Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Self-Hating, Interfering, And Unrealistic

[Check out the first comment below. Michaela has generously offered the use of her continent to ease Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Those Australians are so friendly!]

Sorry, folks - but there are a few issues to clear up. I received a number of comments on the Israel post the other day (some of which were too rude to publish in the comments section) - the gist of them being that

  • I'm a self-hating Jew (predicted that one!)
  • As an American Jew, what Israel does is none of my business.
  • I'm an unrealistic peacenik who essentially wants to stick daisies in gun barrels and scrawl peace signs on Katyusha rockets.

I would like to agree that Israel's actions are none of my business, but it isn't true. When American Jews see our gov't making poor policy decisions based on its friendship with Israel, decisions that jeopardize our relations with other important allies, we need to speak up. When we see Israel committing (or, at best, allowing) humanitarian crimes in the name of Jewish security, we have a responsibility to say something. Also, Israel's actions are only serving to increase anti-Semitism around the world.

(and, yes, I am aware that there are people who would be anti-Semitic anyway - I'm not dumb, I don't need to see the vile videos that extremists post on YouTube, thanks very much)

Finally, as I stated in my previous post, the memories of my ancestors who died in the Holocaust are being desecrated when Israeli Jews, using the Holocaust as an excuse, treat Palestinians as less than human.

There is a lot of dissent within Israel itself on Israeli government policy towards the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza. So we American Jews aren't just being naive about the situation "on the ground" when we voice our disapproval over blockades, or invasions, or whatever. We are not alone in observing that Israel is in a reactive mode as far as its foreign policy is concerned. [Essentially, if HAMAS does this, then Israel does that. Oh, and Israel builds a wall to keep people out. If that isn't an admission of failure, I don't know what is.] I would go so far as to say that Israel's only long-term policy is to keep building in the West Bank and finally push the Palestinians out. I think Israelis deserve leaders that can come up with something better than that. Many Israelis feel that way, also.

I am not saying that if Israel changes its behavior, the terrorists will stop attacking (as one commenter implied). I am saying that Israel's current approach is not working and is even counter-productive. Keeping Palestinian populations impoverished and ripe for terrorist recruitment; building new settlements in disputed areas while negotiations on the fate of those areas are ongoing; attacking (not just boarding, but attacking) ships that belong to an ally of yours - these sort of actions are NOT HELPING end the cycle of violence. As one of my commenters pointed out, "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity." The Israeli/Palestinian situation has become officially insane.

If you think about it, both the Israeli gov't and HAMAS benefit from having a downtrodden, impoverished Gazan population. HAMAS can point to it and say, "Look how awful Israel is!" And Israel can point to it and say, "Look at how HAMAS convinces these people to be terrorists! We can't possibly make a deal with them." Until someone in power is willing to stop this game, it will continue. And people on both sides will suffer.

Israel's actions over the past 40 years have helped the extremists to win, both in its own gov't and in the Palestinian one(s). Israelis need to elect people who can act with an eye to the future, not to the past; people who accept that the Palestinians are not going to go away; people who understand that the fates of these 2 peoples are irrevocably intertwined. A wall is not the answer. Military force is not policy. And have no doubt, the problem here is policy.

Israelis need a leader with a real vision for the future. I sure hope you get one. We finally did.

[That last link up there is a good one, by Queen Rania of Jordan, a long-time ally of Israel.]


  1. I agree with you. I think you are well-informed and you are certainly entitled to your obviously well-considered viewpoints. I can't BELIEVE the hostility that was expressed towards you on your previous post. It is thoroughly disturbing!!!! Since it all boils down to a dispute over space, I would like to suggest: there is PLENTY of room for all comers in Australia. We are tolerant. We are too far away for terrorists to bother with. We have great health and education services for everyone. There is enough room within our continent for people to establish a gated religious community the size of, oh, France. And the problem would be... what, exactly?

  2. See? Already we have a solution...

  3. Hmmmm, a lot of food for thought there. I have to say that I think I'd build a wall around my house if I thought it was going to stop people coming in and blowing themselves up in my backyard. It's pretty hard to negotiate with someone who has a bomb strapped to their back.

    I think the Israeli gov't knows that Palestinians are not going to go away, and it also knows that the Palestinians will do everything they can to make Israel 'go away'.

    The Israeli/Palestinian situation has not just recently become 'officially insane'. It's been that way for thousands of years - ever since Abraham wavered in his faith and took his wife's handmaiden to bed so he could have a son, despite God promising him a legitimate son of his own (which he did have a few years later). It's been going on between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac ever since then.

    If only both sides could/would stop and embrace their brotherhood.

  4. Michaela - "We are too far away for terrorists to bother with"


    Where were you a few months ago when the Holsworthy Military Base in Sydney was locked down because authorities uncovered a plan for terrorists to go in and blow the place up?

    See here

    And a little quote from that article "...El Sayed would not stand when asked to by the Magistrate Peter Reardon. When asked why, El Sayed’s lawyer, Anthony Brand, said his client would not stand for any man except for God, according to his religious beliefs."

    That's why I, as an Australian, would not like to invite them to live here.

    Yes, we are tolerant of them and their religion, but they do not return the honour and refuse to even recognize our laws.

  5. I agree with you about honoring the host country's laws and customs. I'm thinking Michaela wasn't talking about lawbreakers, just average, everyday Israelis and Palestinians. Again, Palestinians are not all terrorists. Israeli propagandists would like us to think so, however. Just as HAMAS propagandists would like everyone to believe that Jews are all evil...

    Let's also remember that every religion has its intolerant fruitcakes.

  6. Reasonable dialogue as usual--though I'm sure not everyone will react to it that way.

  7. AnonymousJune 09, 2010

    It's heartbreaking to watch this continue, both sides dug in and angry. With so many reasonable and tolerant people caught in the crossfire.
    Feeding the intolerance with more militant language is NOT the answer, here in your comment box or anywhere else.

  8. So far, so good today! I, too, was astounded by the vitriol posted in your comments yesterday. WTH? I guess there are folks out there trolling for controversy.

  9. I appreciate that you speak up and open dialogue on all topics, including or, really, especially the sensitive ones.

  10. It's been a long while since I thought about this situation. ...it's been very interesting reading these posts of late [smile]. Thanks for sharing!


  11. remember that every religion has its intolerant fruitcakes

    Too true! I must admit that it utterly baffles me why- after thousands of years of proving it's a bad idea- crazy religious fundamentalists of all stripes still seem to think it's possible and desirable to force everyone to live by the rules of their religion and or kill anyone who disagrees with them. With all the thousands of different ideas out there, isn't it obvious that we have to actively look for ways to coexist? (And obviously I'm not just talking about the Middle East, here.)

    But apparently it isn't. Thanks for a thoughtful and interesting post. I must admit that I find it very difficult to discuss politics with my Jewish friends for exactly the reasons you mentioned in your first post.

  12. I meant to leave a comment on your previous post and didn't get around to it. Sorry, as sounds like you could have used the support.
    YES!!! I support Israel's right to exist and live in peace. I support Palestine's right to exist and have opportunities for development and advancement.
    We are no real friend to Israel when we allow her to act in such an unbecoming way without saying anything.
    For those who think Israel's background means she can do no wrong, I highly recommend the book "Blood Brothers" written by a Palestinian Christian who longs for peace.

  13. Thanks for the book recommendation!

  14. I thought I'd send some love to go with all the hate you're getting. I love it when you share your political stances. Whether I agree or not, I find your posts to be articulate and well informed. Beyond that, what can I really ask for? You rock!