Michael Widlanski, Visiting Israeli Scholar at UCI, Has Problems with Orange County Jews

A visiting professor at UC Irvine from a Tel Aviv university sees similarities between olive trees and Jews thriving in Southern California.

"Much of the California flora and fauna," writes Michael Widlanski, "is long on form but short on content, displaying a kind of fruitless, rootless beauty that can be swept away by natural and unnatural disasters like a forest fire or intermarriage."

Widlanski, the Schusterman Visiting Professor at UCI for 2013-14, makes the observations in The Algemeiner, "the fastest growing Jewish newspaper in America."

The author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat (Threshold/Simon and Schuster) and contributor to The New York Times, Cox Newspapers and The Jerusalem Post, was apparently inspired by olive trees growing near Fashion Island in Newport Beach, where "they seem to symbolize a life-style and a culture."

"Southern California's olive trees are taller and emptier than olive trees anywhere in Israel, because the California authorities specially treat the trees. They do not bear fruit, but they look good. ... They are a good metaphor for California and, most sadly, for its Jews."

Widlanski cites: the lax attitude toward marriage outside the faith; the sad shape of kosher sections in local supermarkets; Israelis changing their names to better fit in; the lack of enrollment in Jewish days schools where Hebrew is taught; and Chabad rabbis and California teen-age Jews getting drunk together ("They pretend to be spiritual while getting spirited").

Observing child-rearing in Orange County takes Widlanski up the cliffs overlooking Laguna Beach, where he sees people "running and walking, enjoying nature, many parading with their babies--not children, but usually dogs, many in baby carriages." He believes you'll see more babies--human babies--in Israel.

Widlanski's conclusion: Judaism here is "as superficial as a California suntan."

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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Oy this Israeli anti western attitude is arrogant and narrow minded.  The olive trees are not as good?  Are we dealing with an adult here or an infant.   This "my  mom's better than your mom."......unbelievable.     When we are living in a dark time in our history again, do we really need to spread this kind of resentment and bitterness, which only further creates the chasm that we are seeing today between American Jewry and israeli Jews.  Don't we have enough to contend with a bubbling up of anti semitism in the west.  On UCI campus alone there is a thick blanket of anti-Israel sentiment thanks to the MSU and CAIR presence on the campus,.  Funny that the good professor has not mentioned  a word about this problem.  Has he not seen the Apartheid wall, or the ongoing  BDS campaign taking place on UCI and other UC campuses?   Why pick on Jews, there are a host of true enemies out there, in fact right on campus  there are a plethora of groups to criticize. 

I have traveled extensively in Israel for years, extended stays, and what i have discovered is that israelis seem to have an animosity for their fellow Jew, and yet they complain when we do not all make aliyah.    

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.  I am an American jewess, and very proud and very confident of my Jewishness, even though I do not live in Israel.  My daughter is a combat soldier in the IDF, and I know it would hurt her to the core to hear that a professor from  our own UCI, our neighborhood school, was  making harsh remarks.  Such a shame.  I would suggest the good  Prof come over to my home across the street from the University and I will happily host him and show him a Jewish home deeply rooted in culture and our Jewish heritage.   The  gross insults are hurtful and for a visitiing professor to make such statements is outré at the very least.  


"natural and unnatural disasters like a forest fire or intermarriage"

Go back to Israel with your garbage. Here in America we live in the 21st century.

Check out this guys linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-widlanski/16/19/7

He was "special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992"... Gee, I wonder why this IsraeliSupremacist couldn't help make peace


At 41 years old. this schmuck needs to grow up. Life doesn't happen on your schedule or timeline


Since when does Southern California have to pander to specific beliefs, religions, races etc? Since when does ANYWHERE in the U.S. have to do that? 

I respect that people have different opinions and religions, and faith, but where does this guy get off thinking it's O.K. to judge the lifestyles preferences of a community (ie: "...lax attitude toward marriage outside the faith; the sad shape of kosher sections in local supermarkets; Israelis changing their names to better fit in; the lack of enrollment in Jewish days schools where Hebrew is taught...")?

If you expect those standards, then I suggest you find a place that has and accepts your practices seemingly more than Southern California does rather than imposing your beliefs on people whose lives this does not affect.

Everybody does something different to create a happy life for themselves. If it doesn't hurt you, why care?

whateveryousay topcommenter

This is one of the most bigoted things I've read in a while:

Widlanski cites: the lax attitude toward marriage outside the faith;


@AmericaFirst  OUCH,  sounds like you are the one with the   racial supremacist attitude- "Go back to Israel with your garbage? "   Wow!!!   This is the kind of talk we used to hear in the 50s and early 60s- from  the John Birchers.  I remember  our neighbor  had a  mixed marriage, and the Birchers erected a cross on the lawn and set it on fire.  This is the 21st century friend,  welcome to it,  America is  no longer all white.  So    best for you to get some tolerance under your belt, and get used to it.

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