July 12, 2007: J’Accuse!

Throughout history, we Jews have been accused of some pretty nasty stuff. People have said that the bubonic plague was caused because we poisoned all the wells in Europe. We kill Christian (and now Muslim) children to bake our matzos for Pesach. We are an incredibly poor people and live as parasites in whatever country we find ourselves. At the same time, we do control all the banks and other financial institutions. (I wish the anti-Semites would decide once and for all if we are grossly rich or dirt poor.)

We control Hollywood and decide what movies should and should not be made. We also own all the media, which helps explain why news reports around the world always speak with glowing admiration of Israeli activities.

It was an anti-Semitic accusation against Dreyfus that pushed Herzl to try and bring his vision of a Jewish state into reality. The emptiness of the accusations never seems to stop those with an agenda. When Emile Zola wrote “J’accuse!,” that the charges against Dreyfus were trumped up, he was forced to flee the country (how dare he defend the Jews!)

Now that I have put this column online I also have started to get a few not so nice e-mails from those who claim that I have stolen Palestinian land and bulldozed lots of houses to build mine. (For the record, I own a minivan, not a bulldozer.) As a Jew living in the West Bank, I am apparently responsible for global terrorism, the high price of oil, and all war everywhere. The comically named United Nations Council on Human Rights recently decided that the only human rights abuses in the world were those committed by me and my neighbors. (What an honor!)

Yet now comes an accusation to top everything else. Apparently, we Jews in the West Bank are guilty of… Owning jacuzzis!

How could such a strange tale come about? Apparently, a “reporter” for the newspaper The Forward decided that Jews only leave America to come live in Judea and Samaria because we desire cheap material goods. We gave up good careers and communities in order to build mansions in places like Neve Daniel. The reporter came to Neve Daniel, walked around and spoke with some people, and then wrote her story. It contained such insightful observations as “The family mansion stands four floors high and boasts five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a Jacuzzi, a fireplace and a manicured lawn.” There was only one, small problem with this fascinating tale… she made it up!

Not to be dismayed by reality, the reporter actually came up with some great quotations (of course no one ever said them.) My favorite was “I want to live in Israel, but I’m very materialistic and if I don’t have a nice house, we’re not moving.”

Makes sense. The real estate listing for our current house was “charming 4 bedroom house in gated community. Residents must be proficient in M-16 use and not object to 3:00 A.M. guard duty shifts. Usually quiet neighborhood except during five times/daily and nightly Arab call to pray and kill Jews.” (O.K., like the reporter I also made that up!)

The reporter’s real mistake was that she did not attribute fictitious names to the fictitious quotations. When the real people saw what words she had placed in their mouths, they were rightfully upset and challenged the paper.

So The Forward checked the facts, visited the Yishuv, and even searched for the famous Jacuzzi. Upon finding no giant bathtubs with pleasant massaging water jets nestled amongst the four level mansions of the Judean hills, they did the right thing and retracted the article. They even suspended the reporter.

So if you want to accuse me and my neighbors of certain things, there are many issues you can use. You can accuse us of leaving family and friends to stand with the Jewish people in the Jewish nation. You can accuse us of leaving good paying jobs to work for a fraction of the price on an Israeli salary. You can accuse us of leaving a culture where shopkeepers are polite, and you don’t have to “know someone” to get a good deal on shoes.

And yes, you can accuse us of dreaming of days when true peace will spread its mantle over the entire holy land and we don’t have to fear for our children anywhere.

But Jacuzzis?

Come on, you can do better than that.

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