Paradise Lost: David Stein Responds to HuffPost Writer’s Attack
Last week, to my surprise, I found myself the subject of a smug, condescendingly snarky op-ed in the online version of the L.A. Jewish Journal (the largest Jewish weekly outside of New York), written by a gentleman named Mitch Paradise. You’re probably asking, “who the hell is Mitch Paradise?” At least, that’s what I asked. Mitch Paradise is a leftist screenwriter, Huffington Post blogger, and proud member of the L.A. teachers union.
Paradise accused me of something that, as a professional historian, I simply cannot abide: he claimed that, in a previous article, I got my historical dates mixed up. He might as well have slapped me with a duelin’ glove. There are certain things you don’t say to a historian, unless you’re very, very certain you’re right.
In my article, I had shown that the date President Obama chose for his two-weeks-premature White House Hanukkah ceremony was also the anniversary of the start of the First Intifada, which brought years of violence and death to Israeli citizens. I was simply making the point that our president bends over backwards to never do anything that Muslims might find offensive (whether in terms of words, actions, or symbolism), and yet he apparently had no qualms about “rescheduling” Hanukkah to a rather troubling new date.
Well, according to Mr. Paradise, my article merely showed “how stupid some of us Jews can be when it comes to political candidates pandering to us on the subject of Israel.” To prove the stupidity of “us Jews,” he claimed that I got the date of the start of the First Intifada wrong – that it was December 9, not December 8.
Fightin’ words if I ever heard ‘em!
I know the chronology of the First Intifada from having lived in Israel at the time, but I never ask my readers to take my word for anything, so, in my piece, I posted a link to a meticulously researched Jerusalem Post article about the beginning of the Intifada. The riots that started the Intifada began on December 8th. It’s a fact.
And what source did Mr. Paradise use to counter one as esteemed as The Jerusalem Post? Wikipedia! (technically, he claimed to present three sources, but they were all anonymous cut-and-paste versions of the same Wikipedia blurb) Worse still, Paradise proudly let his readers know that Wikipedia was his source!
The footnote at the end of the Wikipedia paragraph that Paradise cited to make his claim that the Intifada started on the 9th and not the 8th references the book “Brotherhood of Warriors,” by Aaron Cohen, pages 11 and 12. The trouble is, if you actually read those pages, as you can easily do online, the reference to December 9th is nowhere to be found.
You see, Mitch, that’s why real historians use primary sources, not Wikipedia!
The Jewish Journal immediately ran my clarification as an op-ed.
I think there’s a bigger story here, beyond the cautionary tale about relying on Wikipedia, beyond the fact that Paradise’s poor research skills and inattention to detail are all-too-typical of the HuffPost crowd, beyond even the sad truth that the Jewish Journal, home to the likes of Dennis Prager and Judea Pearl, is far too respectable a periodical to publish a Wiki-sourced op-ed by a writer whose magnum opus was the 1990 slasher flick “Death Spa” (about a gym possessed by a zombie), and who’s ranked in the “least effective” category of English teachers according to the L.A. Times’ teacher ratings.
The bigger story, in my opinion, is how desperate the Jewish left is getting. How, beneath the smugness and snarkiness, there’s a real sense of panic that Obama might not be able to automatically count on the Jewish vote next year – that the president’s arrogant, bullying attitude toward Israel, coupled with actions and policies that have led to an Islamist resurgence in the region, might just lead to Jewish Democrats reexamining their reflexive voting patterns.
And that’s what my original article was all about – Obama’s dismissive approach to the Jewish community by not vetting the date of the “new Hanukkah.” Frankly, I’m somewhat heartened by the fact that the best response a HuffPost hack could muster was to falsify a historical date. It shows that leftists are getting desperate in their attempts to convince the Jewish community that Obama is still worthy of support.
To put it another way, if the leftists’ best ammo is Wikipedia, they are in serious, serious trouble!