Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Standing by La MaMa

An unusually idiotic Israel-related boycott piques my wrath

Print Email
Ellen Stewart, of La Mama, in 2006.(NYT)

I have more than a few bad traits, but I don’t think hotheadedness is one of them. A decade of reporting and writing about Jews—not to mention the two and half decades before that living as one—has thickened my skin enough that I don’t generally overreact to stupidity or misguidedness, either when it is perpetrated by my co-religionists or when it is directed at them. But in the annals of recent toxic lunacy, a call to boycott the La MaMa Theater for hosting a gala to raise money for an Israeli Dance Week takes home first prize. Let me say this as plainly as I can, before the throbbing veins in my neck burst: Boycotting is stupid; singling out Israel for boycotting is unjust; and boycotting artists is, among a host of other bad things, incredibly tacky. But boycotting La MaMa—the experimental theater in New York that, guided by the incomparable and dear departed Ellen Stewart, became a once-in-a-generation haven of internationalism and cultural freedom—is just nuts.

The call was issued on the Dance Insider’s Website by Paul Ben-Itzak, a writer whose alter egos include “DJ Yo Mama,” on January 13 — the very day that Stewart died. (I’m going to believe this is a coincidence—that Ben-Itzak did not intentionally attack the theater on the day it lost its patron saint—mainly because to believe otherwise would cause a depression that not even hours of videos of cats hugging their teddy bears could alleviate.)

Ben-Itzak argued that the “net effect [of La MaMa’s participation] will be to help whitewash Israel’s ongoing Apartheid policies, destruction of Palestinian homes and olive orchards, theft of Palestinian land, failure to take any responsibility for what a UN investigation deemed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in its invasion of the Gaza strip in which it killed 1400 people, the majority civlians [sic], lethal attack on the Turkish flotilla attempting to break Israel’s illegal Gaza blockade of vital goods, denying Palestinians married to Israelis the right to even enter the country, new restrictions on Israeli peace groups, and, most recently, killing a Palestinian woman who was simply watching a demonstration against Israel’s illegal Apartheid wall with American-manufactured tear gas.”

Read that again. This man just blamed an experimental avant-garde theater on East Fourth and the Bowery for the Middle East conflict.

Listen to me, Paul: There was only one La MaMa, and Yo Mama doesn’t deserve to be in the same blogpost as her. But I will put you here, in the hopes that her spiritual presence somehow shames you into admitting your mistake. As for everyone else: Do you care about—oh, take your pick: Israel? New York City? Ellen Stewart? dance? artistic freedom? justice? truth? anything? Then I urge you to support La Mama against this effort. (One way is to donate here.)

And now, in celebration of Mr. Ben-Itzak’s stupendous feeble-mindedness, I think a Yo Mama joke-off is in order. Winner not only gets a Nextbook Press book of choice; I will formally make my donation to La MaMa in his or her honor. Here, I’ll start us off easy: “Yo Mama is so stupid he thought he could get away with this bullshit.” Your turn.

Say It Ain’t So (La) MaMa [Dance Insider]
Ellen Stewart, Off Off Broadway Pioneer, Dies at 91 [NYT]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Yo Mama is so ignorant, that he can’t even get his facts right!

Yo Mama is so fixated on what he thinks is the enemy that he can’t see he’s become it.

Yo Mama is so silly, that when he preaches to not support the arts, free speech and La Mama’s right to support and encourage whomever they want in the name of good beauty he is biting the hand that feeds.

Yo Mama lies are so big, that when he goes around telling them, he goes AROUND telling them.

Yo Mama is so self-righteous he believes that he can preach about unfounded accusations of injustice while showing himself to be nothing but a hater in a free thinker’s clothing.

yaffa w. says:

Yo Mama is so stupid, he didn’t bother to find out that La Mama visited Israel at least twice, and transformed the lives of many artists who went on to become champions of inclusiveness and cross cultural exchanges between Israelis & Palestinians

Reader says:

Paul Ben-Itzak likes to deem himself an insider of dance but has picked fights with just about anyone who doesn’t adhere exactly to his vision. Dance Insider used to be a relevant web site in the dance world and has been left behind because of PBI’s fights. He’s not worth the time.

David D says:

yo mama has only one eye, and so can’t see that the Arab-Israeli conflict “apart” from his black and blue “heid”

David D says:

Sorry that should be:

yo mama has only one eye, and so can’t see the Arab-Israeli conflict “apart” from his black and blue “heid”

Jordan M says:

I find this so odd. Arkadi one of the choreographers that they are bringing is arab. His piece Quiet deals with the very thing he is trying to explain. Art is not the cause of politics. Most people want to escape so they create. Why deny that.

Arkadi is actually Jewish. His piece has two Jewish dancers and two Arab ones

it is stupid to try stop art evants…most of israeli artists are leftwing anyway..boycot israeli made things from the oquppied teritories..

Isn’t it past time for Jews to wake up to the moral depravity of the left?

Yo Mamma is so dumb he thought he was staging a super liberal protest but actually boycotted a mecca of avant-garde performance.

paul beckman says:

Yo Mamma is dumb he doesn’r realize his real name is “You Mother . . .”

Bernie says:

My vote goes to Paul Beckman!!
But for the heck of it:

Yo Mamma is so blind he cannot see trees for the forest.

“[Arkadi’s] piece has two Jewish dancers and two Arab ones”

Yo Moma is so against “Israeli Apartheid” that he boycotts of Arabs and Jews dancing together.

Wait. That makes no sense.

Yo Mama is such a moron he has been disowned by his Ma Ma

Benjamin Entine says:

Such an idiot that he called for a boycott of YoYoMa concerts.

AN fanclub says:

Yo Mama and La MaMa
Sittin’ by the fire.
Yo Mama said to La MaMa:
I’m gonna start an idiotic boycott on your funeral pyre.

This from his bio: “Paul divides his time between Paris and southwest France.” That’s quite the commute. I wouldn’t be too concerned about this doofus and if he says anything mean, tell him to wash out his mouf wit a bar o’ Ahava soap.

I’ve said that least 3482208 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

I merely wanted to thank you once more for that amazing web site you have made here. It really is full of ideas for those who are truly interested in this subject, primarily this very post. Your all so sweet and also thoughtful of others as well as reading your blog posts is a good delight if you ask me. And such a generous treat! Dan and I usually have fun making use of your suggestions in what we have to do in a few weeks. Our list is a kilometer long and tips might be put to good use.

Very instructive and great body structure of content, now that’s user friendly (:.

Hey! The content is very useful. Thanks !

I like your blog site.. excellent shades & design. Does you style this site your self or perhaps do you bring in help to get it done for you? Plz interact since I!


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Standing by La MaMa

An unusually idiotic Israel-related boycott piques my wrath

More on Tablet:

From the Mekong to Maryland

By Hillel Kuttler — After the fall of Saigon, a Baltimore synagogue helped 15 Vietnamese become Americans