A regular column by an anonymous whistle-blower operating deep within the heart of the Social Justice Movement. To protect their identity, they will go under the code-name ‘They/Them’. Wokeyleaks is a confidential news leak organization for anyone who wishes to divulge classified information (and hilarious anecdotes) about woke culture without fear of getting canceled. To any would-be Edward Snowflakes out there: leak your woke-culture war crimes to email@example.com. We promise to protect our sources.
Having spent a lot of time in Brooklyn, I find it easier to understand Israel’s occupation of Palestine not as a ‘religious conflict’, but as a kind of militarized gentrification. It has been widely reported that the spark for this last outbreak of violence came from a narrow street in East Jerusalem where right-wing Jewish settlers are evicting Palestinian families from their homes. Less well covered is the more insidious social cleansing happening in places like Jaffa in Tel Aviv where poor Israeli Arabs (and Jews) are being pushed out by affluent hipsters from Soho House. A bit like Judaism, Soho House is a global private member’s club that would prefer it if you didn’t try to join; the chief difference being that Judaism requires matrilineality, whereas Soho House requires that you are from the ‘creative industries’.
Soho House Tel Aviv, complete with club, garden, rooftop pool and 24 bedrooms in a restored convent in Jaffa, was set to open this spring. Tragically for members, that will probably now have to be delayed. But even when the current chapter in this Groundhog Day war is resolved, are guests really going to want to drink margarita picantes on the roof of a hotel that is in range of Hamas rockets?
Tel Aviv was long known as ‘the Bubble’ due to its disconnection from past conflicts. Residents could happily spend a day tanning at the beach while Gaza was brutally crushed just 50km down the road. But now Hamas are using a new rocket called the Ayyash 250 (named after the famous Palestinian bombmaker Yahya Ayyash) that they say enables them to hit any point in Israel. This time round, rockets have struck all over Tel Aviv and even made it as far as Eilat some 250km away.
This might be a blessing in disguise though for residents of the mostly Arab neighborhood of Jaffa. A Soho House opening in your area portends plagues of hipsters and the inevitable exodus of the original residents as everything becomes wildly unaffordable. This phenomenon is already well underway in Jaffa. Five-star hotels and luxury residences are popping up around the old town where 20,000 poor Arab residents still live — remnants of the Palestinian population that were there before 1948. Prices have exploded in the last few years and graffiti daubs the city walls saying ‘Jaffa is not for sale’ in both Hebrew and Arabic. This is gentrification with serious consequences. Riots have rocked Jaffa; an Israeli soldier was hospitalized after being attacked by violent mobs and two Arab children were injured after their home was firebombed.
It is debatable how appealing all this will be to Soho House members who prefer travel experiences that don’t require them to step outside their economic or cultural bubbles. For many, the appeal of Soho Houses is that no matter where you are in the world, you’re always essentially in the same place. You can enjoy the exact same décor, cocktails and menu and repeat the same coked-up conversations with the same generic media types whether you’re in LA, Barcelona or Berlin. I’m a Soho House member myself. In fact, I’m currently writing this article from Soho House New York, but then again it could just as easily be Amsterdam or London. I guess we’ll never know.
In order to help put the minds of members at rest in these uncertain times, The Spectator asked Soho House Tel Aviv whether they were accepting membership applications from Gazans. Soho House responded to say: ‘Soho House is an inclusive place for creative people to come together and we accept members from wherever they are in the world. We celebrate diversity, and do not judge on gender, race, sexuality, physicality or origin.’ I don’t want to alarm Soho House members, but the major ‘creative industries’ in Gaza that survived Israel’s 14-year economic blockade are missile-making and tunnel-digging (I wonder if Yahya Ayyash would have qualified). Reassuringly though, this may not be something members need worry about as the Gaza Strip is a bit like a member’s club in reverse in that it is almost impossible to get out. Furthermore, I have no doubt that Soho House will do everything in its power to insulate its guests not only from local cuisine and culture, but from uncomfortable local politics too.
That’s not to say politics isn’t on the menu at Soho Houses, quite the contrary. It’s just that it is as bland as their butter lettuce and avocado salad. Their Instagram account is stacked with posts about Women’s History Month and Black History Month; BLM black squares proclaim ‘We hear you. We See you. We stand with you’. Their members’ app is full of forums on ‘diversity and inclusion’, talks on ‘art and activism’ and video tutorials on ‘breathwork’.
This is the woke identity politics of the ‘fameoisie’. As described in previous Wokeyleaks articles, the fameoisie are the burgeoning class of people who, thanks to social media, self-identify as famous. You may not consider someone with 20,000 followers on Instagram famous, but crucially they do. This has turned millions of people across the planet into abject narcissists. It is a Warholian nightmare come true.
The fameiosie are a globalist elite that define themselves not by a national identity or religion, but by their professions instead. They are not just people that work in film, fashion, advertising or art. It’s more that those careers actually give their lives meaning in an almost spiritual sense. Appropriately Soho House describes its main criteria for membership as having a ‘creative soul’.
Much like Israel, Soho House has been aggressively expanding of late. What started as one exclusive club in London’s Soho is now a rather less exclusive 29 clubs across the planet. Interestingly, this explosion has taken place in the last five or six years to cater for the explosion of the fameoisie.
But until relatively recently Soho House was fairly apolitical. Its conversion to wokeness dates back to the fevered events of last summer and (perhaps not coincidentally) also coincides with the news that the company has submitted a confidential filing for an initial public offering (IPO) that will value it at more than $3 billion. Because the fameoise have no sense of belonging to any church or state, they are desperate to breathe some kind of moral purpose into the multinational brands where they shop and work.
If they are going to be spending $25 on a ‘picante de la casa’ at Soho House Mumbai rather than on a meal for two (inc. drinks) at a locally owned restaurant, then they need to feel that the multi-billion-dollar hotel chain they are staying in has some higher purpose beyond the pursuit of profit. And yet, because the fameoise are such an inordinate bunch of omphaloskeptics, they remain completely oblivious to the antipathy they inspire in local communities wherever a new House pops up. If and when it does open, I hope members enjoy Soho House Tel Aviv, but they might want to keep their voices down when bloviating about their ‘occupation’ around the Arab staff.
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