18 of the Sixth Month 5769
Before I get into why I'm not attending this year's JBloggers Convention, let me take the opportunity for some qualification. Steve Leavitt of Webads.co.il, the main organizer of the convention, is a good guy, means well, and is doing to a service to bloggers,...socially, and networking wise. He has always returned my e-mail questions about the Convention very quickly and clearly. Even though he could easily have gotten away with ignoring them or answering them with some kind of snarky comments (...but didn't).
I have absolutely no intention of encouraging a boycott of the convention, or even suggest that other bloggers should not attend. I would never want to harm another Jew's business opportunities, and do not believe that this e-mail will result in anything of the sort (has wehallilah). On the contrary, it may even generate additional interest in the convention, as this kind of material often does.
I am simply posting views on the convention which I believe are worthy of contemplation, as well as answering several bloggers' personal questions as to why I am not attending in one easy to find location, rather than sending out multiple, personalized e-mails.
(Note: I just re-read my own post as to why I did not attend this convention last year. You may want to check it out, and see how things have changed, and how they haven't.)
Remember last year's "branding" presentation? (eyes rolling) Well, our lovely representative from the Foreign Ministry will be back. (10) I am totally against any participation by a representative of the Israeli government, right-wing, left-wing, pseudo-right wing, as in the case of the current government, or career employee or consultant, if for no other reason, than the symbolic power of such presence or participation. I was completely dumbfounded by the representatives assumption last year, that we were prepared to be the Israeli government's front line, Hasbara soldiers. (Um...no, I don't think so!)
"Defending Israel" is great, if you mean defending Am Yisrael (halachic Am Yisrael), Torath Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael. But I sincerely doubt any of these concepts regularly enter the minds of Foreign Ministry representatives, while they are functioning in that role.
Talkin' 'bout the State of Israel?
I will criticize the Erev Rav-based Israeli government when I believe it needs to be criticized. No matter how independent bloggers can be, no matter how much we can stand by our principles, I refuse to give anything even remotely associated with this government the time of day.
Most bloggers I spoke to told me to get over it, and take the opportunity to enjoy meeting all of the other bloggers I've connected with on line. (not a bad idea, and one of the few reasons why I actually considered attending) After all, there are two alternative workshops held at the same time as the workshop featuring the Foreign Ministry representative, and who's to say I have to go to any workshop. I could just kibbitz the whole time. The only question is will Bibi be back? Or some other "celebrity" be there to take his place as "surprise guest."
As a Southern Californian (from the city, not the country), I am immune to being starstruck. What I am not immune to is being thoroughly annoyed by those people who aren't immune. (9) I experience a violent, allergic reaction when I encounter "fawning" and "slobbering" over celebrities. I have this strong, unyielding desire to gag myself with a spoon.
(8) The only other things which give me an even worse allergic reaction are pompousness, gaivah, and arrogance so thick that they can be sliced with a knife. I not even talking about the majority of bloggers. Trust me. There are two or three who have enough for all of us. This is, of course, a very minor reason, a reason which, in itself, would not prevent me from attending. However, it is a reason nonetheless, which warrants mentioning.
(7) Where's the diversity at the convention? The inclusion of a couple of token lefties on some panels does not equal diversity. How about including an active duty IDF soldier, a kibbutznk, a mom, someone from the North, someone from the South, someone from Tel-Aviv, someone from Los Angeles, a kibbutznik, or a combined left-wing/right-wing yeshiva student?? Nope. Just the same boring faces and personalities from last year. (I must admit, though, I was happy to see Rebecca Markowitz of The Big Felafel on one of the panels.)
And, speaking of diversity, um,...did someone say she suspects (6) there might be some good ol' fashion Haredi bashing at the convention? (Hmm...)
Meanwhile, (5) I think some mention of Jewish Blog Carnivals could have been squeezed in somewhere (Haveil Havalim, Kosher Cooking Carnival, JPix), as well as some mention as to how they fit into the greater scheme of the JBlogosphere. I still think it will be, but not officially, and not by any of the workshop facilitators nor panelists. Stay tuned....
As I do not know the location of the convention (Do we know the location, yet?), (4) I am unable to prepare for the contingency that the location and atmosphere set aside for tefilloth will not be a conducive environment for me to pray with kewannah (Now, how's that for pompous, gaivadik, and arrogant?). Sure, I can always pray before and after the convention. That's why this is another reason not actually preventing me from attending. It would be nice to be able to pray at a "Jewish" Bloggers convention, though. For too long, I have considered this icing on the cake, instead of the cake itself. How dare I desire to eat it! (LeHathillah, I believe in praying tefillath minhah at p'lag haminhah and tefillath aravith at sheqi'ath hahamah.)
(3) Benji Lovitt is performing. Sorry, Benji, but after I saw Eddie Murphy, (my SD home girl) Whoopie Goldberg, and Robin Williams all in one night, for only $13 (and that included two drinks), and on a Tuesday no less, with a drunk Bruce Willis getting up on stage to heckle Robin Williams (which backfired of course) there is no stand-up act which could possibly even hope to come close to making me laugh. (Although I have to admit that Margaret Cho is pretty damn funny. But I digress.... Benji, I'm sure you're a nice guy, and a talented comedian, so I hope you know I'm just messing with you here, OK?)
(2) I'm what you call a "semi-anonymous" blogger, and would like to keep it that way. I have my reasons, which I won't get into here. I use my real name (believe it or not), but few other bloggers in Israel know what I actually look like (Batya, Yisrael, Yo'el, Bob, Shmu'el, Jameel, Donny, Michael, Avi, Miriam, Devash, and Ge'ulah Girl...). Hmm...I guess a lot more than a few could recognize me, after all. Now, assuming each and everyone of the above plays it cool with my identity at the convention, and assuming all of the non-bloggers in attendance play it cool, and my self-centered, arrogant enemies couldn't care less about revealing my identity, I am still not willing to take the chance. Two anonymous bloggers mentioned to me that they were satisfied with how the convention protected their anonymity last year. Yet, from where I stand, I see too many variables which cannot be unaccounted. I don't like when these kind of "surprises" pop up, and so, I am unwilling to take any chances.
Many bloggers in Israel have reported to me that the main reason they are attending the convention is the social component. Any dissatisfaction they have with the convention's content or arrangement is easily overridden by the social and other networking opportunities the convention provides. From this I have determined that the convention is essentially, or primarily, a social event. As a rule, (1) I do not attend mixed social events. You don't have to agree with this policy of mine; you do not have to like it, approve of it, nor understand it. I have no intention of dictating to other bloggers what they should or should not do. So, do me a favor, and accord me the same courtesy. (...and since my presence at the convention, or lack thereof, will not make or break it, who cares?)
I await your threats and other assorted hate mail....