A few bloggers have shown an interest in why I will not be attending the First International Jewish Bloggers' Conference.
Before anyone criticizes me for having the hutzpah to pre-judge a conference before it even happens, please take the time to read what I have to say.
I will first state a fact (bold) about the conference. After each of the facts (bold), I will state my observations and assessments (not in bold), with which you are more than welcome to disagree.
You will undoubtedly be wrong, of course, but you are still welcome to disagree.
After all, the State of Israel has delusions of being a fair democracy. Jews and un-Jews in Israel have delusions that democracy has anything remotely to do with Torah. Why shouldn't you have delusions of being right, when you're actually wrong?
1. The agenda has changed radically over time.
The "panels" used to be smaller, and without moderators. Now they are bigger, and have moderators. But perhaps we can just chalk this up to being an "agenda in development."2. The panels include bloggers from varied backgrounds.
Personally, I think it's because "everyone wanted to get into the act." (Jimmy Durante),...and were going to throw major tantrums on their blogs if they weren't included.
The title of one of Israelly Cool's pieces on the conference says it all:
"The Egos Have Landed"
Tempted as I am, I do intend on naming names. Although I would love to get a hold of a video of the the conference so that I can confirm the suspicions I have regarding whose air is the hottest.
...nothing too radical on the perceived "right," and there is only some Torah bashing represented on the perceived "left." (No, I will not elaborate on this last statement. Do your own research.)3. The Conference has sponsors.
I found it interesting that some of my fellow bloggers felt that it was not pluralistic enough. They may technically be correct. Let's face it. There IS an agenda here (highlighted by me below), even it is one with which I agree.
I received this from Stephen Leavitt of Webads.co.il, who was kind enough to respond to my inquiry about the conference.Ya'aqov,I sent you the invitation because you are a Jewish blogger. No one is looking at your politics (unless perhaps you were anti-Aliyah).If you can't attend physically, you can still participate virtually via the webcam and chatroom.If that is possible, make sure you sign up for the virtual convention.-Stephen
In any event, I am not a pluralist, and am not in the least bit interested in participating in anything which provides equal time, and thus validation of, any anti-Torah perspective (respectful, secular Jews not withstanding),...regardless of any "good intentions."
If an "aliyah" survival tips conference were held, I would certainly consider participating with bloggers as diverse as The Hashmonean, Israel By Day, Lines Writing Lines (Faith In Nathan), and The Big Felafel.
I AM for "dialog" with Jews with whom I disagree, just not in this kind of forum. One of the panel participants My Shrapnel and I disagree on more than a few issues, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating the helpfulness I have found in her blog.
Why do we have to have this kind of forced unity? Let those bloggers who agree with one another get together with each other. Let us, and let them plot and plan. Why not? Our mutual distaste for each other will probably serve as very effective motivation for networking and innovation.
I most certainly will not be participating in any future conference which gives even a drop of validation to Arabs living in Israel.
WebAds.co.il and Nefesh b'Nefesh, whom I have nothing in particular against, are sponsoring the conference. I believe that one of the factors legitimizing bloggers as independent resources for news, information, and commentary, is our autonomy.
If we were to have any kind of conference, I believe it should be of the bloggers, for the bloggers, and by the bloggers. Outside interests should stay...outside.
Actually, we already have a Jewish Bloggers' Conference of the bloggers, for the bloggers, and by the bloggers.
Founded by Soccer Dad, and currently run by Jack at Random Thoughts, it's weekly, and it's called the Haveil Havalim Blog Carnival.
Think about it....
4. The costs of at least few blogger's flights are being covered, in exchange for small favors, like writing about a new immigrant family's experience.
Sounds nice on the surface, but then NBN gets to use your name. They may be a helpful organization, and you may like what they do (so far as I can tell, so do I), but this threatens to compromise your autonomy (See above #3).5. At least one representative from the Israeli Foreign Ministry will be present.
I was just informed that one blogger's flight is being covered for a reason not included in the above. I suppose that I am a partial recipient of this "gift," too, as I look forward to meeting this blogger in person when he arrives in Israel, and thus will receive benefit from the very money of which I am critical. Well, I guess I am now yotzei midei hovathi, regarding "full-disclosure."
Even a drop of compromised autonomy may cause a "drop" in your legitimacy as a source of news, information, and commentary, which stands apart from the mainstream news media,...assuming you WANT to stand outside the mainstream news media. No doubt, there are more than a few of you who like a job with them, in other words with the "establishment."
And speaking of the establishment....
I hope he has enough room on his tuchus fur alle de kushen.
6. A representative from the Israeli Foreign Ministry will be given an opportunity to address the attendees.
The director of "brand management" will be there.7. "Team-Building"
Bloggers I know of all sorts are critical of the government. What the hell is going to be doing there? I hope the my leftist and anarchist colleagues (if you could call them that) have just as much issue with him being there as I do (even though we couldn't give a rat's behind for the protection of each other's free speech,...let's be honest).
The fact that bloggers are in the same room with him, and NOT heckling him, or at least there to ask him difficult questions greatly disturbs me. And, no, I do not care if he is "just a civil servant" or not. He's part and parcel of the guh-ment., or if you like, the G. O. Y. (Goverment Of Yisrael).
Even worse, he may be there to provide tips on public relations [PR], which I am ardently against. For goodness sakes already! Who gives a hoot as to what the goyim think of us?! They either want to kill our physical selves (Yishmael) or kill our spiritual selves (Esau) . Move on!
And, as for communicating with Jews outside of Israel, we certainly do not need any marionette strings surgically attached by some guh-ment official.
Why would I want to team build? Well, actually, I might, but not with my arch-nemeses. And, why on earth would I want to participate in "Team-Building" designed by the very Israeli Defense Forces [IDF] which expels Jews from their homes, destroys batei keneseth (synagogues), and whose "rabbis" have been silent about it?
Why would I want to participate in "Team-Building" designed by the very IDF which throws soldiers in jail for choosing HaShem and Torah over anti-HaShem and anti-Torah "orders?"
Why would I want to participate in "Team-Building" designed by the very IDF which takes soldiers to the Kotel (Western Wall) to teach them about Christianity and Islam as truths side by side with Judaism, and if anyone complains, saying that we should be talking exclusively of Judaism, s/he gets written up? (Yes, this happened, only a month ago at the Kotel.)
No thanks. I don't care how effective, or ineffective their indoctrination "team building" techniques are. I want no part of them.
Clarification: My issue is not with the soldiers not IDF per se. It with the generals, and in particular any pseudo-religious generals, running the show.
As I commented on Life In Israel's post on the conference, the minute someone makes a big deal an event's food being "mehadrin," when half the people at said event may not even know what that means, yet feel they to pretend that they do, my experience is that I should be suspicious about how "mehadrin" the event itself will be....and no, I am not talking about separate seating.8. Security
But now that you brought it up...
I do find it odd that the "frum contingent" is apparently "frum" based on its livush, not the least of which is its collection of black hats. Oh brother. It looks like Jerusalem maybe be invaded by even more "American Haredim" (sigh) For those of you unfamiliar with this term, one neither has to be American nor "haredi" to qualify. In fact, some claim that being truly haredi automatically disqualifies you from being "American Haredi."
I mean let's face it. Anyone who identifies as "frum" couldn't be THAT "frum," and anyone who identifies as "ultra-orthodox" couldn't be THAT ultra if s/he is attending a mixed, essentially social, event.
See, leftists? The conference isn't as slanted as you thought!
Sure, lots of bloggers have expressed concerns about anonymity. The conference planners believe that they have taken care of this with the video feed option. Even though those watching could be easily traced.
Let's face it. The Shabba"k (Israeli secret police) already knows who each and everyone of us is. They have already "visited" Nati of Mystical Paths. They READ English language blogs. I also have no doubt that there are bloggers out there who are actually sympathetic to the Shabba"k "Jewish Department." That's not the point.
As a very wise rabbi once said, "If a Shabba"k agent is too lazy to pick up the phone book to see that your address and phone number are listed, then by all means, do NOT help him do his job."
(Some of us pay good tax dollars toward their salaries. Let's get our money's worth.)
But, seriously, Tomer Devorah's comments on her own post Comment On Current Events says it all.... (check it out)
Even for those not so concerned with anonymity, the conference organizers have made a point of screening who attends. Initially I was taken aback by a note on the conference on-line application form:"*Spaces are limited and admission is subject to approval."
Subject to approval? How would they decide who approved and who is not? Bentzi Kluwgant of Nefesh b'Nefesh, was also kind enough to respond to my inquiry:
As spaces are very limited, and there has been huge interest, we are trying to ensure that everyone who is admitted is a bona fide blogger.
You will be notified shortly regarding admission to the conference.
Benzi KluwgantSmall comfort, as I am more concerned about the nut jobs who ARE bona fide bloggers, than anyone trying to sneak in. Yeah, who would try to sneak in? I guess we'll have to see how good the security turns out to be.
Marketing & Communications Manager
9. Final Note
Batya does make a good point:
"Any jblogger can sign up to participate. Kvetching before it happens and not taking part is like complaining about the results of elections you don’t vote in.
Vote with your feet or mouse…"
In theory, this makes sense, yet, I believe I have produced enough evidence (my opinions aside) to show that "establishment" is involved. To what degree it is involved you may choose to debate. To what degree one is comfortable with the involvement of the "establishment," is for each individual to decide.
I, for one, stopped feeling comfortable with the "establishment," long before the "establishment" failed to prevent an Arab from blowing himself right next to me, six years ago, and failed to compensate me with a single "establishment" sheqqel.
Now you know why I blog. It's because of the "establishment" I blog.
And, now you know why I am not attending the First International Jewish Bloggers' Conference.