Photo Credit:
Anti-Trump riots

{Originally posted to the Elder of Ziyon website}

Moral panic. It’s a term that was coined by Stanley Cohen in 1987 in his seminal work, Folk Devils and Moral Panics, and it perfectly describes the great uproar over Trump’s immigration ban (not to mention his election). A moral panic, according to Cohen, is a random or intermittent event generating widespread concern that societal norms may be in peril. The moral panic is characterized by, “a condition, episode, person or group of persons [who] become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.”


Now a moral panic doesn’t just up and set itself on fire. It needs the media to light the match. The mass media, as Cohen explains, seizes on a potential episode of moral panic and styles things so as to exaggerate or amplify the facts. Soon enough, the event becomes a national issue (or as in the case of the immigration ban, international).

Cohen’s theory goes that had the media stayed uninvolved, the issue at the center of the moral panic would have, of a certain, have remained a piddling local story, relevant only to those directly affected. The media’s involvement is the sole catalyst for any moral panic, the only reason any issue (an immigration ban, Trump’s election) can end up causing widespread fear and fascination.

So what you have with a moral panic is an event sensationalized by the media. The mass media then follows things up by putting out a call for action, a demand for some sort of punitive action, a response. This, Cohen calls, “control culture.”

It is moral panic that drove the Women’s March on Washington as a response to Trump’s election. It is moral panic that motivated the protests at airports, and had synagogues issuing heartfelt statements of umbrage over the immigration ban. And it is the mass media that inflamed the masses and fomented these mass responses. It is the media controlling the culture.

It is upsetting to know that people are so easily maneuvered and exploited into making a hullabaloo over something simply because the media desires it so. To think that people allow themselves to serve as puppets, letting their strings be pulled this way and that in obeisance to someone else’s agenda so far away out of sight that the common man doesn’t even know it exists! But that is the way of all effective moral panics.

And of course, any moral panic worth its salt has a whole bunch of Jews clamoring for their outrage over the issue to be seen and heard. Like a fish, this Jewish response stinks from the head down, with rabbis culling comparisons to Jewish history as reason enough to organize and demonstrate. “We were refugees, too!” they cry, dignity and righteousness in their shrill collective voices.

Just like Cohen says, had the media not run with this, sensationalized it and demanded action, you would not now have rabbis up in arms and marching with signs. Without the media, the immigration ban would have been but a momentary blip on the screen, unnoticed, and unseen.

You know how I know this?

I know this because in 2005, 11,000 Jews were expelled from their homes in the Jewish State and there were no American rabbis protesting (save for the Modern Orthodox), no Conservative or Reform Jews holding signs or expressing indignation. These 11,000 of their Jewish brethren who were forcibly dragged out of their homes consisted of 8,000 Jewish settlers in Gaza and another 3,000 from Northern Samaria. They were expelled from their beautiful homes after a national referendum in the democratic State of Israel in which 65% of the Israeli people voted against the plan.

By Israel Defense Forces (The Evacuation of Neve Dekalim)

The effects of this expulsion reverberate until today. There remains a few hundred people who UNTIL NOW have no permanent housing solution. In the wake of the expulsion, families fell apart at the seams, with divorce rampant among those expelled. Heads of households had heart attacks and died, children lost their faith in God. It’s documented.

The Evacuation of Bedolach


Worst of all, rather than bring peace, the Expulsion, A/K/A “Disengagement” brought tens of thousands of missiles raining down on Israel from the very territory it ceded, from the place where those who were expelled had built beautiful homes and  businesses and schools and synagogues. The Arabs, instead of building homes and schools in the “gift” we gave them, built a terrorist enclave using what we gave them to target and kill us.

The Evacuation of Shirat Hayam

But the Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times, don’t see the expulsion and subsequent homelessness, loss of income, and unemployment of 11,000 Jews in the same light as 90,000 people who have had their plans postponed for 120 days. And they don’t care about the tens of thousands of missiles shot at us from the territory we gave them, from which we uprooted 11,000 Jewish people against their will, only 60 years after we were uprooted from Europe in the West, and Arab countries in the East.

The Expulsion isn’t on the media’s list of moral panic material.

Because Jews.

And so, no rabbis (other than the settler-loving Modern Orthodox) marched on behalf of the 11,000 Jews forcibly taken from their homes and left homeless with nothing. No indignation was expressed at the pulpit. No marches took place. No signs were held. No aid extended.

The Evacuation of Kfar Hayam

No interviews appeared. It wasn’t seen as a Jewish cause. No parallels in Jewish history were found.

No rabbis issued heartfelt words about Jews expelled from Speyer, Germany, or Spain, or England.


There was no moral panic. Because no media. And so the Expulsion, known so mildly when it is spoken of at all as “Disengagement” remained and remains a local blip. A painful Israeli problem that doesn’t touch the Jews in New York or Boston or Washington, outside of the Modern Orthodox that is, that last bastion, the final vestige of caring for Jews who live in places Arabs covet.

It is like science fiction to me, these puppets of the media, JINO’s who cannot generate their own umbrage but can only be lit up by an outside force possessing interests completely at odds with Jewish philosophy. Trump’s immigration ban may be awkwardly implemented and a serious inconvenience to 90,000, some of them leaving a war zone, but it is temporary, whereas the expulsion from Gaza was forever.

And still, you don’t hear a peep. No Reform rabbi mentions them in a Rosh Hashana sermon. No Conservative congregation sends them things, the expellees. No one says boo. It’s not even in their consciousness. They’d sooner have an empty seat at the Seder table for Harvey Milk than Anita Tucker, whose only crime was making the desert bloom with celery. (Dollars to donuts they’ve heard of him, but not of her).

All of this is especially relevant and ironic today, considering what is happening right now in Amona, as I write this blog piece. Israel expels 42 families from their homes because some “human rights” organization makes a claim their homes are built on private land, though no deed must be provided as proof, and though there is actually no proof that the homes were ever owned by Arabs. Flawed law is the only reason for this expulsion as no Arabs lost their homes as a result of the construction of these Jewish homes. No one lost property, no one was hurt.

Israel expels 42 families from Amona over a contrived legal technicality, but oh the irony, takes in 100 Syrian babies. And the mass media? Silent. Not on its agenda, so not on its clipboard of moral panic material. And so the Jews of America say nothing. Do nothing. Care nothing at all about the pain of these 42 families with nowhere to go, Jews like them.

They scorn their own—Jews—in favor of a moral panic about Arab refugees, typically the enemy of their people (as they are in Gaza, the place we gave them, and the reason for the expulsion of 11,000 innocent Jewish people against their will and the will of the people of Israel).
Such is the power of the media’s hold over these empty-headed Jews. They have no brains of their own. They have no impetus to do a thing, unless the media tells them to do it.

It is sick and sad and scary and did I say sick?

Because it makes me want to vomit.

Because if you are susceptible to being drawn into a moral panic, but fail to be moved by the expulsion of the 11,000 Jews of Israel and their plight, then you are no longer human, let alone Jewish. Because Jews should only be accountable to their maker, and not to the media.


American Jewry, it is certain, is in extremis.



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Blogger and mother of 12, Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program Kars4Kids, a Guidestar Gold medal charity. The author's political opinions are her own and not endorsed by her employer.