Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Israeli Government is not the Jewish People

By the time I was born, the Second World War was over and Israel was already a fact. I have been an Anti-Zionist since the seventies when Jews like me were all termed “self-hating.” I do not confuse supporting the struggles of the Palestinian people with prejudice against Jews which is erroneously termed Anti-Semitism, since all people of Middle-Eastern descent are Semites. 

I thoroughly and totally condemn the brutality of the Israeli regime. I despise the whole premise of a religious versus a secular state and I do not think that a person expressing Anti-Israel sentiment necessarily implies will towards Jewish people. Yes, I fervently wish my relatives in Europe had taken Germany instead of Palestine, that the railroad tracks to Auschwitz had been bombed, that the ships taking Jewish refugees to the USA had not been turned away. But those things happened and, just as we are now dealing with the ramifications of slavery, the legacy of the brutal oppression of Jews has left the world with an out-of control “Jewish homeland.”

That having been said, I would like to address something else. The blog entry I wanted to publish this week was about the ancient synagogue and adjoining Jewish Museum in Rhodes, Greece. I am delaying that entry and writing this one because I don’t believe anything about Jewish history would be well-received right now and I find that fact, in and of itself, to be a misguided, biased reaction.

As a Jew, I would like to be proud of my ancestors the way that Italian, Irish, Black, Native American and all other minorities are of theirs. I should be able to post historical articles about my relatives without fearing misinterpretation or worse. Jews are not responsible for each other’s behavior anymore than other members of minority groups are. And the actions of the Israeli government don’t represent the will of the Israeli people just as the actions of the US government, don’t represent our will. But getting carried away with thoughtless generalizations of an entire group of people is destructive and counter-productive.

Here is an example of the problem. A longtime, leftist comrade recently, and I believe inadvertently, posted an article about the violence against the people of Gaza that came directly from a right-wing, Neo-Nazi, propaganda website. This is not okay! Read what you post before you hit that button! Here are some things to watch out for so you don’t repeat this mistake: references to the Talmud or publications like “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The use of Yiddish words like “goyim,” concepts like, “Jewish blood,” the substitution of the word, Jews for the word, Israelis and frankly, just plain, nasty, stereotyping.

It is absolutely imperative that we be as critical of Israel as we are of other imperialist, warmongering countries. But, just as drones and smart-bombs turn out to be not all that targeted or smart, we must be mindful of the way we categorize people and precisely how we utilize our words. The keyboard is mightier than the sword! The end result, peace, is vitally important, but so is what we do on that journey to get there. If we are sloppy and compromise our ethics to reach this goal, we will have effectively thrown out the baby with the bathwater!