Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Dubious Honour: My Reaction to Being on the Masada 2000 S.H.I.T. List

Me Juggling

My name now appears on the Masada 2000 S.H.I.T. List. I have officially arrived.

Now, most of you are scratching your heads wondering, "What on Earth is the Masada 2000 S.H.I.T. List?" The list of over 8000 names (and counting) is compiled by the people behind the website, of Jews who are "Self-Hating and/or Israel Threatening" (can you see where they got the S.H.I.T. acronymn from now?).

Organized alphabetically, names include many well-known Jewish people who take a stance against colonial Zionism and support Palestinian rights. People like Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Ilan Pappe, and even people who are quite moderate and working towards a just world full of peace, like Rabbi Michael Lerner. Even Woody Allen and Roseanne Barr are on the list.

In fact, it's really a Who's Who of the Jews - and now, I am part of it! Just follow this link to get to the 'K' page, and scroll down to find my name. There, you will find several photos of me, an extremely vitriolic ad hominum attack, links to my websites, and a couple of my email addresses.

At first, I was surprised at how much space they gave me. They put more photos of me and more information about myself than almost anyone else (at least on the 'K' page), including Naomi Klein and Henry Kissinger! They certainly must view me as a real threat. Little, old me. Who'da thunk it? Obviously, my activism must be very effective if I am pissing people off.

What also struck me is that these people have nothing really to say against my point of view. They do not engage in critical arguments. Instead, they engage in ad hominum attacks. This is a form of bullying.

That being said, let me address a few of the things said on the site. First of all, yes, I am a stick juggler. They are actually called devil sticks, or flower sticks (if they have tassels). I have been juggling since my last year of university, for exercise and stress relief. I am a huge hit at picnics and children's birthday parties. I have even had offers to perform at carnival-types of events and to teach classes to children as part of physical education.

They refer to me as "plump and unattractive" and that one should feel pity for me. Rather than debating my point of view, they try to discredit me by attacking my looks? What is this - junior high? Does my mother also wear army boots? I am the first one to admit that I am not a piece of calendar art, but to attack someone based on something having nothing to do with the issue at hand is bullying, plain and simple. But I have to say, about the accusation of being 'plump' - I'm not plump! I'm just so awesome, I am supersized!

In fact, much of what is said in their blurb about me resembles comments made about me a while back on YouTube. These were people who were obviously not using their real names or photos and saying thinks about my weight, looks, and perceived sexual orientation. I can't help but think that these people are the ones who need pity, having nothing better to do than troll the Internet stirring up trouble.

The quote that the Masada people used from me does indeed contain a spelling error. However, their website is not exactly error-free. I found several. Now, I do editing work on a per-hour basis and would normally offer to help out with something like this. However, I don't work for projects that promote hatred.

One of the pictures shows me "sucking up" to "an Arab in a kuffiyeh." That was taken at an emergency rally concerning the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli military in 2010. What more beautiful, peace-inspiring image could there be but of a Jewish woman and an Arab man, side by side, sharing a musical moment? Except, in this case, the man holding my microphone (a mic stand was not available) is not an Arab. He's Persian. Just because someone is brown-skinned and wearing a kuffiyah does not automatically mean the person is an Arab. Generalization, much?

I guess I should not be surprised. Prejudicial views run rampant at Masada. To the people at Masada, Jewish values apparently include sexism. Most of the women mentioned on the list are made fun of for their looks in one way or the other. I did not notice the same treatment being given to the men. However, homophobia and transgender phobia are also prevalent. If someone is gay, lesbian, or transgender, that fact is held against them and in a mocking way. Finally, the site is incredibly racist and Islamophobic. I went to the main page of the site in an attempt to figure out who these people are. It's a good thing I had not recently eaten. The hatred against Muslims is just disgusting. If another website spoke about Jews the way they speak about Muslims, they would be the first to accuse it of anti-Semitism.

Yet ironically, people like the ones behind this site accuse Jews like me of being anti-Semitic and self-hating. They, in fact, are the ones who are anti-Semitic. I have never said anything against public and personally against another Jewish brother or sister. However, this list insults just about every Jewish intellectual, academic, and artist who has made any sort of impact, especially within the last century.

As far as the accusation of being 'self-hating' goes, I like myself just fine. Let's face it - you have to have just a little bit of an ego to get up in front of large groups of people and sing and speak. I am also very proud of being Jewish. I have never hidden my religious identity in any situation and always wear a Star of David or Chai pendant. Although I am no longer Orthodox, I still observe many of the holidays and dietary laws. On the contrary, it is people like the Masada folks who turn others off from Judaism.

This is is currently at over 8000 people and is growing all the time. If the people behind the site would get their heads out of their right-wing extremist asses, they would see that that number speaks for itself - that more and more Jews are speaking out against the actions of the Israeli government and military. We are not anti-Israel in terms of the people or the existence of Israel itself. We just believe that violence begets more violence. Attitudes like the one promoted on the Masada site do nothing to promote a world of peace and justice.

I personally view the people behind the Masada site not only as bullies, but as cowards. Who are they? I see no names, no faces. My name (my real name) and often my image (my real image) is associated with what I put online. I realize I am putting myself out there and expect criticism. Constructive criticism and intelligent debate are welcome. But if the best you have are personal attacks that have nothing to do with my politics, let alone my religion, it reflects worse on you than it does on me.

To be named in the company of so many people I admire is an honour. In fact, I have heard reports that to be included on the Masada 2000 S.H.I.T. list is indeed an achievement, and people have contacted the site to try to get on (where they found contact information, I have no idea). My first reaction was something like, "Yay!" followed by intense laughter. Look that the photo of "evil me" juxtaposed near the one of me juggling.

However, I am not sure when my name was added to the list. In any case, they have missed such up to date information as to my involvement with Independent Jewish Voices, having spoken on the organization's behalf at several recent rallies. I also tweet on behalf of Norman Finkelstein. There are photos of me wearing a kuffiyeh. These people really need to stay up to date. After all, I am apparently so important to them.


Ken "Doc Reefer" Kirk said...

The list of uncomplimentary words going through my head to describe these Masada people is spo long it's hard to pick one. All I know is that you are a realist a wonderful & dedicated activist & musician who's opinion I respect very much. You totally rock Paula!

Bruce Sinclair said...

Congrats Paula! Quite and honour!

S.M. Elliott said...

Crazy extremists. At least you know you're effective, since they took the time to add you to a list they never seem to update (in their Finkelstein entry, he hadn't even received tenure yet - that was revoked, what, five years ago?).

There are always some screwballs waiting to pounce the moment you stick your neck out for anything. I've been called a CIA agent and a Satanist. I had one guy tell me that if his people didn't get to me first, Jesus will kill me at Armageddon.