First Annual FreeDarko Child Scramble: La Question Seckbach

As the goy-tastic Recluse pointed out yesterday (BUY THE NEW TEE!!!!), "SWAG sums up the FreeDarko ethos better than any other four-letter word, with the possible exception of JEWS." Thus, it should come as no surprise that our headquarters has closely monitored the perplexing rise of one Elie Seckbach, whose off-putting interviews with NBA players have caused an internet sensation of late. The lesser-known print efforts are even more surreal, and only precipitated the cry for action. We decided to deal with this the only way we knew possible: invite Dan Steinberg and Eli Horowitz for an roundtable on the Seckbach Revolution and its implications for us other hoops-obsessed Jews.

Dr. Lawyer IndianChief: dan, how many elie videos have you watched?
Dan Steinberg: wow, not close to all of them. didn't know there were that many until this morning. maybe 4 or 5?
Dr. LIC: kobe and shaq treat this guy like a non-human
Eli Horowitz: i agree. particularly kobe, particluarly in that 200 pushup debacle.
Dr. LIC: like a pet
EH: it was lord of the flies out there.
EH: and this is why i was particularly curious to hear from you, steinz.
EH: like, how much outsideriness is inevitable?
EH: how ridiculous do you feel in there?
Bethlehem Shoals: is this a jewish question?
Dr. LIC: "the jewish question"
EH: they're all jewish questions

EH: Dan: when I watch your videos, read the Bog, it all feels smooth and natural.
EH: Whereas when I read Elie, I cringe.
DS: ok, i've been thinking about this more as "outsider" than "jewish," because i don't think being jewish makes me an outsider.
DS: actually, i don't know what _does_ make me an outsider, but i definitely am. but he seems to relish that a lot more than i do.
EH: Yes, I agree.
DS: i sort of want the players to be in on the joke. in some of his stuff they are, but in some they aren't. asking that guy to sing the haunukah songs....ugh.
DS: also, i think part of this is the wizards. not joking. i've only been in a few "road" locker rooms, but they aren't the same.
Dr. LIC: when brown recluse and i got credentials to the bulls/wiz game
Dr. LIC: it was dead serious in the bulls joint
Dr. LIC: all laughs in the wiz room
Dr. LIC: much more conducive to outsiders
DS: caron butler is amazing. amazingly underrated, too. gilbert overshadows him, but he's a huge part in making that locker room what it is.
DS: the guys on the wiz (at least the stars) are, above all, polite, which changes the whole dynamic
DS: the wizards i am in no way giving a false impression. they're the best.
EH: it seems like you're all enjoying each other. as opposed to the elie model.
DS: i agree about that being the problem with elie....it doesn't feel participatory, it feels like he's using the players.
DS: lemme also say this....sometimes you swing and miss with these things. maybe the problem is you can write around a promisingly silly question that falls a little flat, or make it seem like it worked, but video doesn't lie
BS: but he seems to like that
BS: that disaster aspect of it

BS: is elie bad for jews who like the nba
EH: either he's bad -- or he reveals the sad truth
DS: i'm just not sure exactly why he would be bad? someone explain?
Dr. LIC: i was thinking about this all day
BS: well, he makes players pay attention to "jews"
BS: but makes "jews" into something silly and fatuous
BS: like we're borat or something
Dr. LIC: right, i forgot we were a "minority" before those videos
EH: i found myself thinking: if i was in the locker room, would I be like that?
EH: but i think dan's right, that "outsider" is as relevant here as "jew"
DS: i wonder what players actually think. my honest guess is that they don't pay him much mind. like, if we asked most of his subjects, they wouldn't even remember him.
EH: because everyone else is equally ridiculous/disposable?
DS: players know beat writers. and tv people. then there's a floating mass of others.
Dr. LIC: this goes back to what i say about kobe/shaq treating him like a pet
BS: that kind of makes it worse
BS: if they did remember, it would be as a bad jewish joke

Dr. LIC: the thing i dont get, why is elie so constantly shocked when players know jews or know hebrew
Dr. LIC: their fucking agents, the owners, the coaches...lots of jews in that crowd
EH: well, i was shocked by that funderburke article
EH: I quote: "He easily could have held a more "Jewish oriented" profession as a stockbroker or an accountant, but chouse basketball instead."
Dr. LIC: the self-stereotyping this guy engages in really bothers me
Dr. LIC: the non-jewish stuff is great
Dr. LIC: it just bothers me incredibly when he asks jason kapono how he knows "mazel tov"
Dr. LIC: it would be like a puerto rican person being surprised that i knew who tito puente is
BS: right, like "don't you know what a weird exotic people we are?"
BS: he's constantly forcing an issue that doesnt need forcing
BS: the self-appponted king of the nba jews
Dr. LIC: then, it's terrible that these players' only exposure to jews are
Dr. LIC: upper management/agents...and elie
EH: what about kornheiser???
DS: never seen kornheiser in a locker room. wilbon is beyond a god in the locker room.
BS: kornheiser is an equally shticky jew
BS: but far more credible and likable
BS: like if only he would do pti with a yellow star on, elie would be negated
DS: tk would never ever ever ever be in that degraded outsider role that elie takes on. incidentally, you guys think A LOT more about your jewishness than i do. i feel white in nba locker rooms, not jewish

Dr. LIC: lest this get back to elie, which it certainly will...
Dr. LIC: his intentions are good
BS: for whom?
DS: re: borat, at the end of the day, my problem with it was it was funny but unfair, which sort of invalidated the humor. i feel the same thing about elie.
EH: but borat was maybe unfair to the subjects. elie is unfair to elie.
Dr. LIC: and to me
BS: i just don't know who benefits from elie
BS: other than funderburke
Dr. LIC: in elie's head
Dr. LIC: the jews are a marginalized/oppressed people
Dr. LIC: (in elie's head)
DS: well, is s.a. smith unfair to black journalists?
EH: hmm!
Dr. LIC: talk about a can of worms (re: SAS)
Dr. LIC: SAS is not a dork
Dr. LIC: elie is a dork
BS: i wish farmar were here
DS: i think it's unfair to hold elie responsible for jew=dork in the nba mind. trust me, those guys will encounter many more dorky jews besides elie. he's just the one on youtube
Dr. LIC: yeah, but the players won't KNOW the other dorks are jews
BS: but he makes it worse in a whole 'nother way by explicitly eqating the two

Dr. LIC: plus israel = legitimate persecution complex + small country's complex
Dr. LIC: intense nationalism
DS: but you'd think that would equate to self-confidence, not to the self-humiliation schtick
BS: that's why i'm suspicious
BS: i think he's secretly laughing at the players
Dr. LIC: he actually thinks he zings the players when he, like,
Dr. LIC: makes a mother joke to shaq
EH: oh, i don't think laughing at. i think he thinks "we're all in this together."
EH: "me and the guys."
DS: that's the key question i guess.
DS: not in terms of jewishness but in terms of the whole operation.
EH: like, steinz realizes he's an outsider, so he's able to navigate and thrive. elie seems entirely unaware, and so...
DS: here's why i might disagree.
DS: did you see this comment he posted on fanhouse?
DS: “For the record Marko Jaric is an awesome person - and no he's not anti anything - he was just kidding. Thanks again for the kind words. Elie”
DS: "he was just kidding" means he thinks they're all in it together, i think. that's what i would say in such a case.
DS: the ? is whether the players agree maybe?
EH: yeah, he does seem accepted. dan, the fact that they're answering his questions -- is that significant, or just part of the ritual?
DS: hmmm. i think it depends on the player. some guys are just real decent to anyone who comes up, some aren't. in most cases, i would venture, they don't even know who they're talking to
EH: ricky davis must be a saint. "well then, keep em torched!"
DS: but i don't sense recognition from most of the guys he's talking to
DS: like, it doesn't seem like they really know who he is. or is that just me being a jealous fellow blogger?
EH: at the very least, they seem to know he's different than the rest.

DS: i just don't know how much of elie's thing is an act, and how much is real. if that aol homepage really his? if so, his proud description of his relationship with players made me shiver
Dr. LIC: i actually wonder how much of his shtick is a language/idiom barrier
BS: he definitely plays that up
EH: the sadness in dorell wright's eyes crosses any language barrier.
BS: 11 fucking years
BS: you'd think he'd be a little less awakrd/out of place around players
DS: i think that's a deliberate put-on, all the awkwardness
DS: re: the whole insider/outsider thing, insiders have confidence. that's the key difference. or one of them.
DS: it probably doesn't have to be about race, but it's a factor. i think comfort and confidence go hand in hand
Dr. LIC: see, theres this thing i'm trying to reconcile. elie makes portrays jewish to be outsider to the extreme, when if anything (with regard to the nba), it should be insider
Dr. LIC: given history, etc
DS: but screw history, a jewish guy walking into a room of 13 black guys wouldn't expect to feel any more confidence/comfort than a black guy walking into a room of 13 jewish guys
BS: i would pay to see the latter
BS: the question is: would the average NBA player care that they were jewish
BS: or just see them as white
DS: i have no idea
BS: i think the whole point of elie is assuming that nba players would care about jew as opposed to white
Dr. LIC: my sense is that the average nba player doesnt have a stereotype about jews
BS: so wait, is elie being clowned by acting like they should care, or somehow clowning them by trying to get them to care?
BS: i kind of feel like it's the latter
DS: should care that he's jewish?
BS: yeah
BS: it's almost like he tries to pressure them into caring about it, and then they look silly if they fall for his "jewishness" as important
BS: when it's a total joke

DS: overall i think my entire response to elie is tinged by jealousy, for the record
DS: maybe the players DO like him. i just don't know.
DS: that to me is the issue (last thought).
DS: if the players are cool with it, and they don't feel like they're props, then it's fine by me.

POST-SCRIPT: When I re-read all of Elie’s FanHouse comment referenced in here, I suddenly got very sad, started weeping, and wondering if we're not doing a horrible disservice to a lovable little man who just wants to hang out with the athletes he admires. The real reason I hate Elie so much is that I fear he says something depressing about my own truly juvenile relationship with the NBA.


At 1/10/2007 2:05 PM, Anonymous mutoni said...

what's a jew?

At 1/10/2007 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very disappointed in this post. Who cares about religion re: The Association. It's all about playing ball. Regardless of your race or religion you have the ability to create your own style and niche on the court.
I know you were talking about not a player, but a reporter...even worse!

At 1/10/2007 2:17 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

I'm gonna threadjack this post... check out this article:

Did someone steal my thunder? An article about Isiah that doesn't feature hyperbole, gross lies, and mass propaganda? I feel validated. It's nice knowing there's a real sportswriter out there that isn't getting head from Larry Brown....

Although I still think the Raptors have a better core than the Knicks to build on....

At 1/10/2007 2:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

so wait, you read freedarko but don't see why race or religion could be a part of the discussion? and don't get that, indeed, the media is an element in the dynamic of the league?

At 1/10/2007 2:28 PM, Blogger whitefolks said...

i don't know if elie has had as deep an impact on the players whom he has interviewed and may very well get diminishing returns, subsequently. the nba is like any other place of business where news travels fast and with the social network + viral video, people will become aware of anything like this pretty quickly.

can't say that i think he is negatively showcasing himself from a jewish standpoint. his surprise seems genuine and nothing negative has been said about jews by the players and i can't say that any of elie's questions or remarks could really be construed as negative reflections of us.

more and more, it seems like he is playing man on the street in his own way and because this isn't a standard, media-driven phenomenon his methods and reasons may seem from very far out.

this read and discussion was nice, a few more posts and we can have minion! i do not volunteer to bring refresments for oneg shabbat.

At 1/10/2007 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do see how race or religion could be part of the discussion, that is why I read the post. I recognize your reasons for writing the column-your interest in Elie's effect on the image with the NBA of Jewish people.
All I am saying is I find this information irrelevant to the NBA itself. I am so thankful that the Association is one place in this world where in the workplace, religion never comes up. I just would never dive into the religious aspect of the NBA myself, thats all. It just brings in too many preconceived notions, biases, and anger towards others, that it is not worth it.
This guy Elie seems to be living his dream though. Good for him.

At 1/10/2007 2:39 PM, Blogger Rob I said...


What would Unsilent Majority say?

At 1/10/2007 3:10 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

AO--the NBA is the "one place in this world where in the workplace, religion never comes up"? really? i've never discussed religion with anyone i work with, at least not in the workplace. wouldn't you think, since NBA players (and the media that cover them) are incredibly public, it would be way MORE likely religion would come up? or virtually any topic?

and aren't topics that bring in "too many preconceived notions, biases, and anger towards others" those that we absolutely SHOULD be discussing? is it better to let people keep those notions and biases without challenging them? you want this anger to remain and not dissipate, if possible?

i just don't understand your concerns, generally or in regards to the post.

At 1/10/2007 3:15 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

when i mentioned to UM that i was getting ready to post this, his response was "oh my lord."


At 1/10/2007 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just rather read the fantastic basketball analysis this site offers than an interview about a reporter and his religion.

At 1/10/2007 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that was fascinating. Strangely enough, my dad is an Orthodox Jew and a huge basketball fan. However, my mom is a lapsed Catholic and he moved to Israel when they got divorced so I grew up unreligious. We haven't talked in like six years but I remember him being a huge Macabbi Tel Aviv fan.

I watched the videos before I read the discussion and they felt like a hipster laughing inwardly at people not catching his deadpan pop culture references, except it was a dorky Jewish guy laughing inwardly at NBA players not catching to his dorky Jewish schtick. The crazy editing, the video of Jordan Farmar's dorky dad, the opening of one clip with some Weird Al-ish take on an Eminem song...all that stuff felt like a snarky youtube in joke. If it's just straight up and there's no irony involved, then yeah, it's not really that funny and also kind of sad. But I don't know Elie or his motivations. Plus, covering the NBA is his job, right? It's not like he's just some crazy guy hanging out in locker rooms and giving NBA players weird impressions of Jews.

Interesting side note: Do you guys know the background of that picture of Hasidic Jews holding up the anti-Israel signs? I was at a anti-occupation protest a few years ago, those dudes showed up, and I got to talk to a couple for 5 minutes. They're actually against Israel because they believe that the Jewish state can't exist until the Messiah comes and all this biblical jazz, not because they love Arabs and want peace.

At 1/10/2007 3:33 PM, Blogger Rob I said...

I have a picture very similar to the one with Amare in Venice, except instead of being surrounded by two NBA'ers, I'm surrounded by gypsies.

At 1/10/2007 3:58 PM, Blogger Unsilent Majority said...

I have a picture very similar to the ones with the Jews drinking the blood of the Christian children!

Somewhere Tamir smiles

At 1/10/2007 4:04 PM, Blogger Unsilent Majority said...

There's so much I want to say about this but I'm still navigating my way through. First things first...

"like if only he would do pti with a yellow star on, elie would be negated"

oy vey

At 1/10/2007 4:13 PM, Blogger Unsilent Majority said...

Although I've only seen three of the videos (and have not yet seen his writing) I find Elie to be entertaining. Granted not everything he says is something I'd want to associate with as a Jew but that doesn't stop me from watching Jon "Stewart" every night.

At 1/10/2007 4:20 PM, Anonymous Aaron said...

Okay, I feel like I'm obligated to say something about this post, though I don't really have anything to say. But in the past, Shoals has commented if I don't reply to Judaism-related posts on FD.

The first few of those videos I watched and saw dorky fun in an absolutely harmless way that suggested the players were enjoying being asked questions that were actually fresh and different. If FD is about the League of Psychology, those videos definitely reveal a lot about the psychology of the players interviewed.

The Hannukah video, though? That one makes me a little nervous. Carrying around a menorah was SO FAR over the top. Like DLIC says, it's disgusting self-stereotyping. I'm not sure how much effect it has on the players' attitudes, but how can a self-respecting Jew portray himself like that?

Oh, and Re: Anon3:28's comments about the Anti-Israel Chasidim, you should know that those groups are absolutely reviled by the majority of Jews. As far as we're concerned, it's fine for them to not support Israel. Nobody's making them move there. But for them to actively support Jewish enemies is atrocious. Members of Neturei Karta, the group pictured, recently attended a conference of Holocaust deniers. Jews who don't want to support Israel? Okay. Jewish Holocaust deniers? Not okay.

At 1/10/2007 4:34 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

I see a real distinction between the Hanukah video (funny) and the Christmas presents video (not funny and so much more). The latter seemed to have much more to do with class than religion, and not in a particularly enlightened (tell me about your impoverished childhood, black man) or even informed way (he's implying that Luke Walton grew up poor?) Sometimes he seems to be as genuinely clueless as Sasha Cohen only pretends to be.

At 1/10/2007 4:41 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

Great comments by all. MaxwellDemon's point just made me remember that the Hanukah video is hilarious, which lends a little bit more credibility to the theory that maybe Seckbach is actually laughing at the players.

The key question: WHO IS EDITING THESE VIDEOS? they are well done.

At 1/10/2007 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides his incredible dorkiness, do you know what struck me most about Elie? His balls. Seriously, I've been in locker rooms before, I've done pre- and post-game interviews, after wins and after losses ... it's not always easy to approach athletes as they're getting up for or coming down from competition. I'm a shy white kid with no real religious affiliation, but I admired Elie's complete lack of shame/fear/hesitation when it came to asking NBA superstars random questions.

At 1/10/2007 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone please confirm for me that Kobe refers to Elie as 'Little Israel' at the beginning of his post-shot interview:


At 1/10/2007 5:39 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

indeed, he goes. and all it did was make me care more about kobe, jew.

i want there to be an aaron/unsilent head-to-head. on what i'm not quite sure.

At 1/10/2007 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, you can hear it clear in this one (beginning of push-up scene): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pltusgzGnXU

So, it's really 'Little Israel' who's the outsider. I think this is significant: ask the average American if they know any Jews, they'll say yes (even though many don't), ask if they know any Israelis: No. In the players' minds, Elie is reporting for Israeli TV - that's my sense and the above video really supports that. Shoals' Borat comparison is significant because both he and Elie are able to elicit something unique (and often shocking) from people because of their outsider status. I think our critical reading of Elie as equating Jew with Dork or worse is simply for those of us who are Jewish, elite, or both - and probably dorky too.

For the players, Elie is Israeli and most of the guys in the Lakers' corporate office are Jewish.

At 1/10/2007 5:49 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

andrew--"do you know what struck me most about Elie? His balls. Seriously, I've been in locker rooms before"


At 1/10/2007 5:56 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

odb, i'm not buying the whole "to the players, he's israeli, not jewish." he's beating them over the head not with falafel and tevas, but with biblical associations and dreidels. "you're going through a tough time, stay up" from kobe is the only team this has anything to do with a contemporary jewish/israeli distinction.

At 1/10/2007 6:32 PM, Anonymous megapickles said...

I step out for the afternoon and FD turns into a BBYO convention!

After watching a bunch of the vids in succession, I get the impression that he's a harmless schticky comedian. This isn't Larry David putting Shaq in the hospital. This is an awkward kid who emulates my grandfather's synagogue list-serv.

He doesn't even understand the origins of the Xmas gift reply: "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth." Instead, he was genuinely concerned for the baller's orthodontics.

While we're here, and the Tamir joke has already been made... I just wanted to briefly bring up the fact that Jon Scheyer (current Dukie.. yeh, I know.. only B-Recluse knows what I'm talking about here) was on an Illinois State Championship team that had a starting 5 that were all members of the tribe. Forget Hoosiers--- Jew-siers? Sorry, I had to.

At 1/10/2007 7:36 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

It’s certainly an interesting discussion, but I think something important is lost if we don't realize why these videos are popular all. The traditional sports media (especially that as personified by the worldwide leader and sports talk radio, but the blogosphere is not immune) alternates between the twin poles of deifying athletes and berating them. yet these are two sides of the same coin--in both cases the journalist has a boner for the athlete, only in the second case it is a hate boner. blind adulation is maybe less despicable than envy, but no less embarrassing.

seckbach's appeal is that he just gives way less of a fuck about the players. it's almost as if this is a job that he was assigned rather than one he chose, and is just trying to amuse himself and get through the day, like we all do at our shitty jobs.

and ultimately, i don't think his not giving a fuck about the players does them (the players) any harm. it removes the distance, and makes them appear as would any group of young men, normal, hanging out, fucking around. it's relaxed and equal, in a way that sports rarely is, and that's refreshing.

being a fan, most of the time i conceive of athletes as adult and professional, maybe like the bit players in a movie about an elite group of commandos, going about their business with stoicism born of natural efficiency and great responsibility. but in the videos it's impossible not to be struck by how young these guys are. they seem like the normal jackasses we all hang out with all the time. That’s cool.

wv: clahua - pubic lice, in Hawaiian

At 1/10/2007 7:37 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

On the Israeli tip--I learned from the announcers during Raptors-Wiz that Anthony Parker played for 5 years on Maccabi Tel Aviv and chose his current number (18) as an homage to his adopted peeps. Cholla!

At 1/10/2007 7:38 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

Or maybe shorter is better:

i think the videos are funny, but i don't think elie is that funny. i think the players are funny. except for kobe. i guess he just never turns it off.

At 1/10/2007 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I'm writing this comment, a Scrubs re-run is on in the background: intern beat-boxing (not bad) and someone asks: "where'd you learn to do that?"

Shoals: You're right, there's no active distinction, but my point is that Elie is much more a reporter for Israeli TV than he is one of the Jewish kids Kobie went to private school with (my cousin actually did). I think Anon 3:28's point that the players don't really get it and that Elie may be his own biggest fan are part of this perspective.

At 1/10/2007 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and did anyone notice Luke Jackson was signed to a 10-day by the Clips:


Can't remember who originally posted the What Happened To Luke Jackson?

At 1/11/2007 3:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey man, anyone outside the starting 12 is by definition peanut gallery. you cant lose sleep over it...

cro magz, skinhead, of the grave

and yo is he a jew or israeli? because there's a difference, esp. wrt media literacy lol

At 1/11/2007 5:53 AM, Anonymous anon 3:28 said...

Elie is definitely an Israeli reporter for some kind of Israeli sports station I think. There are also videos of him covering Maria Sharapova (complete with dorky, awkward questions), getting interviewed on Israeli TV, getting quotes from some Israeli politician (the pm maybe, or mayor of jerusalem) on how much he likes shaq, asking Miss Universe to say something to her Israeli fans (she chatters along radiantly in Spanish), and so on. The more I think about it, it really doesn't seem like Elie is enveloped in starstruck adulation. He's a kind of weird guy doing his job and getting a kick out having a good time while he does it. I think he's probably hip to the players' confusion and it's part of the gag. I don't know, that's just me...actually it makes the whole thing funnier. For example, he's not actually trying to zing Shaq with a yo mama joke, but when you watch on video it's hilarious because Shaq is taking it seriously. Like I said before, I don't know the dude...

Oh BTW, I saw Jon Scheyer play HS ball my sister went to his school's rival school. Duke is Duke but he's tearing it up right now as a frosh. If you want a Great Jewish Hope that's your dude.

And Anthony Parker was like an icon in Israel, my dad loved that guy. He won a couple of Euroleague MVPs.

At 1/11/2007 7:03 AM, Anonymous torgo said...

BBYO? I was more of a USY kid. CRUSY represent...
White People Don't Know, I'd agree with you on the players being the best part of the video. I just don't really like this guy, possible for what ODB said, how he comes off as his own biggest fan. It's always nice to get a view of the players we read about just relaxing and having fun, but Elie just rubs me the wrong way.

I can't think of another place on the internet to read interesting writing on basketball, then have discussions on Jewish identity. Damn, this shit is good.

At 1/11/2007 9:15 AM, Blogger Unsilent Majority said...

Will Bynum is the new king of Israeli basketball and I couldn't be happier about that.

At 1/11/2007 9:27 AM, Anonymous Freddie said...


I thought about this article while reading this post... you might have to watch an ad to read it.

I sometimes think that Freedarko is guilty of conflating Jewish and black identity in the way that Dreisinger talks about here. But that may be unfair.

At 1/11/2007 10:37 AM, Anonymous Aaron said...

Speaking as someone who knows a lot of Israelis and a lot of Jews, I think Shoals is sometimes wrong when he tries to draw a distinction between the two groups. I've said this before, I'll probably say it again.

Obviously, a distinction must be made. But Israeli Jews are Jews, they're part of Jewish culture, and many of them even have a connection to American Jewish culture. The difference is that their Judaism is an ingrained thing in a different way than is possible in America. They grow up in a world where everything around them is Jewish. Their Jewish identity is a fact, not a decision.

The thing that strikes me about Elie is that, Israeli or not, he slots right into an American Jewish cultural tradition. He feels like an LA Jew much more than a Tel Aviv Jew. Or at least, it seems that way to me.

At 1/11/2007 12:28 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

for the record, i think i was the person in the chat who kept drawing the israeli/jew distinction. and i was doing so as a means of defending elie...as if to say: i dont agree with how "jewish" this guy is acting, but maybe that's just because i don't understand. maybe if i was from israel, i would have more reason to display/promote jewishness...maybe i would have more pride, feel something to prove, etc.

At 1/11/2007 12:39 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

aaron--american jews become israelis over time. it's a form of assimilation.

i think there's a major difference between appealing to the religion of judaism and israel, a place that has its own culture well apart from the religion. and i can safely say that it's distinct from jewish-american culture; most of the people i like and trust in this world are american jews, and yet i can rarely stand israelis.

the question is whether elie is selling them an otherness based on being israeli, but calling it "jewishness." that to me is a problem, since israel does not have a monopoly on representations of jews.

caveat: i don't really associate with the west coast, so for all i know all the jews out there are more like israelis than in the east. this is where someone makes a semi-offensive joke about the weather.

At 1/11/2007 12:41 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

don't even make me get into my theory of diaspora-dependence. or, as dr. lic referred to it in the chat, "israel ruined everything."

At 1/11/2007 3:33 PM, Blogger T. said...

anon@3:28 - If you want a Great Jewish Hope that's your dude.

Last year FreeDarko's GJH was Farmar - I'd say he's doing not bad in his first year. Certainly a lot more potential than Danny Schayes.

At 1/11/2007 4:06 PM, Blogger Rocco Chappelle said...

Am I the only person that finds it mildly ironic that 4 jewish men recently spent a quality amount of time deliberating and abstracting about the esoteric subject of the comedic value, and cultural impact of "otherness vs. jewishness vs. israeli-ness". Then have the audacity to earnestly evaluate their subject's use of stereotypical attributes in his routine.

That's a riddle wrapped in an enigma slathered on a gefilte fish loaf.

At 1/11/2007 5:56 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

with leather with the latest elie video and some kind words for this post. this installment of seckbach makes me doubly sure about everything i said above. especially when he makes a mike jones reference.

At 1/11/2007 6:24 PM, Anonymous MaxwellDemon said...

The Economist has a timely piece about Israel and the diaspora. I actually think it sucks, but it is way timely re: this thread.


At 1/11/2007 9:13 PM, Anonymous megapickles said...

For those interested in a 45 minute interview of Sacha Baron Cohen (not in character) on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, peep an mp3 rip right here:


My favorite parts of the interview in no particular order:
- His description of being yelled at by 60,000 homophobic Crimson Tide fans.
- His description of his Bar Mitzvah
- His justification of Borat from the perspective of Jewish actor, and Terry Gross' challenge to his reasoning with the example of Bruno.

Basically, it's an excellent haftorah portion which continues with the themes of Insider vs. Outsider status of Jewish media.

At 1/12/2007 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My impression is that the NBA players are reacting to him as different because he PROJECTS himself as an outsider with comments like, "How do you know 'mazel tov'?" -- as if there were no WAY he, an israeli (or a jew, depending on how you see it) -- could possibly be an accepted part of the larger jewish community.

Growing up jewish, I have seen this forced sense of separateness my whole life. It leads a lot of jewish people to be sensitive to criticism of israel--they are quick to see 'anti-semitism' where there is only reasoned opposition. Of course, when you superimpose the idea of 'the rest of the world can't possibly understand what it is to be jewish' onto reasoned opposition, you tend to see ignorant dismissal.

At 1/12/2007 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand your fancy words or sociopolitical theories, but that guy Elie is a comedian masking as a sports reporter, and I think the players recognize that.

At 1/12/2007 1:51 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

anon 1:44: i'm not sure if this post was guilty of some of what you're describing, but even if it was i agree with you. with elie, it's especially tricky, since it may or may not be deliberate and satirical (see esp. the new video where he talks to tim thomas like a normal person).

anon 1:47: he's also a comedian "masking" in a way that affects several "sociopolitcal theories" relevant to my life, so sorry if i'm a little senesitive about the subject

At 1/12/2007 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the people who think he's just having fun, do you want him to ask the same repetitive questions?

As per the men vs. boy duality, has anyone considered that, as an Israeli, Elie had to spend time in the army and, based on whatever definition of hetereonormativity you go for, he might be just as much a man as the players?


At 1/12/2007 5:49 PM, Anonymous dave said...

the question, to me, is who is the intended audience? jews who want to get a kick out of players' reactions to questions about judaism? or is it supposed to have a "hanukkah song" type of audience, where it's "hey, here's a song for us jews" that's catchy enough for non-jews to enjoy too?

maybe if there was a video of elie dunking on yao, it would counteract any possible stereotypes that are drawn from what people are seeing.

At 1/13/2007 2:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a basketball fan I think he kicks ass he's like Howard Stern. You never see these interviews anywhere. They are cool.

At 1/13/2007 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol you guys need a life a wife or both, this is from si.com:
"Who is Elie Seckbach? Right now, he's about the most entertaining NBA reporter out there."

At 1/13/2007 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jew (seckbach) + Comedy = funny as hell

At 1/26/2007 4:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

rodney buford is playing in israel

At 1/26/2007 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. Buford played in Israel, he got cut. Will Bynum who was with Golden State in now in Tel Aviv. For more Seckbach videos you can go to youtube.

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