Wednesday, February 20, 2013
An Open Letter to David Sheen and Mondoweiss: Skateboarding Trips Are Not a Crime
Philip Weiss' Mondoweiss (oh, wow, I just got that - clever), via David Sheen (probably no relation) has once again decided to report on Artists 4 Israel (see here). This time, they are taking shots at our Skate The World trip, an official Birthright Israel tour co-sponsored by Young Judea. The article is, basically, an extended version of a previous post by +972 Magazine (see here). Of course, we rudely responded to +972 (see here), probably giving them more credibility than they ever deserved but...hey...we were bored that day.
In the past, Mondoweiss has written about our BOMB SHELTER MUSEUM and about our ARTISTIC MISSION TO ISRAEL (for my take on the "washing" label - see bottom of this post). We wrote about his CHEST HAIR. It is interesting that this time they failed to mention us by name and that Philip hid behind his faceless co-defendant (see pic above for Sheen's greatest photoshop job so far) and aspiring graphic designer to take kitten-paw swipes at us is interesting. Maybe he thought David Sheen with his thesaurus of skateboard jargon and grandfather like knowledge of "hip" would be an equal match for our wit. Well, better luck next time. See below.
Davey and I do have one thing in common: we both enjoy a good mocking of the other side to show just how ridiculous they are. Except, this time, it is not very funny. The posts by +972 and Mr. Sheen are furthering a trend already far too prevalent amongst all the enemies of Israel: a separatist hatred for those with differing tastes, lifestyles, sexual orientations, races and cultures.
Making fun of people planking is worthy of a chuckle (well, would have been 2.5 years ago when it was topical). I will even go so far as to say that Steam Punk fans deserve a good ribbing (well, 1.5 years ago). But, then we get to Jugaloos. Jugaloos is a community that certainly dresses and acts outside the norm but it is a subculture based on total acceptance and community support. Of course, these are just fictional trips, fantastical creations of David's feeble attempts at proving himself "cool" and showing off his Microsoft Paint circa 1996 graphics skills. When it comes to the real trips, Mr. Sheen is viciously un-funny.
Skateboarding is an international subculture that accepts all people, regardless of race, creed or sexuality. It is a society of individuals who are active, explorative, environmentally concerned, dedicated, supportive of each other and global in scale. Why would David have a problem with such a kind, loving group of people? Riders should be very concerned by Mr. Sheen's intolerance of them.
The trend of David and +972's disgust loses all humor when we get to the four actual trips these posts condemn: food-related, technology-related, handicap accessible and LGBT focused. While both +972 and Mondoweiss seemingly support a "Palestinian" state, it is not surprising, in particular, that they have some problem with homosexuality. "Palestine" as well as many other declared enemies of Israel have horrific histories of torturing and murdering LGBT citizens.
Israel has one of, if not the most, positive records on protecting homosexual rights. It is that very same inclusiveness and tolerance which makes it a nation that all should support and that every young Jew should be proud to visit. These young Jews, like all other young people, have multiple hobbies and passions. By Birthright Israel providing them with trips specifically focused on their personal and unique interests, they have an opportunity to increase their enjoyment and to discover an incredibly new and life-changing experience while maintaining a safety net of something they already know and feel comfortable within. I applaud Birthright, Young Judea and Artists 4 Israel for being so aware, considerate and giving towards the passions and beliefs of others. It is only the myopic, provincial haters like Mr. Sheen who are so focused on their burning hatred for Israel and all the people it protects who would seek to limit this experience.
I only wish that, contrary to Mr. Sheen's nearly reporting-less reporting (he admits to not having seen the very itinerary he is railing against), Birthright did offer political trips. There is a thriving skateboard community in Judea and Samaria, two areas that Birthright will not allow tours to visit. Not only should Jewish youth go there but so should all people so they could see for themselves that while outsiders like Philip Weiss and David Sheen throw hatred at homosexuals, handicapped individuals and the communities of the Yesha, the settlements of Judea and Samaria are peaceful and home to a diverse citizenry.
Then, I would welcome the opportunity for David, Philip and anyone else to take one of their Earthright trips. They should start in Iran and then visit Syria, Jordan and Gaza to see where their intolerance and focus on fighting and hate lead. They should go to the Sudan, Mali, Egypt and throughout North Africa to see what the Arab zealots whose ideology they share and promote think of them.
I will buy the tickets.
Thanks, guys. This was fun. See below for some commentary on Philip's overuse of the word "washing"/
Discuss Israel's record on homosexual rights and it is "pinkwashing". Discuss Israel's record on environmental rights and it is "greenwashing". Go to Israel and paint bomb shelters and it is "artwashing". My goal is to write a post on some Israeli super scientific soap invention (c'mon, you know that there is something like that out there considering all else their technology gurus can do) so that they can call it "washingwashing". Hehe. What is the difference between an Israeli advocate and an Israeli maid? The maid doesn't do window washing! Ha! I got a million of these.