Joe Mantegna, the star of the CBS television show Criminal Minds and a minor character in the universally panned “Larry the Cable Guy” vehicle Witless Protection, plans to auction off two Tavor rifles to fundraise for Friends of the IDF, a New York City-based organization that lends material support to the Israeli military.
Israel Weapon Industries-US (IWI-US) is co-sponsoring the event on Sunday, 23 August, with Bullets & Bagels, a Jewish gun club in Orange County, California. Event attendees “will get to shoot the TAVOR at the range and receive basic shooting instruction and assistance from an [National Rifle Association]-certified instructor.”
According to a press release from IWI-US, Mantegna will conduct an auction for two Tavor rifles produced by IWI. Proceeds from the auction will go to Friends of the IDF.
Michael Kassner, IWI-US Vice President of Sales and Marketing, said “IWI is proud to support the Jewish community. ‘Bullets & Bagels’ allows all who love guns, great food and Israel to get together, eat, shoot and shoot the breeze. … Don’t be surprised if you see me there myself. I could always go for some bagels and lox with a side of Tavor.”
Friends of the IDF (FIDF) is an organization that provides material support to a military implicated in war crimes by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and numerous other expert organizations.
FIDF lauds Israeli attacks on Palestinians on its YouTube page. It posts numerous videoes celebrating “Heroes of Operation Protective Edge,” the summer 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip, as well as others supporting the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza.
Palestinian solidarity activists have consistently targeted FIDF. Most recently, two young Jewish men were arrested in Connecticut in May while protesting a FIDF fundraising luncheon. In spite of its actions and protests against them, FIDF continues to raise money for the Israeli military and supportive local groups like Bullets & Bagels continue to put on events towards that end.
David Rossi vs. Jason Gideon
Mantegna’s participation in the fundraiser stands in stark contrast to his predecessor on Criminal Minds. Mantegna plays David Rossi, an FBI profiler who comes out of retirement in season three of the series to lead the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Rossi replaces Jason Gideon, portrayed by Mandy Patinkin, who left the unit after struggling to reconcile his personal beliefs with the unending violence of the job.
Off set, while Mantegna is raising funds for the Israeli military, Patinkin has been a vocal critic of Israeli policy. He signed onto a 2010 statement calling for the cultural boycott of settlements in the occupied West Bank.
In 2013 Patinkin noted at the Other Israel Film Festival — itself a violation of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions — in New York that on a recent trip to Palestine he saw the dramatic results of Israeli policies. “You need to see where only Jews are allowed to walk … And Jews can only ride on certain streets and highways, and Palestinians are forbidden — and they live right there,” he said.
While Matenga stumps for an organization that supports the continual dispossession of the Palestinian people, Patinkin lifted the memory of Samih Jebriel Jneid, a 4-year-old child from Jabaliya Camp in the Gaza Strip who was killed by the Israeli military during last summer’s assault.