A New Reality Television Show Draws on Stale Stereotypes about Orthodox Jews

July 14 2021

Today, an “unscripted” series premiers on Netflix with the unoriginal name My Unorthodox Life, focused on Julia Haart, a fashion designer who nine years ago broke with the ḥaredi community in which she had grown up, and now—in the breathless words of the New York Times— “heads a global talent empire.” Kylie Ora Lobell comments on the buzz the series has generated:

In the trailer, [Haart] says, “It takes time to deprogram yourself.” Media outlets are reporting that the show “takes a strong stance against fundamentalism” and they’re praising [Haart] for “escaping” the grasp of her ultra-Orthodox community in Monsey, New York.

This is a story we’ve heard over and over again. [Often] these stories involve individuals who have some type of mental illness, were abused by their families, had spouses who didn’t understand them, or the like. Somehow, though, the Orthodox lifestyle and/or community are to blame for all their troubles. And when they bring up shocking stories about their communities, nobody bothers to look into them to see if they are true. . . . The Orthodox perspective is almost never taken into account.

Of course, there are people who have legitimate grievances with their Orthodox community. . . . Still, I can’t help but notice what seems to be a distressing media obsession. . . . I could provide countless examples of how wonderful Orthodox Jews are, but when it comes to Netflix, the media, and the publishing houses, that’s not what sells.

When My Unorthodox Life comes out, I anticipate it’ll get a lot of praise. Reviewers will say the star of it is bold and brave, and they will continue to bash Orthodox Jews.

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Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Anti-Semitism, Orthodoxy, Television

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy