One thing to remember about the back and forth over “Genie, You’re free!”


One of — if not the most — iconic reaction to Robin Williams’ tragic passing was the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Aladdin-inspired tribute to the comic legend. Surely, you’ve seen it:

Like any major news story, Williams’ death has spawned a veritable ecosystem of sideshows and distractions (an ecosystem to which I admittedly love to add).

One such offshoot revolves around the Academy’s tweet, which has come under some criticism for allegedly aggrandizing Williams’ decision to take his own life. According to one widely-shared piece in The Washington Post:

More than 270,000 people have shared the tweet, which means that, per the analytics site Topsy, as many as 69 million people have seen it.

The problem? It violates well-established public health standards for how we talk about suicide.

“If it doesn’t cross the line, it comes very, very close to it,” said Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Suicide should never be presented as an option. That’s a formula for potential contagion.”

I’ll readily admit Moutier might have a point. Suicide is not something that should be encouraged.

But here’s the thing: a lot of people might have shared the same tribute before the cause of Williams’ death became clear, of simply without knowing the circumstances surrounding his passing. Take, for instance, the very first time* “Genie, You’re free” appeared on Twitter Tuesday:

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An incomplete guide to not failing at anti-Semitism


The most obvious way to not fail at anti-Semitism is to not be an anti-Semite. Failing that, here’s one example (via The Algemeiner) of how not to fail at anti-Semitism:

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“A Prayer for Bibi” explores new frontier in Hebrew-English translation difficulties


This blog has thoroughly rehearsed the inability of Facebook (in partnership with Bing) to faithfully render Hebrew into English. I was skeptical the standard set by Bing’s engine could ever be topped. Until, that is, I read “A Prayer for Bibi“, published this morning by the Times of Israel:

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Facebook censorship of Israeli nudity lays bare (pun intended) unfortunate double standard

standing with idf men sample

Shortly after publishing my previous post, Draconian Facebook censorship may have saved Israelis from themselves, I made two important discoveries.

One, that the creators of “Standing with the IDF” (a misleading name, if I’ve ever heard one, given the various states of repose exhibited within) are optimistic their page will be restored soon (במהרה בימינו): Continue reading

Draconian Facebook censorship may have saved Israelis from themselves

Stand with IDF sample image

[Update: Part II can be found here.*]

Israel’s “Facebook generation” is at war in Gaza, or so we are told. And indeed, Israeli soldiers have landed in hot water in the past based on what they chose to upload to the social media site from their bases.

But this time around, it’s not just members of the IDF who are under scrutiny. That much became apparent after the infamous “Sderot cinema” controversy portrayed the residents of the embattled border town like the residents of Washington, D.C. at the Battle of Bull Run. This time, the entire country is fair game not just to Hamas rockets but to the forces of political correctness and the accompanying battle for international hearts and minds.

So I am happy to report Facebook might have just saved the entire country from some embarrassment.

Last week at work, I came across an article on The Times of Israel titled “Israeli women do Gaza strip for IDF”. The headline doesn’t leave much to the imagination, but I was interested enough to learn more that I saved the link for later (remember, I was at work and had no intention of actually investigating while there).

This evening, I attempted to revisit the page and was surprised to discover that while its text remains available, the source material is not:

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Jon Stewart still doesn’t understand why his take on Israel and Gaza earned so much criticism

jon stewart gaza

Jon Stewart walked into a minefield.

Last week, the Daily Show aired a brief segment on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and the show’s position drew an inordinate amount of friendly fire, including from this site.​ Stewart clearly wasn’t happy with the way his original segment was received.

So what did he learn from the experience? On Monday night, he let us know.

Stewart returned to the conflict, in a widely-disseminated segment titled We Need to Talk About Israel. Every time he tried to bring it up, Daily Show correspondents popped up from behind his desk and drowned him out with shouted slogans and epithets.

The takeaway was clear: it’s literally impossible to sit down and have a calm, rational discussion about politics in the Middle East. You simply can’t have a constructive conversation about what’s going on in Gaza. Any attempt to do so will surely end in quagmire.

Here’s the problem: Jon Stewart is wrong. And I know that thanks to Jon Stewart.

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