My Word: Who wins the ‘Chutzpah Prize’?

A list of candidates who have taken cheek to a new high (or low)

Some thousand people hold banners and torches as they gather in the Maria Square in Stockholm on November 9, 2000, to protest against racism on the anniversary of the Kristallnacht (photo credit: BERTIL ERICSON / SCANPIX SWEDEN / AFP)
Some thousand people hold banners and torches as they gather in the Maria Square in Stockholm on November 9, 2000, to protest against racism on the anniversary of the Kristallnacht
I’ve been contemplating announcing occasional “Outstanding Chutzpah Awards.” This week, I had second thoughts. I was so spoiled for choice, that instead of trying to select one particular candidate for a prize, I’m opting to publish a list, in no particular order. Readers can decide for themselves which case best fits the classic definition of chutzpah as described by Leo Rosten: “That quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”
The first incident that came to mind was the Israeli-Arab woman, a university student from Nazareth, who was shot in the leg by police at the Afula Central Bus Station last month when she refused to throw down the knife she was holding in a threatening manner.
In a television news interview last week, she complained that the border policemen should not have shot her, but should have “come up from behind and disarmed me.”
She also said she hadn’t intended attacking anyone with the knife, although earlier reports indicated that she had originally planned to commit suicide and had expected soldiers to kill her as she stabbed Jewish victims.
She is not the only woman who apparently considered suicide through “martyrdom” in the recent wave of terrorism. It can only be a matter of time before someone sues Israel for not killing them, thus frustrating their plans for fleeting fame (or infamy) and for an afterlife in the company of celestial virgins (or dwarves in the case of the female “martyrs,” who might be considered the victims of gender discrimination in both this world and the next).
Another candidate for the Chutzpah Prize is throwing himself at the mercy of the International Criminal Court, no less. Okay, he’s not so much throwing himself as being thrown there. The Palestinian Authority said it would take the case of the 13-year-old to the ICC in The Hague, charging Israel with child abuse.
This is the teen who PA head Mahmoud Abbas first announced had been “executed,” leading Israel to release footage of him being treated in an Israeli hospital. He was hit by a car as he ran from the scene after stabbing and seriously wounding a Jewish boy riding his bicycle in Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood.
His knife-wielding, slightly older cousin was shot and killed in the incident.
This week, the teenager from Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood was seen alive (but not kicking) in footage from the police investigation.
It was not comfortable viewing. He could be seen in tears as the police investigator shouted questions at him. I’m assuming someone from his legal defense team or family leaked the footage in an attempt to embarrass Israel.
Israel should not be ashamed of arresting him, nursing him back to health, and questioning him to see whether this was a “lone wolf” (or wolf cub) attack, or if an adult in his family or community had urged him and his cousin to carry out the assault.
The Palestinian Authority should be embarrassed: for continuing the high level of incitement in the media it controls; for insisting that Israel is mowing down innocent people and then planting knives near them and claiming they were terrorists; for exploiting the teenage terrorist (a form of child abuse in its own right); and for considering wasting the ICC’s time on such a case (“They made him cry!”) while all around the Middle East Muslims are massacring other Muslims (and any Christians and other minorities they can find).
This week, Arab cousins aged 12 and 13 stabbed and lightly wounded a security guard on the Jerusalem Light Rail in yet another attack in what has been dubbed “the knife intifada.”
Incidentally, until recently I thought of awarding the Chutzpah Prize to the Palestinians who insist on calling Hadassah-University Medical Center “Isawiya Hospital,” after the Arab neighborhood that borders the facility on Mount Scopus.
It’s one of those gradual historical revisions that change the narrative.
The Hadassah Medical Organization, founded by Henrietta Szold, was established on strong Zionist values in 1918. If it wasn’t for those nice Jewish ladies of the Hadassah Women’s Organization of America, the hospital wouldn’t exist. The cornerstone on Mount Scopus was laid in 1934, so, no, this isn’t about the efforts of the residents of Isawiya.
If anything, they’re the type of people more likely to have celebrated the 1948 ambush on a convoy of Hadassah and Hebrew University doctors, nurses and other personnel in which almost 80 people were massacred.
The founding of Hadassah Hospital (and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem whose cornerstone was laid in 1918) shows that Zionism and Israel are not about the Holocaust.
Which brings me to some major contenders for a chutzpah award.
Perhaps my favorite (in this sense) is MK Haneen Zoabi. She has to be good for something. It’s not for a laugh.
Zoabi compared Israelis to Nazis at a rally in Amsterdam on November 8 marking Kristallnacht, telling an event organized by the Platform Stop Racism and Exclusion group: “Kristallnacht didn’t suddenly fall from the sky, come out of nowhere, it was the result of a development over time. We can see a similar development happening in Israel over the last several years.”
Maybe the award should go to the far-left group that invited her, knowing what she would say. You have to be perverse to host an Arab-Israeli parliamentarian who has frequently identified with terrorists to an event commemorating a devastating pogrom that was one of the most obvious early stages of the Holocaust.
Maybe the Chutzpah Prize should go instead to the organizers of the Kristallnacht memorial event in the Swedish city of Umea. True, they did not invite Zoabi, but according to some reports they also did not invite Jews. A judenrein Kristallnacht commemoration surely merits consideration for a Chutzpah Prize.
The organizers reportedly didn’t invite the local Jewish community because they thought they would feel “unsafe” at the event. There are conflicting stories over who was and wasn’t invited but, as The Jerusalem Post’s Sam Sokol noted, organizers wrote on the event’s Facebook page that the “rally should be seen as a defense of Umea as a city of openness toward people with different culture, religion and sexual orientation. As well as support for those forced to flee from war and hopes for a future in Umea.”
The Post’s Benjamin Weinthal also wrote about a serious contender for the Chutzpah Prize. A Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions lecture against Israel was delivered – whether by chance or not just ahead of the Kristallnacht memorial date – in a Munich municipal hall.
So Munich taxpayers were in effect helping support a BDS event with or without their knowledge and consent just as the Israeli taxpayer is funding Zoabi’s salary, travel and perks.
(Incidentally, the automatic hike in MKs’ salaries, despite the recommendation of a committee against it, also counts as chutzpah, but it happens so regularly that it can be nominated for a future prize.) The European Union’s position as a potential Chutzpah Prize winner just got stronger. The EU’s executive on November 11 approved guidelines for labeling products from Jewish-owned companies over the pre-1967 lines – including some Jerusalem neighborhoods, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights.
Since the decision was taken so close to the Kristallnacht memorial events (those with and without Jews; with and without anti-Zionist Arab MKs), it was natural that many Israelis suggested that the Europeans simply stick a yellow “Jude” sign on the products and dispense with the pretense of niceties.
EU protestations that it was merely a “technicality” sounded hollow.
They might just as well have said: “We were only following orders.”
As I’ve noted before, it’s hard to know whether the EU (and the UN) wants Israel to hand the Golan Heights over to Bashar Assad, Islamic State or the al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra currently on the border.
None of them would appreciate the fine wines Israelis produce there.
None of them would value the lives of the Jews and Druse who live there, either.
It’s hard to see how this move can bolster hopes either for peace or for economic progress. I suppose we should just be thankful they don’t want to stamp the bottoms of Jewish babies born at Hadassah’s Mount Scopus medical center “Made in a disputed territory.” Babies born in “Isawiya Hospital” would be exempt, of course.
All Israelis are familiar with the phrase Color Red, used to warn of incoming rockets from Gaza (that continue to be sporadically fired on the South).
They are less aware of the Code Pink group, although some members this week went a long way toward trying to remedy that – and grabbing the Chutzpah Prize.
Two American women, Ariel Gold from New York and Ariel Vegosen of California, both of whom are reportedly Jewish Code Pink members, boasted that they displayed a banner proclaiming “Boycott Israel” at the Western Wall this week.
It’s colorful and absurd and takes chutzpah to a new level.
The Western Wall has witnessed a lot. It will still be standing long after Code Pink is a curious footnote in the history books (if it merits a mention at all). It’s going to take some time, however, to figure out how the two managed to come so close to the holy site while ostensibly boycotting everything Israeli.
I think the Chutzpah Prize might need subcategories for riddles and the ridiculous.