Monday, November 16, 2009
The Jewish Community and the Search for the Golden Token
Artists 4 Israel launched their photo club yesterday with multiple groups. This makes sense as we capped each group to 10 participants so as to allow for maximum dialogue and communication between members.
At the group that I attended, three of the 10 participants were black. Immediately, my classically trained, un-evolved mind thought "Photo Opp!" In one picture, we would prove to the world (or, at least, to others in the Israeli advocacy community) our diversity and the far reach of our programming. But, then, I realized, we were Artists 4 Israel and since our very first event with over 500 people of all races, religions, ethnicities, sexual preferences and different flavor ice-cream choices, that diversity has been a hallmark of our programming.
We are NOT a Jewish organization. We are an ISRAELI ADVOCACY organization. And, as such, we represent a beautiful country with an incredible, diverse population and a long, proud history of defending people of all races, religions, creeds, hair color, clothing tastes and more. To jump at the chance to photograph a "token" "other" has been a fault of the Israeli advocacy community that has too long been led by scared, meek Jewish leaders. It is insulting to the organization, to Israel and, most importantly, to the individuals who become nothing more than props.
Our fans and supporters, be they black, white, Asian, tall, short, good at sports or talented cellists, are all different and unique. We celebrate their diversity, oftentimes, without even knowing its full range. Our Director of Programming is a blonde haired, blue eyed Protestant from the Suburbs but does that define her? Absolutely not. Would you know that our Information Architect is part Irish, part Asian but makes the best noodle kugel this side of your grandma's kitchen?
I implore the Israeli Advocacy community to shake off the bonds of the Jewish community's leadership and find inspiration in the diverse supporters they have rather than subjugate these individuals to token photo opportunities.