Religion Magazine

UTJ's Low-hanging Fruit with a Lousy Message

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
I have found that UTJ does a really great job, in recent years, of publishing videos for their election campaigns. They make videos that are clear, have a good message for their voters, create or define an identity, and pass the message their voters want to hear, or the message that makes their voters feel strongly connected to the party. In recent years I have thought that they might even put out the best, most on point, campaign videos of all the parties - except maybe for Bibi.
That being said, last night they put out a video that I really did not like, and later as it went viral it drew a lot of public criticism (which might even make it a good video in the sense that people are talking about it).
The video is regarding the Supreme Court decision to recognize private conversions for acceptance to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.
Here it is:

The video/message came under some heavy criticism today. People are calling it anti-Semitic, criticizing UTJ for comparing Reform Jews to dogs, hateful, etc.
The most interesting or unique criticism that I saw was from Yair Lapid. Lapid said, "My father told me when there was once a large sign hanging from the Parliament building in Budapest that read "No entry to Jews and dogs" anti-Semites always compare Jews to dogs."
While I do not like this video, I do not consider it anti-Semitic. UTJ is not comparing Reform Jews to dogs. They are criticizing the Reform for doing stupid things in the name of Judaism, such as bark mitzvahs, that make them unreliable to defend the integrity of Judaism, or maybe even worse - corrupting Judaism.
I do not like the video because it is an old and outdated, and irrelevant, message. 
The bark mitzvah thing was a rare event that made a splash when it happened and became cute several years ago. It was more of a folksy familial thing performed by pet owners who loved their dogs and wanted some sort of family celebration. This was not a movement, and it never really took off, even if you can find 6 or 10 videos on Youtube of such events, and it was never a mainstream Reform event sanctioned by the Reform movement as a new tradition in Judaism.
So, they are mocking or scoffing at something cute and stupid a few families did to celebrate their dogs. If someone would mock some of the customs performed by Haredi families they would be deemed anti-Semitic. People can choose to do what they want if they are not hurting anybody. As I said, this was not a Reform event, it was a family event of someone associated with the Reform movement. They are attacking the institution for what a few people did. Not only is that an irrelevant attack on the Reform, but it is the type of attack the Haredim reject when the Haredi community is attacked for what small numbers of Haredi people do.
Along with that, this has become a focal point of UTJ, or parts of it, for a long time. MK Eichler has scoffed at the Reform several times from the Knesset podium, referencing the bark mitzva event.
So it is an old message, an outdated message, an irrelevant message, and a mistargeted and unfair message.
That being said, this recent Supreme Court decision will surely play heavily in the UTJ, and also Shas, campaigns in the coming weeks. It fell into their laps with perfect timing. This is like low-hanging fruit for them. 
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