About the author

grandmuffti

37 Comments

  • Well, we can at least relax knowing that he won’t be doing the organ-trading ring from New Jersey and attaching it to us somehow because that’s already been done by somebody else.

    But seriously, if it weren’t in Swedish and if there had been drawings involved, you would swear that story resembles the stuff EV does.

  • Only if sites like Jewlicious boasted that organ harvesting was the purest expression of Jewish identity and Peoplehood.

    Otherwise it wouldn’t really work as a comic.

  • Is it really worthy of a reaction? Fine. First let’s talk about Jewlicious. EV keeps painting Jewlicious as a monolithic entity, one that reflects and promotes the notions presented in his banned by the Forward cartoon. EV really needs to read Jewlicious more before passing such a sweeping judgment. The vast majority of our writers live outside of Israel and there’s a difference between liking, even loving Israel and viewing it as the penultimate manifestation of Jewish expression. I mean it’s a cartoon so it’s difficult to present Israel as the multi-faceted and complicated place that it is. But ultimately, this cartoon is about American Jewry and that’s where EV fails in his portrayal yet again. But it is a cartoon, and the hot Jewish organizational mess portrayed by EV is, again, a simplistic caricature. Ultimately, if the American Jews portrayed in his comic are so shit hot for the monkeys, why don’t they move to the land of the monkeys? The majority don’t even visit. The majority make personal decisions that are not very monkey-like. So yeah. Sorry it got spiked by the Forward, and we’ve done our part in undoing the damage caused by the silencing of EV’s voice – but the only value this cartoon has is in discussing why and how EV got it SO wrong.

  • “Only if sites like Jewlicious boasted that organ harvesting was the purest expression of Jewish identity and Peoplehood.”

    Oh come on, that’s not even close to the standard you use. Take a look at this classic by you and tell me that you don’t see the resemblance to that fine bit of Swedish reporting…

    http://www.forward.com/articles/15032/

  • Ooooh how controversial!

    Why do you guys insist on promoting people like this? First it was that Jewschool tool, then Amy Winehouse and now this guy? I just don’t get.

    • Why do you guys insist on promoting people like this?

      Jewish discourse used to be marked by controversies just as Jewish learning used to consist out of heated debate. EV has spurred possibilty for such discourse yet again, and I’m grateful for it – not because I necessarily agree with his position but because I find the cuddle-group complacency we’ve experienced lately intellectually numbing to the extent of sickening.

  • Best comment ever made by Mike Darnell on our fine website. By all means, please click on the link under his photo and BUY his art!

    Btw Mike, I’d bet money that you would sell more of the one you call C*** if you just called it Vagina. Not to intrude on your artistic integrity or anything.

    If you want to sell it to Eli Valley, you can call it Zionist C***.

  • Yo, Middle– as unpaid in-house counsel to you chimps, you may want to review use of those hyperlinks.

    • DK: We tried debating in English, but have had no response from our erstwhile cartoonist. I understand his distaste of course as we are all, each and every one of us, semi-literate troglodytes and Zionist supremacists. Oh well.

  • Hi Ephraim!

    Muff — No, that doesn’t work because it’s obvious you’re joking. It would have to be an earnest post by “The Middle” that insisted that all criticism of organ donating was a violent expression of anti-Semitism reminiscent of the Dreyfus Affair. He hasn’t done it yet; give him a week or two.

    The Middle — We discussed that comic at length in the past; I recommend you take time away from your usual afternoon chores (surfing through your favorite Stormfront bookmarks and chewing your fingernails) and reread what I wrote there.

    ck — Hey lil’ buddy! Okay, so one by one: When I speak of Jewlicious’s reactionary, simplistic and ideologically extremist posts, I’m not referring to everybody who contributes here but to the founder, figurehead, director, CEO, etc., i.e., you. We’ve had this discussion before, and I don’t want to eat up your bandwidth on this, but you know I reject your assertions, through repeated posts, that Israel is the height of Jewish identity, Diaspora equals death, intermarriage is suicide, non-Orthodox Judaism is a fallacy, non-Orthodox rabbis aren’t rabbis, etc. If you were just the web coder and not the promulgator of these views, I wouldn’t have a problem with Jewlicious. That your #2 man seems to be The Middle, whose primary function seems to be to writing press releases about how The World Hates The Jews, and your #3 man (and “Jewish American Hero,” Rabbi Yonah!) has openly mocked the death of a secular Jew (I see it’s since been appended with an “explanation” — classy), you can excuse me for drawing conclusions about the slant of this site. But yeah, your other contributors don’t seem to be as bizarre, reactionary and extreme. Kudos to you!

    Per your assertions that it’s a comic and therefore oversimplifies: It’s true that one ingredient of satire is simplification (think “A Modest Proposal”). But I should emphasize that my comics are a satire of oversimplifications rampant in the Jewish community, no less so than on this very site (just this past week: Israel equals sexual fulfillment, Arabs and Muslims cannot possibly believe in a two-state solution). If these simplifications weren’t rampant, I wouldn’t be drawing comics. The difference is that my comics mock simplifications. Jewlicious — and again, by Jewlicious I mean its figurehead — perpetuates them. You have unlimited space here; you can write posts that provide nuance and speak of the complexities inherent in these issues. Instead, you perpetuate ideological myths, over and over and over again.

    Per your final point — this is a valid criticism if you read my comic as a portrayal of all American Jews. But from the start, as is hopefully evident in the classroom in the first panel set in America, this is a satire not of the majority but of that subset of American Jews who attend Jewish day schools, camps and other outlets of formal and informal Jewish education — i.e., Jews who are brought up on Zionist education. This is an internal discussion on Jewish education; to say that most Jews don’t have a Jewish education and therefore the comic is “SO wrong” is to avoid talking about these issues.

    But to be clear: My comic is a condemnation of the simplistic way “affiliated” American Jews educate their young — something that has had, in my “simplistic” opinion, complicated and fraught repercussions for Israel, for America and for Jewish identity. I couldn’t go into all the details in a single comic, but hopefully it sparked something. It’s possible that you don’t like this comic, or other similar satires, because it’s mocking an education system you hold very close to your heart. But calling it “inaccurate” misses both the target and the purpose of satire.

    I do hope this comic spurs debate about Zionist education in the Diaspora. It might not happen on Jewlicious, but hopefully it’ll happen.

    • EV! Glad the comments on Gawker abated sufficiently for you to find the time to grace us with a comment. I’m glad you finally understood that Jewlicious is indeed NOT a monolith. In the future, should you wish to criticize me, it might be a good idea to oh… direct the criticism to me and not to the entire Web site. So it seems your criticism is as follows:

      “you know I reject your assertions, through repeated posts, that Israel is the height of Jewish identity, Diaspora equals death, intermarriage is suicide, non-Orthodox Judaism is a fallacy, non-Orthodox rabbis aren’t rabbis, etc.”

      Uhm. So? You can reject whatever you like and, like your comics, your characterizations are a gross oversimplification, if not an outright distortion of my beliefs and my actions. Israel is the height of Jewish identity? Have I ever said that? Hmmm. No. And given that the vast majority of our writers are in the diaspora, I don’t know where in Jewlicious you got that idea. Again, I know you’re used to dealing in gross oversimplifications and messages that are – how did MissNormaDesmond on Gawker characterize it? Oh yes. Ham-handed as hell. But there is a difference between loving and valuing Israel, and promoting its importance in one’s Jewish identity, and saying that “Israel is the height of Jewish identity.” I frankly wouldn’t even know what that means. Is there a “height of Jewish Identity?” Like Jewlicious, Judaism was never a monolith. If Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai can both be equally valid then any notion of Judaism of Judaism that posits itself as penultimate is problematic. Look at how often an argument ends in “Teku” in the gemarah! So we can have our opinions and we can argue about them with each other, but I can assure you, none of us here at Jewlicious believes that God talks to them directly. And that includes me. And muffti of course.

      So next assertion: “Diaspora equals death.” As one who is familiar with the history of the Jewish people, I can’t help but be aware of our role as victims. This week was the 80th anniversary of the Hebron massacre so I know that “death” happens both in the Diaspora and in the confines of our ancestral homeland. “Diaspora equals death” is another one of your projections I’m afraid-something else that I’ve never said. Preferring to live in a Jewish State or a State for the Jews, however you want to cut it, doesn’t mean that I am guaranteeing my bodily integrity against those who would nuke me or stab me or blow me up in a bus or pizzeria. It just means that I feel more at home here. More empowered, more intimately tied to the land and my fellow citizens.

      Next? “intermarriage is suicide.” I’m not a fan of intermarriage. But people are free to do as they wish. Pointing out the dismal rates of Jewish identification amongst the offspring of the intermarried is simply stating a statistical fact. That having been said, no one has ever been dismissed or shunned by me because they were intermarried or the offspring of the intermarried. This is regardless of whether or not they are halachically Jewish. For instance, just like I recommended you to ROI 120, I also recommended a number of folks who were not halachically Jewish. This is in recognition of the possibility that said dismal rates of Jewish identification can be improved by a more open minded and welcoming approach towards the intermarried and their children. Again, I’ll do anything I can to discourage intermarriage, but that being said, intermarriage is not a death sentence in my eyes, nor in the eyes of anyone that I know of at Jewlicious. Another case of oversimplification or projection I guess.

      And finally… “non-Orthodox Judaism is a fallacy, non-Orthodox rabbis aren’t rabbis” – these are things that pretty much any Orthodox Jew believes. Every single one. It’s not really remarkable at all. I should add that non-Orthodox Rabbis aren’t MY rabbis. I don’t feel bound by their rulings and I don’t recognize their authority over me. But I still recognize that they are the leaders of a sizable group of Jewish people and I accord them the respect that they merit. Thus we have non-orthodox and alternative services at the Jewlicious Festival, we’ve had non-orthodox rabbis participate as panelists and speakers and I am pretty sure that the vast majority of our writers aren’t Orthodox either. To say the least. I’m just honestly expressing my beliefs, which I am entitled to do, and doing so without sugarcoating them with a thin, insincere patina of political correctness. Gotta love those mixed metaphors!

      I trust i’ve added a little depth and nuance to your incorrect initial premise. Shall we go on?

      There is no real hierarchy here. TM is not my #2 man, rabbi Yo is not my #3 man, they like every one else that writes for Jewlicious, are given free rein to write whatever they like. I’m not so pompous and arrogant as to call myself the publisher and editor blah blah blah. Pretty much all our writers have full admin privileges, exactly the same as mine. That having been said, TM’s oeuvre is a heck of a lot broader than “The World Hates The Jews.” Again, to say the least. And we have never written a press release related to the blog. And the worst thing you could find about Rabbi Yonah was that Sherwin Wine post? I think Rabbi Yonah adequately explained himself. Not that I think he had to. Rabbi Yonah works with Jews of all stripes and persuasions on a daily basis. The Jewlicious Festival clearly demonstrates that – there is no other event like it that unites such a broad and diverse group of Jews. No one is made to feel uncomfortable, or less Jewish. You’ll never see another event (except for maybe a KinkyJews.com party in NY) that includes Lesbian peace activists, Hassidic rabbis and everyone in between. Our mission in running these events is to create positive Jewish experiences so that people can more accurately determine the role they feel Judaism ought to play in their lives.

      I know! SO “bizarre, reactionary and extreme!”

      Your criticism of Rabbi Yonah’s irreverent post is especially odd coming from a guy who drew God as an uncircumcised rapist! I guess only former Jewschoolers have a license to be irreverent and deeply offensive!

      Just as an aside, you do Jonathan Swift a great injustice by calling “A Modest Proposal” an example of “simplification.” His work has been read and reread for 280 years. I trust you’re not likening your drawings to his essay. But yes. You are indeed a master of gross oversimplification! The uh, main thrust of the Israel Is Sex post was not remotely that Israel=sexual fulfillment, and the J-Street post simply asked some questions about curious bed fellows. Oh, and it also took umbrage with some shoddy as shit polling techniques, the kind that you are quick to crucify when used by an establishment Jewish organization, but that you out and out ignore when used by a darling of yours.

      So yeah, we try our best. We never had a patron like Michael Steinhardt to provide us with a swank Manhattan office with ping pong and fooz ball tables and staff that got liquored up at the regular office parties, said liquor also provided for by Jewish philanthropic dollars. I have to make a living while doing this Jewlicious thing and despite that, I infuse my content with nuance and provide an open platform for further discussion. Your characterization of my writing as perpetuating rampant over-simplification is demonstrably wrong. But I guess you’d have to read it without ideological blinders, something you seem totally incapable of doing.

      As for the targets of your comic “…a condemnation of formal and informal education among the actively engaged Jewish communities of the Diaspora,” I wouldn’t say that Jewish education in America is beyond reproach. But the fact that you’ve had to explain what it is exactly that you are condemning on every forum discussing your comic that I have read shows that your message was lost due to your uhm… flair for the dramatic. But other than that massive failure, and the other gross inaccuracies contained therein, yeah, great comic. Trust me, it made me laugh and laugh. Though probably not for the reasons you were hoping for.

      And the monkey metaphor? As usual, it puts you in GREAT company! Looking forward to even more enlightened discourse!

  • Dude, it was in bold. People don’t joke about that kinda shit in bold.

    Muffti was a product of Canadian jewish education which he imagines isn’t all THAT different than US style. It was an awful lot less simplistic than you are making it out to be.

  • Yes EV, we discussed The Shonda before and I didn’t buy your argument then and continue to reject it now.

    I’ll let Muffti and ck speak for themselves. I see Muffti is already correcting you GENTLY for your silliness. However, I still have to address this sîmple-mindedness/
    “That your #2 man seems to be The Middle, whose primary function seems to be to writing press releases about how The World Hates The Jews…”

    Um, I also post nice pictures sometimes.

    Since I’m anonymous and you’re not, I’m just going to kindly let yet another couple of your errors slide. I will say, however, that your comics and statements about us, about Zionists and about the mainstream Jewish community really speak much more about your difficulties and insecurities than about us, Zionists or the mainstream Jewish community.

  • TM wrote,

    I will say, however, that your comics and statements about us, about Zionists and about the mainstream Jewish community really speak much more about your difficulties and insecurities than about us

    I would say that self-criticism is often a sign of vibrancy and engagement. For many of us, the present and ancient Jewish condition is indeed replete with ambivalence and insecurity, and yet these expressions of doubt are simultaneously proof of their continued draw.

    Additionally, these intense disagreements are often rooted in various schools of Jewish thought that in many ways, precede Zionism, and even the Diaspora. These aren’t entirely new disagreements by any means.

    To me, EV’s comics are a source of communal pride. There are other cultures — and I am in no way targeting Muslim or haredi communities specifically — where such dissent and satire would not be tolerated.

  • If Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai can both be equally valid then any notion of Judaism of Judaism that posits itself as penultimate is problematic.

    Only frummies think that. Most of us can’t stand Bais Shammai. They were frequently thugs, they even killed Bais Shammai to get their way on the 18 gazeras, and they crafted–or at least, recast — an intensely supremacist version of Judaism. I guess it depends on what you mean by saying “valid.” Are they part of our religion? Our POV? They are, more than we usually concede. We pretend we pasken by Hillel. But Bais Shammai’s spiritual descendants often seem to hold the cards, ultimately. Maybe you are saying something true, and candid. But it isn’t something that most non-ultra-Orthodox Jews perceive or believe. Most of us don’t believe they are as “valid” as Bais Hillel. And the fact is, that relationship was not always as loving or as “respectful” as we pretend it was.

  • At the risk of being called a “fearmonger, semi-literate and yahoo” I have to say it’s game, set and match for CK. For someone who is supposedly “bizarre, reactionary and extreme,” that was as measured and eloquent a takedown as I have read in a long time. My own personal perspective probably lies somewhere in between that of EV and CK, but CK’s perspective was far more persuasive IMHO.

  • “Beit Shamai bimeḳom Beit Hillel einah Mishnah”

    Yes, Beit Shamai were dicks and the Eighteen Gezerot were promulgated as the result of intimidation, violence and death. But at one time they coexisted and we still study the differences between the two. Beit Hillel lights the Chanukiah one candle at a time, while Beit Shamai starts with all the candles lit and removes one a day. Beit Hillel has liberal divorce laws, Beit Shamai permits divorce only under strict conditions, Shamai admits only the best students to study Torah whereas Hillel encourages everyone to do so.

    In any case, it was just an example of two differing opinions coexisting and being considered equally valid. We often see Rabbis expressing contradictory opinions, all that is required is that said opinions be derived via rigorous Torah study and that adherents of one or another tradition be consistent in their beliefs rather than picking and choosing. You want to observe Sephardic custom and eat Kitniyot? Fine. Then do slichot every day for a month. Ugh. OK not exactly on point but I wanted to vent.

    Oh and rozi and p to the e, thanks for being fearmongering, semi-literate yahoos and supporting my bizarre, reactionary and extreme opinions. Heh…

  • Apparently EV’s comics are on point often enough to get a lot of knickers in a knot.

    In my profession, I often have to evaluate style and how content is related / organised, and I’ve seen a lot of widely acclaimed yet badly organised, unfocused, and overall pointless babble that is not fit to hold a candle to EV’s comics. Disagree with his views all you want, but his style is good as in being consistent, to-the-point, and sharp.

  • Jewlicious clearly puts out a diversity of points of view, and ck has an admirable, strong commitment to freedom of speech– but the same can be said for the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. To this neutral observer, the blog is right-of-center politically, indeed increasingly so. See, e.g., the emergent status of J Street as whipping-boy; we don’t get like scrutiny of the foibles of AIPAC.

    I’m not advocating the latter, simply making what seems to me a self-evident point about the center of gravity on the blog. If you’re taking on J Street substantively, for example, you’re effectively taking on Obama and what constitutes majority Jewish opinion here in the US, which supports his policy of creating “daylight” between this country and Israel.

    In another example, left-of-center types (EV, KFJ, xisnotx) are far more likely to face verbal takedowns by Middle (our self-described moderate) and others, than are hard-right contributors. And ck’s uncritical alignment with Othodoxy’s denial of legitimacy to other denominations would’ve sparked an in-house uproar back in the day.

    • AIPAC is just a lot more savvy than J Street. Could you imagine AIPAC having a poll run and directly analyzed by their VP and then clumsily hiding the fact that he or she is their VP and then trying to pass off the results as scientific?? AIPAC is a colossus and J-Street is trying to play with the big boys. Who knows? Maybe they’ll get more savvy as time goes on, but so far I’m not impressed. I can say that for the most part I personally support Obama. I have no issue with a two state solution. Let me know when there’s someone authoritative we can negotiate with! In any case, said support need not be blind. Isn’t that how J-Street justifies it’s pro-Israel cred?

      As for the takedowns, I think the right wing nutbars that grace our pages on occasion are, well… prima facie ridiculous. They usually don’t merit any kind of response, whereas others who frame their sometimes unfair arguments in an otherwise reasonable manner, require a response. When we tangle with someone, it’s usually a sign of respect. As for my “uncritical alignment with Othodoxy’s denial of legitimacy to other denominations” – dude. How many times do I have to explain that? Do I have to get into the fish sticks issue again? Yes? OK. I went shopping in Montreal and saw some fish sticks with a nice fancy kosher sign – a rare treat! As I was standing in line, bored, I read the ingredients and saw that said fish sticks contained shrimp particles! Totally unkosher! At least by my standards. So by not eating said fish sticks, was I being intolerant and insulting the Rabbi of whatever liberal denomination of Judaism that tried to pass these off as kosher? No. I don’t think so. Despite the fact that I do not personally accept the authority of any but Orthodox Rabbis, I still recognize that Conservative and Reform etc. Rabbis are the leaders of their communities and accord them the respect due their positions. I do not insist that all Jewlicious writers follow my way of thinking and our Festivals welcome all, including non-Orthodox Rabbis who conduct services there. AND I am not a blind follower either! I stopped eating meat because Orthodox Rabbis certified Agriprocessors horrifically produced meat as kosher. I called the Rabbis who refused to grant women a religious divorce “ass clowns.” I think my position is nuanced, honest and inoffensive. Anyone who finds my position worthy of an uproar ought to contemplate their own level of tolerance.

  • Well, thanks for putting me in touch with my Orthodox Judaism. i wouldn’t have eaten those fish sticks, either. I’ve never been keen on shellfish, either (crabmeet excepted). And I don’t think there’s anything “offensive” about your religious beliefs– but let’s face it, when it comes to inclusiveness and a live-and-let-live approach, Orthodox Judaism and Catholicism can’t hold a candle to Reform Jews or Unitarians, among many others.

    You may be right about seeing more to engage in what the lefties contribute here. But as your own comment just now suggests, you don’t see an immediate alternative to the status quo (no P. partner to deal with, etc.), and the right-wingers share that as a default position. I suspect that if I were Israeli, I’d vote right-of-center, and I’d be quite concerned that the left has seized the intellectual and, increasingly, the political initiative on Israel/Palestine issues. That’s why lefties get more attention from Middle and others.

  • I like to think we’re pretty nuanced about political positions. For example, I’ve spent quite a bit of time attacking Walt & Mearsheimer and they are from the right. I consider them to be as dangerous as many of the lefties whose views I criticize. I have also supported and support the Gaza disengagement to the same degree that I supported attacking Gaza for their constant bombing of Israel. My recent post about leaving the West Bank advocates a unilateral withdrawal and I have posted that Olmert’s plan to internationalize the holy basin in Jerusalem makes sense as a solution. Those views are not mainstream in Israel at all and they would be considered leftist views, not rightist ones.

    As for attacks on Orthodox Jews, or support for non-Orthodox who are attacked by the Orthodox, I admit to being lax about this recently, but that’s probably due to a desire to avoid a war on the site. It’s not as if those nasty debates achieved anything other than to offend some people sufficiently that they stopped reading us altogether.

  • As a little aside, if the shrimp wasn’t in there intentionally (“Might contain traces of …”) and made up no more than 5% of the quantity, it might have been an Orthodox rabbi..
    The frum crowd doesn’t eat OU.

  • What? I sent an e-mail to that address already, Muffti. You didn’t get it?

    I sent it from my regular e-mail account, so it could be in your spam folder.

    I just sent you another one. One of them should get through.

Leave a Comment