’s writing class. Like the other classes, the parents in the class could not just sit back and sip their morning coffee while they watched their kids work. No, we had to do work too. A student passed around clip boards, pencils and paper to the parents. Then, Mr. Middleton said we were about to see a photo and we were to write for five solid minutes, no thinking, no erasing, just write whatever came to one’s mind based on what the picture would trigger.
Okay, Mr. Middleton, I’ve had three cups of coffee. I’m a writer. I’ve got this! Let’s go.
And then he posted this.
And I felt my heart flip-flop.
A tutor house… the white stucco with the brown trim.. how I miss it…..
How I always thought it would be the home I would grow old in….
The home where my kids were babies. A home where the roof leaked if it rained just a bit too hard, just like when the last fragments of Hurricane Katrina blew through Western New York, or a roof that was porous enough to let a few bats through one winter when my current sixth grader was just an infant.
The leaded glass and the tiny windows in the walk-up attic….
How I still miss it, the attic with the full bathroom and a claw-foot bathtub… the third room that my baby moved into when he could no longer stand sharing a room with his older brother.
The water below reminds me of the Erie Canal
From Albany to Buffalo it went, and for miles, you can bike or walk along it.
There are not places like this I have yet to find in Michigan, at least not near my home. You don’t get to walk near water in the Detroit suburbs. Oh yeah, there are lots of lakes, all on private property You just get fleeting glimpses of them as you speed by on the drive from here to there …
And that is how far I got. Wow, look at me, almost two years after my move, there are still parts of me pining away for my old haunts.
But you really can’t go home.
Last week, my husband took our sons back to Rochester for a visit for a special occasion of some friends back there. My husband said it was great to be back to catch up with old familiar faces and places.
But some places, our home, looked very different.
The big old silver maple that graced the front of our house had to be cut down because age and time rotted it from the inside out.
My husband sent this photo to me in a text and I burst into tears:
If I had to write about this picture, all I would say is: Nothing lasts forever. Thank you, tree, for my kids’ thinking spots and photos on the first day of school. Thank you for your shade, your carpet of leaves in the fall and your shower of helicopter seeds in early summer.
Nothing stays the same.
Thank you, Mr. Middleton, for this great trip down memory lane and for getting our kids’ creativity flowing!
Here is a writing challenge: Find a photo in an old box, on the web, and just go, for five minutes. What did you come up with, let me know and share in the comments.
Have Blog will Travel – follow the adventures of Carole Rosenblat, founder of DropMeAnywhere.com
This gallery contains 5 photos.
“Take a leap, and the net will appear.” “When you first fall in love, you feel like a better version of yourself. That is what travel does to me. Travel is my lover. I do not know how long the money will hold out, or if I will make any money by documenting these adventures, but for now, I am very happy.” – Carole Rosenblat
Join me on the Road 2 College
For some us, it feels like we ourselves just graduated college.
How is it, that now we have children who are old enough to begin the college application process.
If you are a veteran college parent, or just getting started with having conversations with your teen about getting started down the path to college, I invite you read my series on the new online newsletter called road2college.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit
I haven’t answered the WordPress photo challenge in a while, but this one seemed like a way to boost creativity and to remind me of what I should and should not be doing to keep myself healthy.
I really try to be in the habit of using this at least every other day for strength, toning and pure mental stability:
And, being the 40something woman that I am, another healthy habit I have tried to incorporate into my daily routine is taking at least one of these:
But, as a mother of three who tries to keep awake to write and read and, function, for better or for worse, this is the only daily habit, that I wish I would quit, that sticks:
It’s a good thing I never smoked.
Dearmomanddadhiloveyoubye: Letters from Camp
It’s getting a bit late and this is a blog post I meant to write before i went away on my vacation but my printer wouldn’t scan and I had to paint stripes in my other kids’ room before he gets back from camp is summer going fast for you because it is going fast for me…
Now, if I were to write all my blog posts in this style – one devoid of sentence structure, or any clarity of thought – I wouldn’t be much of a writer. And you would absolutely be in the right for clicking away from this blog in disgust, murmuring aloud, “Where does that woman get off thinking she can write!?”
However garbled the messages may be, letters from camp are regarded as true literary works from their loving parents.
And I know my son is a writer. He has been writing funny stories for school and just for kicks as long as I can remember. Like his fifth-grade essay assignment about his first roller-coaster ride. His teacher told us that in this essay he had a great sense of voice and composition.
But, for some reason at camp, all rules learned about writing – sentence composition, transition of thoughts from one paragraph to the next, and even legible handwriting are cast aside for the sake of getting back in the game of swimming, water skiing or just plain hanging out with your bunk mates.
I’ve been inspired to share one — just one hand-written letter of several we received from our three children — by several blogs, including Letters From New Jersey, who shares the letters she writes to her children at camp, and renée a. schuls-jacobson, who is holding a hand-written letter to camp contest. Her son at camp is the judge on the best letter. Go check these blogs out, you wont’ be sorry!
With all this blogging material on camp and letters out there, I tried to avoid the subject. Until I got the letter below. It left me in such a fit of laughter on my front lawn I just had to share it. Here it is!
What? You didn’t get all that? Can you not read?
It’s okay. I have become quite the sleuth decoding and deciphering my 15-year-old’s harried handwriting. Seriously, is there a place where they pay you for reading horrid handwriting? if so, I have found my new calling.
Just be glad that this was not written on a crag of a stone in the dark, as he claimed was the writing surface of his last letter.
And it reads, unedited for punctuation, as such:
Dear Mom and Dad
2nd month is better than I expected it to be; I am spending most of my time in (bunk) 11. I made friends with lots of Israelis and that Tresame shampoo is awesome, Girls are literally feeling my hair and saying how soft it is. I’m practicing frisbee got to go to the Aga’am (lake) bye.
He’s actually washing his hair now?? To the point that girls, not just one girl but girl(s) in plural – want to touch his hair?
A whole year last year of nagging him to better wash his hair, of saying, not a drop of water touched your hair in that shower, how can it be CLEAN?!
And now, my son has silky soft, clean and touchable hair!
You can learn a lot from a letter from your kid at camp. I’ve learned to buy Tresame by the gallon.
You have learned that you may want to buy stock in the company which makes Tresame.
Some Unsolicited Advice on Eye Wear Down by the Riverside
One thing I’m learning fast about Michigan is that it is full of lakes. And I’m not talking about the big ones, like Lake Michigan or Lake Huron.
In West Bloomfield alone – that’s my new hometown – 12 percent of the entire township of 31 square miles is water. From my own experiences, while driving around and getting my bearings accompanied by my new best friend – my GARMIN GPS system – most roads ride alongside a body of blue.
Now, most of these lakes in my new home town are private – meaning, any long-lasting view of a lake is obscured by these incredibly huge lakefront mansions. So when the common folk like me want to see a lake, we go to a public park, one of many in Michigan’s vast park system.
(Don’t worry, people, I’m getting to the eyeglasses part).
This weekend, only our second in town, we ventured to Proud Lake, a state park with hiking, canoeing, and swimming.
We came to this lovely swimming hole along the Huron River. Others who kayaked and canoed stopped here to take a break and swim. Teens and tweens frolicked in the gentle current.
We were having a great time until….
A woman in her late forties in a fuchsia printed bathing suit drinking out of a metal Coors canister on a dock, in spite of the “alcoholic beverages prohibited” sign, summoned me.
“Excuse me… can you get…”
And here I am thinking she was pointing to the teen in the leopard bathing suit behind me, thinking it was her daughter.
“Oh sure,” I willingly replied, tapping the girl on the shoulder.
But it wasn’t the teen she wanted. She wanted my husband.
This was getting interesting. i told you it was getting interesting.
“Hey, I may come off as very bold
or very drunk
but I have to tell you, those sunglasses have to go. And I mean this in the kindest way. But there are all sorts of new eyewear technology, I mean, there are transition lenses, and magnetic sunglasses that snap on to your lenses…. but those sunglasses – what are they COCOONS?? They are really ridiculous and geeky, sorry just sayin’ as I work in sales for an eyeglasses store in Ann Arbor.”
Now, I’m standing there; chest deep in the Huron River, just taking this all in. A woman, who we never met before, who knows us from – NOWHERE – is sipping a beer insulting my husband’s choice in sunglasses.
The inner Staten Island girl in me would immediately retort:
“Yo BITCH! Who the FUCK do you think you are disrespecting my MAN and his dorky sunglasses? Step off that dock I’ll drag your ass under!”
But that was never me. But many an Island girl would have spoken like that, really.
I did say to her “Gee, WOW! you do have a lot of nerve, and yes, maybe his glasses are dorky but he is a GOOD man!”
I did, and I can’t believe I did, stand there in the water and make chit-chat with her for about 10 more minutes before I swam away, to learn that she was just this dumb, racist white trash woman who in no way reflected most of the good people I am so far meeting in Michigan.
In the end, I did deep down inside agree that those sunglasses are a bit dorky. But what’s it to her? The man behind those sunglasses is the man I love.
In the end, I later apologized to my husband for not rightly defending his honor and his right to wear dorky sunglasses.
In the end, eyeglass saleswoman on the shore had her canister of Coors taken away from her by an interceding park ranger.
In the end, I came away with a funny blog post to share with you.
Got a Garden? Let me live horticulturally through you this spring!
This is going to be a weird spring.
For 13 winters something has been growing in my basement.
Now don’t be frightened, especially if you are a potential buyer of my house.
The things that grew were my seedlings. All through the winter. Under grow lights set under timers.
Trays and trays of seedlings growing in plantable peat pots.
Annuals. Perennials. And Herbs.
All legal herbs, that is.
From the tiny seedlings grew the fully grown plants that populated my garden each year.
But this spring, the spring of transition, the only thing I’ve planted has been this:
The only gardening I’ve done is the kind where you weed while kneeling on a gardening pad and watch the bulbs you’ve planted from previous years emerge from the ground.
So, this gardener without a garden needs your help.
Won’t you write to me with your gardening plans – especially if you live in my current town of Rochester, or better yet, if you live in Detroit, tell me what the gardening scene is like in the motor city. Write to me where you find my contact information and I will feature you as a guest blogger right here.
So, get your green thumbs out of the dirt and onto that keyboard and write me!
New State, New Life: Transplantednorth needs a new name
Thank, you, WordPress, for your latest daily prompt: All About Me.
It was the impetus that got me thinking: Once I move to Detroit, the name of my blog will be outdated.
When I started this blog about three years ago, I named it Transplantednorth because that’s how I felt. Even after nine years of moving from the New York Metro Area to Rochester, I still felt somewhat on the outside, still very much a transplant.
Now, (as we native New Yorkers say) whadaya know? Just as I’m feeling grounded and rooted, it’s time to move, to transplant, yet again! (Yay.)
So, this is where you come in. And you get to vote.
When I move, what shall I name my blog:
I’m waiting with bated breath for your vote OR other suggestions!
Does WordPress take an anti-Israel slant? I think so. Here’s why.
I’ve been blogging for about two years now on WordPress.
I’ve even been Freshly Pressed!
The one post that I got this honor was, ironically, a post about being Jewish!
This post was a tongue-in-cheek take take on how Jews perceive Halloween. For a Jew to be funny on WordPress, that’s okay. Poke fun at themselves or at their religion, or express ambiguity at one’s Jewish identity, that’s cool too!
But to write about Israel from a pro-Israel standpoint? Apparently, that falls on deaf ears to the WordPress gods.
I wondered to myself in all the favorable posts I’ve written about Israel, in my writings about my travels there, why blogger love didn’t come my way.
As a Jewish educator and a Jewish mother, as a trained writer and reporter making multiple trips to Israel, I wrote thoughtfully.
In one post, after experiencing hostility towards women by the ultra-Orthodox, I wrote critically.
I added great photos of all I saw. I showed pictures of how Israeli soldiers keep ALL religious sites safe and accessible to ALL religions.
I’ve written about how Israel helps earthquake victims and how Israel develops state of the art agricultural and medical advances that can benefit all of humanity.
Still my stat counter didn’t budge. Maybe, my writing isn’t all that. But still, I wondered.
So, out of curiosity, I entered “Israel” into WordPress’ search engine. This is what came up:
A blog post criticizing Israel for blocking backers of Palestinian protesters for entering Israel:
Brave Israeli Soldier Speaks Out On BBC Against the Crimes of His Government…Fiannaiochta
Oh, and what blog post popping up into my reader spewing falsities about Israel would be complete without calling Israel an apartheid state, Israel as apartheid state
PLENTY of those posts to go around. One, filled with so many lies I had not the energy or the strength to refute every lie this blogger claimed to be true, was Freshly pressed. WordPress Freshly Pressed not one but two diatribes all but legitimizing and justifying Hamas and their industry of death.
Then, there are the tried and true tales of Israeli occupation of Gaza, never mind the fact that Israel withdrew from Gaza completely in 2005.(What, what about the blockade you say? If Gazans would only import food and clothing and construction supplies to develop an oasis of hope for a Palestinian state instead of using its resources and spending it on BOMBS imported from Iran smuggled in from Egypt, there would be no need for a blockade).
And genocide in Gaza, when the deaths of any Gazans are actually welcomed and glorified, that’s why the innocents are used as human shields.
All these blog posts delegitimizing Israel floated right to the top of my searches for posts on Israel. You know what else floats?
When I looked for Israel blogs that defended Israel’s right to defend herself from months and years of missile attacks from Gaza, or any post that gives the Jewish state any legitimacy, they were way down on WordPress’ search engine results.
Worse than the violence, worse than the missiles, worse than even the mothers in Gaza who cry for their martyred sons wishing they had more sons to give to Allah, is all the misinformation about Israel in the media, WordPress being just another guilty party.