Friday, June 13, 2014

Anti-Semitism is not a Soccer Ball

Michael L.

hate1 In a recent article for the Times of Israel, Ian Ben Zion tells us that an Israeli Knesset member is claiming that the Nike ad below, for the 2014 World Cup, is anti-Semitic.

He writes:
Nike’s long Internet ad, released Monday in advance of the kickoff of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on Thursday, features animated international soccer stars competing against clones who have taken over the sport and sapped the game of its fun.

The diabolical automatons don a logo designed to appear like a soccer ball with six white spots on a black background, which Ohayon claimed is intentionally similar to a Star of David.

Ohayon, chairman of a Knesset caucus for the struggle against anti-Semitism, said in a statement that “the new anti-Semitic propaganda is insidious and conveys anti-Semitic messages in a subtle fashion, an example of which is the Nike Corporation.”

Much to my astonishment the Anti-Defamation League agrees with me that the piece is certainly NOT anti-Semitic:
“Anyone who thinks this is anti-Semitism is certainly off base,” an ADL spokesperson said in a statement, rejecting a remark to that end by MK Shimon Ohayon of the Yisrael Beytenu party. “You can put anything in a configuration of six. Just because it appears to look like the Star of David, it does not mean it is.” 
I usually find the ADL and Abe Foxman to be too old fashioned in their thinking and more concerned about fighting the old withering anti-Semitism of the past while often ignoring its current vibrant mutations.

It seems to me that people do not really understand what anti-Semitism is.  They often seem to think that it means holding a dislike for Jewish people in one's heart.

This is false.

Anti-Semitism is not how one viscerally feels about Jewish people, which is why so many people who make anti-Semitic claims deny that they are anti-Semitic.  It is not necessarily that they are trying to deceive anyone, but that since they do not feel a dislike for Jews they therefore conclude that whatever they say concerning either Israel, or the Jewish people, can simply not be anti-Semitic.

We have to make it clear that anti-Semitism is not about what one feels, but what one says.  It is not a matter of liking or disliking Jews.  It has nothing to do with any feelings that a person may have that are positive or negative or comforting or disturbing or anything else, because it is not about feelings.  It is about expression.  It is about discourse.

The discourse, however, creates and spreads hatred which, obviously, leads to violence.  What we can reasonably ask for, as a historically oppressed minority, is that our critics make sure that they are not holding the Jews to a double-standard.

Anti-Semitism, furthermore, is not an essential condition.  It is the expression of a certain specific set of concepts that have traditionally led to violence against Jews in the past and which has led, in truth, to almost our complete annihilation within recent generations.

A person can despise Jews with every fiber of their being, yet not be an anti-Semite if they do not repeat classic anti-Semitic themes.  On the other hand, a person can have a true love and caring for the Jewish people, yet be an outrageous anti-Semite.

David Harris-Gershon might be a very good example of this kind of person.  In his writings he always is careful to point out that he is a Jew that cares deeply about the well-being of the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel.  Nonetheless, he repeats classic anti-Semitic themes such as that the Jews (or "Zionists" I suppose he might say), via organizations like AIPAC, have too much negative influence over the United States government.

Now that, my friends, is anti-Semitism because it repeats an anti-Semitic theme and in this case it is the very theme that Hitler exploited.  It would be as if to say that in every generation in the past this particular theme was false and we regret it, but in this generation it happens to be true!

One of the biggest problems that we have as a community is that many well-meaning Jews, including perhaps Harris-Gershon, do not know the meaning of the word "anti-Semitism" and thus find themselves to be what I have called in the past "accidental anti-Semites."  They are often Jewish people or friends of Jewish people who may have friends or family in Israel, but who simply cannot move beyond the idea that the Light Unto the Nations is killing innocent Arab children in the Holy Land.

This is an exceedingly powerful meme or theme or motif and, if it fills your heart, then from a moral perspective one does not have much choice but to spread disinformation and hatred toward Jews, particularly if one is a Jew filled with warm feelings for "healing the world" or, as we say, Tikkun Olam.  

The irony, of course, is both profound and rich.

Every generation the Jewish people are told just why it is that we deserve a good beating and this generation is different in only one meaningful way.  In the past we were told that we were awful for killing Jesus or creating and exploiting capitalism or creating and exploiting socialism.  In this generation we are told that we are in violation of "social justice" and "universal human rights" - concepts that the Jewish people pioneered - and that is now the reason that we are told we are in need of a good beating.

It is always important to know just why it is that they want to kick the crap out of us during any particular season.  In this season it is because we allegedly offend social justice, which is precisely why the great majority of anti-Semitic themes today, outside of political Islam, come out of progressive-left venues.

Nonetheless, the Nike ad above is certainly not anti-Semitic.  Here is an image of the evil "Clones" which a Knesset member found to be anti-Semitic:


See the six pointed "star" on their chest?  That's his whole case  Of course, what we are looking at is no Star of David but merely a soccer ball.

I have in the past been accused of flinging around accusations of anti-Semitism as if they are confetti.

The truth is that I almost never accuse any individual of being anti-Semitic because I understand that this particular affliction is not one of essence, but of discourse, of expression.  Harris-Gershon is probably not in his own mind a hater of Jews.  But that is also entirely irrelevant.  If one injects anti-Semitic themes into the broader conversation, as he most certainly does, then one is spreading hatred towards Jews, which is precisely what Harris-Gershon does on a daily basis and does so, or so he would tell us, out of love for humanity and desire to see social justice in the pursuit of universal human rights.

Before we start flinging around accusations of anti-Semitism, it might be helpful to understand what it is and what it is not.

The Nike ad is not.


  1. Soccer players don't wear head gear but these guys do. They look to me like over sized yarmulkes. Not even over sized. I remember old guys from Europe with kippahs like that.

    Sorry Mike. I haven't watched the video much. I have no sound anyway at the moment so I am going just on my reaction to the image and I'm not as sanguine as you. Although I agree the allegation can not be made. There's no point in leading with your chin.

    I'm not even sure the question can be asked. But I sure would like to know why this vast multinational with a huge market in Africa, South America, Asia and the Middle East would at enormous expense and after an analysis of what sells in that market that would have involved enough research to fire a think tank comes up with a piece that has as the bad guys in some universal struggle a team that for absolute certain would be at least subliminally recognised as "the Jews" and Nike would absolutely certainly know this.

    So I've got to ask why. Companies like Nike are usually controversy averse. They go out of their way to avoid being misunderstood.

    Have a look through the list of the competing teams in Brazil. Probably a majority are deeply and expressly antisemitic countries of various stages of obsession. . They include the worst in the world. In most of the rest of the countries antisemitism would probably do no real harm to a brand these days it is sad to say.

    Companies like Nike are run by governments bigger than quite a few countries. I think they know exactly what they are doing.

    1. Geoff, I think that this is the kind of question that people of good will can simply agree to disagree upon.

      I'm just not feeling the hate.

    2. And let's not forget our friend, Herr Freud, who said that sometimes a cigar is merely a cigar... to paraphrase.

      C'mon, Geoff, you honestly think that this is an example of anti-Semitism?

      I am not yet convinced.

      If someone can link me to the best case, please do so and I will give it as fair a read as I can.

    3. I would never make the allegation. There is not enough evidence. I haven't even seen the video. But we are among friends and this thing makes me uncomfortable and I don't mind saying so.

      Its just that these guys deal in images, perceptions and subliminal messages as a science. I find it impossible to believe that they would not have foreseen at least how the image could go down.

      Having said that, it is a mistake to attack the ad. To do so could even be to play into Nike's business plan.

    4. We seem to be largely in agreement.

      We both agree that the allegation of anti-Semitism cannot reasonably be made concerning this Nike ad.

      And, you are right, we are among friends which is why we can have these conversations in frank and forthright manners without descending into acrimony and ad hominems.

      I am very proud of that fact for this place, actually.

      This, however, does give me pause:

      "I sure would like to know why this vast multinational with a huge market in Africa, South America, Asia and the Middle East would at enormous expense and after an analysis of what sells in that market that would have involved enough research to fire a think tank comes up with a piece that has as the bad guys in some universal struggle a team that for absolute certain would be at least subliminally recognised as "the Jews" and Nike would absolutely certainly know this."

      So, basically, you do not want me to sleep tonight, is that what you are saying?

      Oh, for G-d's Sake, let me think on this.

      It just seems too abstract and I don't think that most people would pick up on it if we do not make an issue of it, which you aluded to.

      You know what, Geoff, I am going to let this one go. We have nothing to gain by making a stink and I am still not in a position to pass judgement on the makers of this commercial.

      It is going to air and there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it and the case to be made that it is anti-Semitic is too thin a reed to stand upon.

    5. In a day and age when even suggesting there's a discussion to be hard about cartoons of the prophet Mohammed gets people shot to death and a thousand maniacs boil out into the street to call the extermination of a million people, I say Nike should be beaten half to death over this. Sorry, but those are the rules we're forced to live by. You don't like it? I'll be over here dressed as Allah for the next gay pride parade and waving a flaming Koran.

  2. It's kind of like South Park's flag isn't racist.

  3. The naivety of you people is astounding. Why don't you learn more about the largest industry in the world: marketing and Advertising. Then learn about the commercial. It is as Nazi anti-Semitic as it gets.

    First watch the commercial all the way through. Ask yourself how many Nike swooshes and skulls did you see. Now go frame by frame and look. There is a ton of both that I guarantee you missed (look on the walls, and on the soccer balls for example, frame by frame)

    That tells us the commercial is subliminal. So one has to ask, to the subliminal is that a Jewish star on the jersey ? Of course it is since the subliminal mind "abstracts" (ie uses crude not exact representations, as opposed to the conscious mind). But if you need further proof, look at the guy on the scaffold pasting the poster. The Bad Clone he is pasting has a clear large Jewish blue star in his eye. And there are a ton of Jewish stars (different than the jerseys) on that poster surrounding the non human evil Jews, but a golden glow surrounding the Christian humans .

    The Christian v Jew theme is everywhere. It starts with a golden soccer ball from heaven falling down from Christ the Redeemer. In the cave, there is one soccer player as a statue in the crucified position, the human players look down at RIO from Christ The Redeemer's position prior to the last game, and of course there are Christian symbols on the human Jerseys, etc....

    Companies like Nike are experts in symbols and how they are interpreted and enforce their own symbols vigorously (so if you use a design similar to Nikes, see what happens).

    Bottom line, the ad exploits the subconscious to leverage and increase the widespread hatred of Jews esp among soccer fans, and the commercial exploits the biffonery of our Jewish watchdog groups that are still fighting the crude ineffective 1930 style anti-Semitism, despite enormous undeserved 5 million plus salaries of Heir and Foxman.

    The next Holocaust is already in motion. Denial might make it less painful and quicker.

    1. Oh but the Nazis believed that subliminal was more effective than overt. Just read the writings of Joseph Goebbels. He attributed the commercial success, and effectiveness of Jud Suss to its subliminal as opposed to the more overt The Eternal Jew. Watch Jud Suss frame by frame, there is a ton of subliminal.

      Here is the Goebbell's reference: Lee writes that Goebbels had learned to "introduce propaganda as a subliminal message within the context of a story with which the audience could identify." The Nazi antisemitic message was more subtly and artfully presented in the feature film format that Goebbels preferred.[114]

      Lee, Stephen J. (2000). European dictatorships, 1918–1945. Psychology Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-415-23046-9. Retrieved 29 October 2011.

      All really effective Nazi anti-Semitic propoganda incorporates Christian themes in order to justify the persecution of Jews.

      The next Holocaust is one push of a button away in the form of a nuke from Iran, which the US is doing somersaults in order to provide Iran this ability and prevent Israel from taking any action. Then we will all look back and say "Why didn't we stop it"?

      Nike commercials, films like Drive, etc.. are creating the environment to allow the next Holocaust by a subtle yet sustained villification of Jews. It is working, you just can't see that. No offence but understanding modern media is something very few people understand.

    2. Martin, welcome to Israel Thrives and thank you for dropping in.

      Here is a question for you:

      Do you honestly believe that high level decision makers within the Nike Corporation intentionally and explicitly set out to make a commercial for the World Cup that spreads hatred toward Jews?

      If so, what would be the motive?

      Or does your thinking on the question account for the possibility - although I would say extreme likelihood - that the creators of this commercial had no conscious intention to create an anti-Semitic product?

    3. I am not sure who knew but the creators of the commercial definitely knew. Just freeze the frame where the poster is being glued onto the building. It is only two frames. The blue Jewish star in the clones eye, and the Jewish stars surrounding the clones should dispel all doubt.

      Billions are spent on advertising, and these companies hire psychologists and also carefully monitor changes in sales after a commercial so they know what works.

      The motive is that their research showed, or they knew that there is extreme hate for Jews among soccer fans in Europe and the Middle East. So they leveraged this by making Jews the villians. Because of this, the viewer is emotionally invested in the commercial, which makes it more effective.

      Thanks, and I like your site. We Jews do not always appreciate how much hatred there is for Jews and how much money is behind that hatred. Our enemies merely changed the way their message is delivered and made it much more sophisticated and effective, but at the same time, much more subtle.

      The ADL, Weisenthal, and our courts are clueless and ineffectual in stopping this. We need new leadership that will not repeat what happened during the last Holocaust.

    4. I tell you what, you have sparked my interest enough to return to that ad and give it a look through the parameters that you have suggested.

      You, sir, are an interesting fellah and welcome here any time.

    5. One of the best examples I can give you, of mind manipulation, is one of the most successful commercials of all time: The Cadbury Gorilla commercial. People that watched it, non-consciously associated Cadbury with liberation, eg doing what you always wanted to do. The fact that Cadbury was only very briefly flashed during the commercial at the end, made the association between Cadbury and liberation (in the non-conscious mind) all the more powerful, not less. Sales of Cadbury went up so high, that it set records for a commercial. So when people passed the candy section after having watched the commercial, they had an urge and bought the Cadbury without knowing why (unconsciously associating Cadbury with liberation).

      Here is what an Iranian screenwriter and a Danish Director (he produces commercials) came up with:

      Drive is the Nazi Jew hating film Jud Suss repackaged. Every single Nazi anti-Semitic stereotype is there. It is just subtle, camouflaged, and subliminal. What makes it all the more troubling is that the book it was based on was philoSemitic.

      Just like the few Jews that warned the world about the Nazis, the people warning about this more serious new wave are spit on, mocked and derided, mostly by their fellow Jews. No other group would tolerate a film like Drive, or a commercial like The Last Game.