The Other Twitter Files
November newsletter (two weeks late)
Apologies for my tardiness. Things have been busy.
First, “The Twitter Files.” The recent exposé undertaken by Bari Weiss, Matt Taibbi, and Michael Shellenberger — with Elon Musk’s blessing and help from Nellie Bowles, Abigail Shrier, and others — prompted me to write a piece for Psychology Today about the extraordinary amount of graphic self-harm images and videos circulating on the platform:
When Twitter was busy interfering with “Libs of TikTok,” it was largely ignoring the increase in graphic images and videos of young people cutting themselves—sometimes so deeply their wounds required ER visits.
Second, I’ve been engaged to review the Anti-Defamation League’s educational materials. Three others were also asked for their reviews: diversity consultant Carol Fulp, Executive Director of Common Ground USA, Nealin Parker, and the founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Kenneth Marcus, who served as assistant secretary of education for civil rights under former President Donald Trump. There is no guarantee that the ADL will implement anyone’s suggestions, but it speaks to the seriousness with which they take their mission that they were willing to look outside the organization for perspectives they might not find within it — even people who have been critical of them, as I have been.
Third, last month I joined a number of writers to see Israel with Itay Milner, the Spokesperson and Consul for Media Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York; among them, Melissa Chen of the Spectator, Nancy Rommelmann of Paloma Media, Michael Moynihan of Vice News and The Fifth Column podcast, Jon Levine of the New York Post, and musician and podcaster Coleman Hughes, now a writer for Bari Weiss’s new platform, The Free Press.
With Chanukah around the corner, I’m remembering that a typical Chanukah gift from my childhood would be a tree planted in Israel in the recipient’s honor. While I never managed to find any of the trees planted in my name, there are more trees in Israel now than there were 50 years ago. (From what I understand, Israel is the only country in which this is the case.) Smaller than all but six states in the US, Israel has more museums per capita than any other country, recycles 90% of its waste water, and is a leader in both technology and entrepreneurship.
Children in Israel are 10 times less likely to be allergic to peanuts than in other countries. Exposure to peanuts from an early age appears to have the effect of creating a resistance to peanut allergies. This is a perfect metaphor for Israeli childhood and culture. Israeli parents don’t seem to have the tendency to protect their children from distress that has developed in English-speaking countries in the Western world. (For more on that topic, here’s an article Jon Haidt and I wrote in The Guardian.) As author and entrepreneur Inbal Arieli told me, Israeli culture builds chutzpah. Read her book, Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for more on how. (Look for information soon for my upcoming Zoom interview with Inbal, and how paid subscribers can participate.)
Finally, upon my return from Israel, Coleman Hughes was presented with the Omni-American Young Leaders Award for his role as a staunch champion of free speech, free thought, and open debate. And I had the honor of presenting the Albert Murray Award for Omni-American Excellence to renowned political theorist, public intellectual, and Harvard professor Danielle Allen at the second annual Omni-American Future Project awards ceremony. The Omni-American Future Project is a collaboration between the American Sephardi Federation, the Jazz Leadership Project and the Combat Antisemitism Movement. It brings together black and Jewish Americans to affirm American principles and combat both antisemitism and racism. As Combat Antisemitism Movement’s CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa put it: now, more than ever, it is vital that Black and Jewish Americans focus on what unites rather than divides us. (Click here for the first annual Omni American Future Project Awards ceremony featuring congressman Ritchie Torres.)
More to come…