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October 5, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 5, 2012 PAGE 5A HERITAGE encourages readers to send in theiropinions for the Viewpoint column. They must be signed; how- ever, names will be withheld upon request. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit, if necessary. Opinions printed in Viewpoint do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the paper. Text and scroll of my Kol Nidre experience By Richard Ries deredonbeingsimplyrepulsive. In my quest to concentrate At Kol Nidre services Sept. ontheserviceandreflectonmy 25 in Orlando, I had the unique own shortcomings in the past pleasure of sitting next to a year, I concede I had trouble high school (or young college) taking my mind off the assault studentwhocouldnot, without of the small screen. We expect several stern suggestions, turn it at the gym or in Publix; we off hisiPhone. For agoodhour yearn for at least one space or so--through some of the left in our lives that is exempt. most soulful and introspec- Afteroneofthemoreimportant tive prayers heard but once chants, I again motioned for a year--I was subjected to hirh to put it away. He finally watching him checkmessages, did. He stuffed it inside his tallit send texts, lookat apps and surf bag so that his diversion would the Web. The glow of the Small be less distracting for me. screencontrastedsharplywith A few thoughts and ques- the prayers of the mahzor.-It tions sprang to mind. First. was not merely distracting, or could someone who had come " annoying, but admittedly bor- of age (and be affiliated enough to have a personal tallit bag) honestly not know that this was highly inappropriate behavior? Second, why did I, a complete stranger, need to do so much of the parenting, when his parents were sitting right next to him "and could very much see the screen as well? (The mother had made at least one similar gesture early in the service, so I know she knew.) Lastly, to what degree was this reprehensive behavior tak- ing place all over the country, and what does it mean on a larger sociological scale? In answer to the first ques- tion, I am going to assign responsible knowledge to the young man, and not write it off as "teens will be teens." This was not a 5- or 7-year-old bo , but rather a young man. It is tempting to listen to the argument of "well, at least he's in a synagogue; he's not out on the streets or in a gang somewhere."This is true. But by this logic, virtually everyone in the room could be on a device until the sanctuary resembled Dave & Busters. One could argue that this was offensive. but not a crime-. By that logic, when should the offense end? slamic leaders By Abraham H. Fox_,nan riots in the Arab world, anti-Muslim film was produced A story circulated that the byaJewmerelyconfirmedwhat NEWYORK (JTA)--In 1935. maker of the film. "Innocence theyalready"know'--thatJews a trial was held in Bern. Swit- of Muslims." was an Israeli- are behindthe siege against the zerland, in which two indi- American Jew by the name of Muslim world, that Jewsare the viduals were being prosecuted SamBacile.whoclaimedthathe secret power in the World. for distributing the notorious had produced the film and was Itisthereforeha 'dlyasurprise anti-Semitic document "The backed by 100 Jewish donors. It that asurge ofanti-Semiticsen- Protocols of the Learned Elders quickly emerged, however, that timent appeared since the story of Zion."Atthetrial,witnessafter the story was a lie. In fact. there broke with the violence against witnesscameforwardtestifying was absolutely no Jewish angle U.S.missionsinEgyptandLibya. to the fraudulent nature of "The here at all. The film's producer Cartoons in papers across the Protocols." was a Christian Copt Iiving on Arab world and in Iran depict Thenoneoftheaccusedtook the West Coast who received evil Jews as behind the film the stand and was asked what assistance from a right-wing, and anti-Muslim Sentiment. In he thought in light of these anti-Muslim Iranian cartoon, the Jew testimonies. He said that none The revelation of these facts is the devil and the director of ofithadimpactonhim.andthat was important in many places, the anti-Muslim film. ranian he knows "The Pr6tocols" are but in those places where anti- PresidentMahmoudAhmadine- true because every day around Semiticconspiracytheofieshave jad chimed in as usual, calling- him he sees how Jews conspire become a way of life. the truth the filman Israeli plot"to divide to control the world, had no impact, much as in [Muslimsl and spark sectarian That story comes to mind as the case of the distribution of conflict." Iran's supreme leader. wewatch the sad tales unfold of "The Protocols" back in 1935. Ayatollah All Khamenei. said the anti-lslamic film that led to Rather the "evidence" that the the American-made movie is When a pornographic image finally popped up on his screen? At the frying of bacon on an open Torah scroll? As for the second question, though as a former high school teacher I can certainly under- stand the challenges of raising a teen, I could not help but to view the scene as a familiar mini drama of addiction, denial and enabling behavior. The !Phone was controlling the teen; the teen in turn was controlling the family. Rather than risk offending the son and telling (not asking) him to simply put the device away, the family would rather offend nearby congregants, possibly the rabbi who could see the event from the pulpit, and, lest we forget, God. When I finally succeeded, by hand gesture and dismaying looks, to convince the parents to make their son put the holy Apple away once and for all, the boy's body language Was predictably all about pouting, protest, resentment and an- ger. How could I, a complete stranger, have the nerve to tell him to shut off his !Phone on Kol Nidre? The chutzpah. I have no statistics to back me up, but my hunch is that similar tied to"Islamophobic policies of arrogant powers and Zionists." What should not be missed here is not that this is an example of the usual suspects merely ex- ploiting asituation toserve their anti-Jewish purposes. It is rather far deeper and more sinister. It is a way of thinking that is dominant in certain circles, is truly believed and just awaits repeated confirmations to set off anti-Semitic explosions of one kind or another. Therefore, although impor- tant. it is simply not enough to react against and expose these manifestations of hatred. Rather there has t() be a sustained long- term process of standing up and speaking out against this kind of thinking, so the point can be reachedwhere these conspirato- rial viewpoints are isolated and truly marginal. sceneswere taking place all over the country. We all know the allure of emaii and texts; the sense of quick fix and the belief that we must rapidly reply. We are used to seeing cell phones everywhere. Most of us are, by now, familiar with the stray cell phone that goes off during a routine Saturday service or even at a wedding or a funeral. Those are accidents. We can accept a cell phone going off in cases of physicians who are on call or for someone whose loved one might be in critical condi- tion. But some things--even in the age of Anything Goes, Live and Let Live, I'm OK You're OK, Just Do It, Whatever Floats Your Boat and all of the other simplistic maxims that govern oursociety--are unacceptable. This was not the case Of the "text a rabbi" service we read about a few weeks ago, where assimilated young people in Miami were encouraged to text the rabbis on the bimah their questions about Judaism. That was an example of an innovative use of technology to further the work of outreach. What I witnessed, rather, was at least a momentary and tragic triumph of the values of pop culture over To a large extent, this has happened in recent years in the West because o he impact and lessons of the Holocaust, because of the changes in the Catholic Church's views on Jews and, significantly, because of leaders and nongovernmental organizations in democratic societies willing to take a stand for the truth. Sadly, jn the Islamic world, there is no systematic effort to combatanVl-Selnitic conspiracy thinking. To the contrary, as we see in Iran and in many government-sponsored news~ papers in a number of Arab countries, officials often aid, abet and even lead the way in their anti-Semitism. Ultimately, as in the West, true changewill come onlywhen influentials in the Islamicworld recognize how destructive these those of Judaism, and of the power of addicting behavior over reason and common sense. The contrast between the ancient moment of Koi Nidre and the ephemeral quality of the text message couldn't have been more stark---or disturb- ing. I saw in this Nietzchean transformation of values hints of the dystopic vision in "A Clockwork Orange." Contemporary American society is about immediate gratification and the worship of the Self. Judaism and other faiths are about delayed gratifi- cation and the worship of God. The introduction of the !Phone to the holiest night of the year was at least a brief statement that nothing was sacred, and that the sacred shall be mocked. Here was the Golden Calf; here was the Fall of Rome. My seat neighbor, who simply could not stop texting and surfing for the Kol Nidre service, was defiantly demonstrating that decorum was for the dogs, respectwas for wussies and that absolutely no one could tell him what to do. Except Steve Jobs. Richard Riesis studying writing and sociology at The University of Central Florida. views are to their own societies. We, unfortunately, are far away froin that day. But for now it is vital that Western countries and others like Russia, China and non- aligned nations find opportu- nities to call out their Muslim country counterparts. If it is legitimate for Muslims to express anger at anti-Muslim sentiment in the West, even if it comes only from an individual with no government connec- tion, it is surely right to call out Muslim officials who remain silent in the face of or even work o cultivate and exploit anti-Jewish sentiment in their own societies. Abraham H. Foxman is na- tional director of the Anti-Defa- mationLeagueandauthormost recently of!Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype." By David Suissa can broadcast sacrilegious You- for us, but not for you!" trums. That's insulting to Islam Jewish Journal TubevideoSthatcan igniteangry Instead of calling them out and to Muslims. mobs, thisfreedomofexpression on their .hypocrisy, President "We tolerate protest, but we It's not exactly true that Jews is being severely tested. Barack Obama and Secretary have zero tolerance forviolence. have nothing to do with the As someone who worshipsof State Hillary Clinton went Thatappliestoallpeoplesandall controversy surrounding the freedom of speech, I can only outoftheirway to denounce the religions. Remember: The free- anti-Islamvideothathassparked hope that the freedom to criti- "offensive" speech in the anti- dom to hurl an insult includes riots in the Muslimworld, along cize and speak freely comes out Islam video, while their people the freedom to ignore it. But if with a furious debate about the stronger than ever. I love the ever* contacted Google about youwanttodishitout, youmust limits of free speech, idea of a society that doesn't try the possibility of taking it down. be ready to take it." ~rhereisaJewbehindthis sto- to censor speech, even offensive This pathetic effort at ap- Personally, I've never under- ry. His name is Joseph Burstyn. speech that I hate. peasement reached its nadir stoodwhynewspapersthathave Burstyn was a NewYork film But what I hate more than when Army Chief of Staff Gen. no qualms about publishing distributor who, in the early anything is hypocri~: It's pretty Martin Dempsey asked a nutty cartoons mocking Judaism or 1950s, fought all the way to the clearthattheIslamistswhohave Christian pastor not to endorse Christianity suddenly turn into Supreme Court for the right been rioting against those who the film. as if that could calm wet noodles when it comes to to show an Italian film ("The criticizeandinsulttheirreligion the rioters rampaging through taking on Islam. Miracle") that a licensing board would never give up their own U.S. embassies and burning Whyis it fair game to take on had ~emed"sacrilegious."` freedom to criticize and insult American flags. Moses or Jesus or Buddha--but The film, directedby the Ital- other religions. Let's face it: Even if we not Muhammad? ianneorealistRobertoRossellini, As Thomas Friedman wrotewanted to, it's impossible in Why does President Obama wasaboutaman (playedbyFed- lastweekinTheNewYorkTimes, a digital world to regulate of- denouncetheblasphemyagainst ericoFellini)whoimpregnatesa "TheyoungEgyptians, Libyans, fensive speech: Some crackpot IslaminastupidYouTubevideo, disturbed peasant who believes Yemen!s, Pakistan!s, Afghans will always find a way to cook but not the blasphemy against herself to be the Virgin Mary. It and Sudanese who have been up provocations, and terrorists Mormonisminthemusical"The drew wide protests and outrage taking to the streets rnightwant looking for a pretext will always Book of Mormon"? when it premiered in Europe. to look in the mirror---or just find One. I know, we're all intimidated Following setbacks in lower turn on their own televisions. Givenailthat, it'stimewestop by violence. But how long will courts, BurstynprevailedinMay "They might want to lookapologizing for our freedoms we let our minds be terrorized 1952 when the Supreme Court "at the chauyinistic bile that is and appeasing hysterical mobs. by thin-skinned, hypocritical ruledthatrevokinghislicenseto pumpedoutbysomeoftheirown Here'swhatweshouldtellangry Muslimradicals?Ifeveryreligion showthefilmwasa"restraintof media--on satellite television Muslims who can't tolerate of- riotedatthesightofadumb, of- freedom of speech" and thereby stations and Web sites or sold fensive speech: fensivevideo, what kindofworld a violation of the First Amend- in sidewalk bookstores outside "Respect works both ways. If would we live in? mentItwasalandmarkdecision of mosques---insultingShiites, youwantthefreedomtocriticize Maybe what we need is with enormous implications for Jews, Christians, Suds andany- others, you must respect the not less-0ffensive speech but freedom of expression in the one else who is not a Sunni, or freedom of others to criticize smarter and funnier offensive creative arts. fundamentalist, Muslim."you. IYeating Islam differently speech--the kind of biting Now, some 60 years later, at a Those rioters mightaswellbe would mean treating you like satire that often speaks the time when anyone on the planet screaming: "Freedom of speech babies who throw temper tan- deepest truths. We need more Jon Stewarts to drown out the talentless hatemongers. In any event, it'll be a bet- ter day for humanity when all religions make their peace with freedom the freedom to be religious, the freedom to be NLKES?! MEANWHILE, irreverent and the freedom to ignore it all. Just ask Joseph Burstyn. David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp.!Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewish VISUAL AII) I ARE THEY 50 THAT INE HAVE TO {)RAN A PlCTI E