Monday, January 17, 2011

Bothered by a Superhero

Superheroes have never impressed me; I mostly don’t like them. I know that makes me almost un-American. But now I am struggling with a Jewish superhero, Capt. Israel.

Oh I don’t dislike this character for the same reason that the Israel/Palestine Mission Network dislikes him, or Veterans Today or MuzzleWatch, the site with an article critiquing Capt. Israel, and linked to by both IPMN and VT. The MuzzleWatch article, “StandWithUs comic book portrays activist Palestinians (and allies) as vermin, reminiscent of Nazi propaganda,” is an overblown piece about a new comic book that the Jewish Advocacy group StandWithUs has just published.

But first I have to explain that the writer, Gilad Atzmon, at VT, in his article, “Captain Israel- A Sickening Hasbara Magazine For Jewish Diaspora Youngsters,” is totally confused. He is linked to and partially writing about the article on MuzzleWatch but he has included another site called Team Super Jews which has nothing at all to do with the Capt. Israel comic, (except one of the team is named Capt. Israel), it is instead a group of Jewish organizations that meet community needs.

The new character Capt. Israel in the first edition of the comic book explains the history of Israel. It isn’t bad just a bit simplistic. But the part that IPMN, VT and MuzzleWatch are complaining about is the advertisement for the next issue which will be about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. On that page the BDS movement is portrayed as a giant horrifying snake.

An inset by the snake states “You think BDS, stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions? It’s more like Bigotry, Divisiveness and Slander! See Capt. Israel expose the Extremists behind …” and then written outside of the inset and over the snake are the words, “the venomous BDS.”

So first the complaints of MuzzleWatch: There is a wording problem. Evidently the writer, Cecilie Surasky, at MuzzleWatch, thought that venomous meant vermin rather than poisonous. She mistakenly believes that StandWithUs has called the members of the BDS vermin. Surasky writes, “

Perfect, shining Captain Israel needs a diseased, less than human “other” to give him his all-man mojo. Episode 2 will feature Captain Israel’s undoubtedly victorious epic battle against “the venomous” Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement. …

I wondered what it was about the evil serpent-the colors of the Palestinian flag- that looked so familiar to me? Where on earth did they get the inspiration to portray the Palestinian and international human rights groups that support the BDS movement as a big, fanged, serpent? As vermin? (And then I remembered I had seen it in different (Genesis inspired) anti-Semitic propaganda about ‘conniving’ Jews, and thought, why not just call them all “cockroaches” and get it over with? )

No, snakes are a symbol of evil not of vermin. But Vermin fit into the MuzzleWatch author's next conjecture, which was to see Capt. Israel as a symbol of an early Zionism which supposedly wished to portray Western Jewish males as “the image of the hypermasculine, colonialist-explorer and militaristic nation-builder, an image dependent on the homophobic repudiation of the “feminine” within men.”

Surasky, who is using a large quote from a book entitled, Beyond Flesh, (a book about gays and lesbians and their history in Israel), adds, from the book: “

By stigmatizing Israels [sic] Eastern populations as agents of death and degeneration, Zionism created internal biologized enemies, against whom the Zionist society had to defend itself. In the name of securing the life and reproduction of the new Ashkenazi Jewry, Israeli society discriminated against both its internal enemies, the Palestinians, and its own citizens, the Mizrahim (Oriental Jews).
This is a lot of nonsense and has nothing to do with either Zionism or what StandWithUs was attempting to teach as they try to help Jewish children understand Jewish history and in their next issue the BDS movement. A movement which does consist of many people who wish to destroy Israel as a Jewish State.

But here is my greater complaint against Capt. Israel. And I write this as a Christian who holds the Hebrew Bible to be the word of God. The character of Capt. Israel takes on transcendent qualities which only belong to God. He is dealing with, not a comic book story, but real history which includes biblical history-God’s word to be exact.

In the first issue when speaking about ancient Israel and the modern State of Israel, Capt. Israel states, “I was there when Jewish civilization and national identity was formed,” and, “I watched as Herzl’s book had great impact on the Jews of his time. …” To be truthful if Jewish leadership were angry when Jesus stated “before Abraham was born, I am,” then surely there must be some Jewish objections to Capt. Israel’s statements.

Additionally the front page of the book quotes Mark Twain and his famous question about why the Jews have survived through out the ages. The booklet states “find out inside.” But there is no real answer inside except for the actions of the Jewish people. Where is God in all of this?
At this moment in time, I would think that above all the Israelis should be directed to the keeping power of God. I am thinking of the text which states:

Listen to me , O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been borne by me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you. (Isaiah 46:3)

The Jewish people exist because God has in grace blessed them and kept them. There is a Jewish State of Israel because God has allowed it to be so; God keeps his promises. And a captain did appear in Israel greater than any real or comic book captain:

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No, rather I come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my Lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:13-15)


Anonymous said...

Just when I think I couldn't possible love, respect, and adore you write this entry.

How does it feel to be one of the most amazing women on the planet? I'm just sayin'!!!



Viola Larson said...

That is extremely embarrassing, thank you, but next time please say something about the subject.

Soli Deo gloria-

will spotts said...

I have to laugh ... something about pots and kettles. Given the ridiculous and offensive ways in which the various devotees of BDS have described and characterized the Jewish people, Zionism, various Israel officials, the State of Israel - for them to be upset by this is hypocritical in the extreme and utterly absurd.

Having said that - Surasky's use of the word vermin does have some linguistic justification. While it is not the common usage, it does come from the word worm and can conceivably be used to describe a snake. It is admittedly an uncommon usage, but a possible one.

When all is said and done, so much hate speech has come through the BDS movement (even though not all its devotees are equal - some offenders are clearly far worse than others) - that venomous seems an apt description.