Richard Stellar has not only won four prestigious L.A. Press Club Awards, he is also an individual with a rare sense of understanding and awareness concerning the world today. Well-known for his online presence, Richard is an award-winning blogger for The Wrap, one of the largest entertainment and media news websites which was nominated Best Entertainment website and named Best Online News Site at the National Entertainment Journalism Awards. Richard is a man of the highest caliber and it was an honor to interview him in early January:
The Zionist Narrative: What does Zionism mean to you in our time today?
Richard Stellar: Zionism doesn’t mean the same to me that it did back during the formation of Israel. Those Zionists were visionaries. They created an oasis out of sand that today is responsible for cutting edge technological and biological achievements. Therefore, you can credit Zionism with saving lives, and it continues to do so. The role of a Zionist today is to protect and insure the dreams and sacrifices of those who returned the Jewish people to their homeland. I am a Zionist, and I say that proudly. I’m frankly disappointed by my fellow Jews who renounce Zionism because of the current political climate. Zionism’s biggest challenge today is not only those who lob rockets across the border – it’s Jews who have lost their courage and have turned their back on Israel in order to fit-in with the currently popular trend to be Anti-Israel.
TZN: What is your personal connection to Israel?
RS: I’ve only recently felt a personal connection to Israel. Up until a few years ago, I was virtually clueless about Israel. I was briefly in the Jewish Defense League when I went to CSUN 30+ years ago. Back then, the JDL was headed up by Irv Rubin, and it was pretty heavy. When I re-discovered my faith through Temple of the Arts and Rabbi David Baron, I met Sharon Farber, an Israeli born film, television and concert music composer who is the Music Director of the Temple. We became involved professionally and through her and her family in Bat Yam, I got in touch with Israel. There was my connection – people who I came to know and love. I started meeting other Israelis and listened to the stories of their lives. I became aware. I began to read behind the headlines, and I was absolutely mortified at the skewed reporting and mis-truths that the media was spewing. Now, Israel is my cause. Israel is my purpose.
TZN: Why is Israel important to you as well as the Jewish community at large, in your opinion?
RS: The fact is that without Israel, we’re toast. Israel is important to me on several levels. First, as a Jew I recognize Israel to be my homeland. As an involved member of what I conceive to be a progressive and democratic society, Israel is the first line of defense against what threatens all free society – radical Islam. This is why we all must support Israel. I could care less about the inner workings of Israeli politics. I believe in the Israeli people and the democratic process that elects Israeli officials. It’s important for those who support Israel without living in Israel to give that ‘unconditional love’. I don’t pretend to know what’s best for Israel – I just know that there must continue to be an Israel. Not just an Israel that exists, but an Israel that thrives.
TZN: What do you believe students on college campuses need to realize about the situation(s) in Israel and how they are being portrayed on college campuses?
RS: College campuses have become the new breeding ground of anti-Semitic, Judeophobic and pro-radical Islamism. Students who support Israel are being targeted by ignorance and racism. The ignorance goes beyond personal attacks – it’s infecting social media and traditional media. College students must be aware of an insidious and focused campaign to infiltrate scholastic communities with hate-speak, Holocaust denial, and anti-Israel rhetoric. Through the truth comes realization of what must be done. What sucks is that the cancer of radical Islam is so viral at the college level where students are vulnerable to media and muscle.
TZN: How would you suggest that college students and campus professors oppose the oppressive and abusive bullying that many Anti-Israel groups use to suppress on-campus pro-Israel supporters, be they students or professors?
RS: It’s very difficult to mount an opposition when going for a degree. This is the challenge that college students who support Israel face. They are being drawn out by professional thugs whose primary purpose is to have a student throw the first punch. The student’s primary purpose is to get a degree, get the hell out of college and get a job. The opposition is there to disrupt that process. It’s painfully obvious when you see Jewish and pro-Israel students being bullied and goaded. They are there to draw the students into situations that will damage the student. The only way to oppose the bullying is to organize and fight fire with fire. The Zionist Narrative is a vehicle to oppose the hate and the lies. Social media is another vehicle. They hate the power of the Birthright Program, they hate the morality of the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), and they hate the fact that you are pursuing an education at UCLA, or Pepperdine, or CSUN, or Pierce – they hate us for what we are and what we have.
TZN: What would you hope for the future in terms of the campus climate towards Israel supporters?
RS: My hopes for the future would be that a college or university campus be a safe haven for those who wish to pursue their passions in science, business and the arts. I mean, isn’t that what college is for? The free exchange of ideas without fear of retribution, hate or oppression would be good too. Israel supporters should be able to support Israel in a free and open environment, as should supporters of Palestinian hopes and ideals. The college campus has become a battleground, and a cesspool of hate and ethnic bullying based on religious extremism and ignorance.
TZN: What do you hope that our readers gain from this interview and your beliefs regarding Israel and the Judeophobic sentiment that seems to have been growing on college campuses?
RS: My hope is that your readers knuckle down, study, get an education and then enter society as professionals who proactively improve our society and raise a generation of informed and empathetic kids. Okay, hopefully their parents will read no further. My other hope is that students who support Israel organize and get their voices out. Social media is powerful, and radical Islam knows how to work it better than anyone. The hope of Israel is in the people who are reading this. My generation for the most part has failed. We fail as politicians, we fail as parents, we fail as Jews. We lost the battle because we got fat and lazy. We were too concerned about what we’ve got, and not what we have. We were unprepared for the onslaught of rabid anti-Semitism that is infecting society world wide. We thought it would never happen again. It’s happening now, and college campuses seem to be ground zero for spreading lies and radicalizing students. The future of Israel is in the hands of those who are reading this. One person can cause a shift. We must be heard, we must stand our ground, and I am grateful that finally there is a passion from young people to carry the torch.