Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Baruch Marzel in a documentary and was Bruce Lee Jewish?

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Believe You Can Become an Action-Oriented Person

 If you presently find it difficult to believe that you can become an action-oriented person, you will benefit greatly from a teacher, mentor, friend, or coach who believes in you and your abilities. Having someone you respect believe in you is inspiring and motivating. You will gain a stronger and deeper belief in yourself.

Love Yehuda Lave

The film maker made this film about Baruch Marzel during graduate school. This is is his comments. While in the process of getting a doctorate in anthropology, I binge-watched the Errol Morris series First Person, a show that ran on Showtime from 2000-01. Each episode of the series focuses on an individual with an interesting life story like Murray Richman, a lawyer to the mob, or Joan Dougherty, a woman who cleans up crime scenes. I really liked this form, just 30 or 60 minutes in the mind of another person, a chance to think about the world through another person's views. I decided I wanted to try it myself. And I knew a perfect subject.

Baruch Marzel is one of the most prominent members of the Jewish community in Hebron, the only Jewish community in the West Bank that sits inside a predominantly Palestinian city. He served as a parliamentary aide for Rabbi Meir Kahane, one of the godfathers of the Israeli hard right. After Kahane was assassinated in New York City in 1990, Marzel became one of the leaders of Kach, Kahane's political party, which he led for almost five years until the time of the Baruch Goldstein massacre, at which point the group was banned by the Israeli government. A few years later, the U.S. State Department designated Kach as a terrorist organization.

These days, Marzel can best be described as community organizer. He helps run community events and the Jewish guest house in Hebron. He also organizes protests related to political and cultural issues, as can be seen in this video of him protesting Jerusalem's gay pride march by walking around with a 

While the American and Israeli governments consider Marzel to be a violent threat, he was always something else to me: a distant cousin, with a shared great grandparent. I met him for the first time in 1994 when my family visited Hebron, and I spent a Shabbat with him and his family in a neighboring trailer that belonged to a rabbi who had been stabbed to death there months earlier. There were a bunch of weekend visitors staying there with me, one of whom asked the group on Shabbat afternoon if anyone wanted to pepper-spray some Arabs.

Marzel interested me because he represented a form of muscular Judaism that celebrates Jewish power. In the version of Jewish history I got as a kid, Jews were permitted to be rebellious and violent until in the second century when the Romans squashed us, after which we enjoyed 18 centuries of having our behinds kicked. Against that backdrop, Marzel's political views and his comfort with violence seemed fascinating to me. I also felt that Marzel's story was interesting on a broader level, not just for what it represented vis-a-vis Judaism but for what it could say about political radicalism.

On an objective level, Baruch Marzel is an extremist, someone whose views are to the far side of the political spectrum. The title of the film is in fact based on a Kahane quote. I see this film as a meditation on fundamentalism, 22 minutes inside the mind of a man who sees black and white where most people see at least a touch of gray.

Marzel didn't know I had come to Israel just to make a film about him, and when I told him about the idea, he was deeply skeptical. Unlike most documentary subjects I have filmed, he seemed genuinely uninterested in the project and didn't feel flattered to have a camera around him. He reluctantly agreed, and all he wanted was for me to be unobtrusive and to not be a pest.

To say the film's aesthetics and content owe a great deal to Errol Morris would be an understatement. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I essentially tried to make, with some modifications, my own episode of First Person about Baruch.

Perhaps the most celebrated part of Morris' aesthetic is the way his subjects make direct eye contact with the viewer, a choice that differs from most network television and documentaries in which the subject looks off to the side, across the screen, toward the interviewer. I've never liked that convention, prefering instead the intimacy of Morris' approach, which the filmmaker achieves through what he calls the Interrotron. Essentially, he and the subject are looking at each other through teleprompters placed over the camera, so that the subject is looking both directly at Morris but also at the viewer. Before leaving for the West Bank, I found someone to build me a version of Morris' setup small enough I could carry it to Israel. During the actual interview, we are in the same room, but separated by a screen. We aren't physically making direct eye contact.

I wasn't interested in trying to portray a larger truth about the situation in Hebron or the Arab/Israeli conflict. I wasn't trying to make a polemic that forced you to take a particular view of Marzel. I was interested in Baruch's personal, very subjective truth. I wanted the viewer to have a chance to experience the world from his point of view, to see how a zealot lives and breathes in the world.

The first time I publicly screened a cut of The Radical Jew was at an academic conference, where it showed with another movie by a Belgian filmmaker who was Skyping into the proceedings from Europe. During the following Q&A, the other filmmaker, talking from a large screen looming over me, lambasted me for reproducing Marzel's highly problematic and racist ideology. I've never entirely understood that attack, which I've heard since and which appears to be premised on the idea that "I can see that the person in this film is a dangerous character, but I'm not sure others can." Why should anyone assume that others don't see it the same way?

The best compliment I received on the film came from a Yemeni friend. He watched it and told me, "It sounds exactly like someone from al-Qaida." I took that to mean I have captured a snapshot of militancy, of how one approaches life from an uncompromising position, and that's all I tried to achieve. To me, the key line in the film is when Marzel says, "99 percent truth is 100 percent lie." He lives by that dictum.

How should you, the viewer, feel about that? Well, that's up to you to decide:

The Radical Jew (short film about Baruch Marzel)

Published on Jun 2, 2018

Short film about Baruch Marzel. Winner of Best Short Documentary at the Charlotte Film Festival and the Tallgrass Film Festival

Director/Producer: Noam Osband


Matthew Polly's Bruce Lee: A Life will be released next week by Simon & Schuster. Polly's meticulously reported and beautifully written biography of the martial-arts master contains many deep pleasures and a few big surprises, none more thrilling than this: Bruce Lee was Jewish.

Well, sort of.

While you wait for your copy of the book to arrive and shed light on Lee's ancestry—he himself had no clue about his Jewish heritage—here, in an exclusive first look for Tablet, is a video unlocking the mystery. Enter the Jewish Dragon:


Wait, Bruce Lee was Part Jewish?

Published on Jun 1, 2018

For decades everyone, including Bruce Lee, believed his European ancestry was German Catholic. "Bruce Lee: A Life" by Matthew Polly reveals the martial arts megastar was actually descended from a Jewish butcher in Rotterdam Holland.

BimBam was thrilled to work with Matthew Polly on this short and we hope you love it.

More about Bruce Lee: A Life at [http://www.mattpolly.com]

Animation by Fernando Rangel, Narration by Lauren Flans, Music by Ben Bromfield. Directed and Produced by Jeremy Shuback and Sarah Lefton at BimBam for Matthew Polly's Bruce Lee: A Life.

SUBSCRIBE to BimBam [http://www.youtube.com/bimbam]

On the seventeenth day of Tammuz, the Tablets [of the Ten Commandments] were broken [by Moses] (Taanis 26b)

On this day the Jews worshiped the Golden Calf and on this day, therefore, Moses broke the Tablets of the Law. Jews initiate a three-week period of mourning which ends on the Ninth of Av, the day on which spies sent by Moses to scout Canaan returned with a report so pessimistic that the Israelites wept all night. (Both days also become days of mourning for other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, e.g. both Sanctuaries were destroyed on the Ninth of Av.)

The two events - the worship of the Golden Calf and the despair of the Israelites - are closely related. The Torah relates that the Israelites despaired of entering the Promised Land because they lacked faith that God would enable them to conquer it. Their worship of the Golden Calf and their despair of entering the Promised Land both came from a lack of faith in God.

Some people would be horrified to think of themselves as idolaters, yet their behavior may manifest a lack of faith and trust in God. For example, Torah law requires that a certain percentage of one's income be given as tzedakah. Reluctance to do so shows a lack of faith in the Divine promise that those who give tzedakah will be rewarded manyfold. Failure to refrain from conducting one's business on the Sabbath displays a lack of trust in God, Who decreed that the Sabbath be a day of rest and has promised that those who observe it will gain much more by obeying him than they could through human effort.

The mindset of those who worshiped the Golden Calf and thereby repudiated the true God led directly to the disastrous reaction to the libel of the spies, which caused the loss of an entire generation in the desert and delayed the acquisition of the Promised Land for forty years.

Thanking God requires more than lip service; it must be made manifest in our daily lives.

Today I shall ...
strengthen my faith and trust in God, and not allow any doubt in Him to affect my actions.

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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