Sabrosky: I express my Jewish identity in cuisine, not foreign policy

on 28 Comments

Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College. He writes:

Phil asked me to consider writing something about how I came to the Middle East conundrum we face, and I’ve thrashed around a bit doing that. Having only one Jewish grandparent makes me pretty much an outsider, at least for the Orthodox, although guaranteed of an early ride to Bergen-Belsen had I lived “there and then.” But an outside identity, Jewish or other, has never meant much at all to me. I’m an American, and ancestry is something I reserve for odd tastes in cuisine (I do love overstuffed dumplings) and the like. I find it both surprising (a little) and disturbing (a lot) when I look at the Middle East to realize that an awful lot of American Jews do not think of themselves as Americans who happen to be Jewish, but as Jews who happen to be living in America, and that as de facto unregistered agents of a foreign government they have caused enormous damage to America at home and abroad, and brought an enormous amount of death and suffering to a lot of people across the region who simply happened to be in Israel’s way.

What has struck me even more forcefully is the contrast between what I see as mainstream Jewish attitudes and ethics in America – politically liberal, progressive, ambitious but egalitarian, philanthropic, and strong commitments to both civil liberties and civil rights – and those that increasingly come to the fore among Zionists, in Israel and elsewhere. Several events in the past six months or so have sharpened that sense of the good Dr. Frankenstein wanting to make his world and that of others a better place, seeing it go wrong, but largely being unwilling to acknowledge that the creation so dear to his heart – Israel – has in fact emerged as a monster.

Two of those events occurred during the recent onslaught in Gaza. The first was the decision to initiate the attack with air strikes on the graduation ceremonies of two separate groups of police cadets – a pure exercise in Schrecklichkeit against young people, and their families and friends, who by no stretch of the imagination were part of a terrorist apparatus. The second was the killing at close range of a young Palestinian mother and her two children by an IDF sniper (another “most moral” chord, please!), who was, after all, only obeying his orders (and haven’t I heard that before?). A third was the election that returned Netanyahu as prime minister, and brought in the ever-gracious Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister. People matter so much, and those brought to power speak so loudly about those who elect them. Hitler and the scum around him would have had no place of consequence in a German Empire. Netanyahu – a Gauleiter in spirit if ever I saw one – and Lieberman, a thug cut from the mold of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, without Israel would be impotent fringe fanatics, which is where they belong.

And the last event was an offhand comment on this website after my piece on “The Two-State Delusion” was posted here – a comment that was trashed soundly by others, but which meshed perfectly with the outpourings in Max Blumenthal’s video from Jerusalem, and bothered me greatly. I had mentioned the Rachel Corrie incident, and the commenter made a sarcastic reference to “squashed red-heads” that really captured the sense, as one poster elsewhere put it, that to many Zionists they are REALLY chosen, and everyone else is disposable. Most Jews I know (and that includes some of my cousins) don’t feel that way, but it is pretty clear that a sizable percentage of Zionists generally and Israelis in particular do – and to translate rhetoric into reality, here’s an image of Rachel Corrie as she lay dying that poster was mocking.

Now tell me what you would think of someone who dismissed this so flippantly. I’d call them barbarians, and I wouldn’t care if the flag they followed sported a swastika or a Star of David. Evil is evil, whatever the creed.

The bad news is that excising this ultra-Zionist/neo-con cancer is not going to be easy. The good news is that a growing number of American Jews are speaking out about this issue, albeit in different ways, but that in itself is significant. That they are doing so is guaranteed to send the AIPAC, ADL and hasbara crowd scrambling. My only fear is that it might be too little done too late to stop this particular train. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, just that we shouldn’t have any illusions.

Sabrosky can be contacted at [email protected]

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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28 Responses

  1. David_F
    July 10, 2009, 3:57 am

    This is a excellent essay. Thank you for posting it. Phil, I hope you post more from Mr. Sabrosky.

  2. CrazyWisdom
    July 10, 2009, 4:20 am

    standing ovation!!!

  3. nanuk
    July 10, 2009, 4:24 am

    good one. lots of salient truths

  4. Nostalgic for Adolph
    July 10, 2009, 4:28 am

    I love it when people with one Jewish grandparent talk about excising the Jewish cancer. Now where have we heard that one before?

  5. Jaqueline_Hyde
    July 10, 2009, 5:01 am

    you didn't even hear it here, doofus

  6. Saleema
    July 10, 2009, 5:57 am

    Phil, I think you found your intellectual other half.

  7. MRW
    July 10, 2009, 6:57 am

    Excellent!!! Now print it and send it to the White House.

  8. seeingformyself
    July 10, 2009, 7:25 am

    Thank you! So refresshing and encouraging to read. Not even having one Jewish grandparent I do have thoughts and an opinion and they count…..even though others wouldn't agree. Again, thank you for saying what needs to be said and doing it so well

  9. DICKERSON3870
    July 10, 2009, 7:27 am

    RE: I had mentioned the Rachel Corrie incident, and the commenter made a sarcastic reference to “squashed red-heads” FROM WIKIPEDIA: "…In March 2003, the University of Maryland, College Park's campus newspaper The Diamondback published an editorial cartoon by Daniel J. Friedman, depicting Rachel Corrie sitting in front of an approaching bulldozer, with two definitions of the word "stupidity" from the American Heritage Dictionary, along with an additional self-created third line "sitting in front of a bulldozer to protect a gang of terrorists," resulting in student sit-ins and protests of in Wednesday after the cartoon appeared.[45]….. SOURCE – ” target=”_blank”>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Corrie

  10. DICKERSON3870
    July 10, 2009, 7:34 am

    RE: I had mentioned the Rachel Corrie incident, and the commenter made a sarcastic reference to “squashed red-heads” *** Rachel Corrie Soccer Tournament Fundraiser *** What: A community soccer tournament in the Yebna neighborhood of Rafah, Gaza. Why: Cut off from the world by a brutal siege, the people of the Gaza strip live with hunger, massive unemployment, and frequent attacks by the Israeli army. Stress and anger lead to hopelessness and rage, with the youth being particularly vulnerable. This innovative, community-developed soccer tournament gives neighbors a chance to strengthen bonds and relieve the stress caused by the dire situation. When: The month of Ramadan, August 21st – September 14th. Funds Needed: $10,500 U.S. / Fundraiser Ends: August 3oth *** MORE INFO – ” target=”_blank”>http://www.palestinereview.org/Rachel_Corrie_Socc…

  11. Warren
    July 10, 2009, 8:50 am

    I always just assume that people who make offensive comments about Rachel Corrie's tragic murder possess a deep, abiding hatred of gentiles. Maybe too much blond or red hair there (at least amongst the European ones). Is this where Zionism coalesces with Eliminationist sentiment? To the Daniel Friedman's out there, just move to Netanyahu's Israel and get it over with, join the IDF or something, you'd really fit in with the butchers that attacked Gaza.

  12. Strahl
    July 10, 2009, 8:53 am

    oh noes! the sky is falling! its 193something all over again! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

  13. Citizen
    July 10, 2009, 10:21 am

    Thank you Mister Weiss and MIster Sabrosky. What a wondrous breath of fresh air! I too would love to hear more from MIster Sabrosky who evokes heart, intelligence, and–above all great soul–searching honesty. The childish and trashy slur about Rachel Corrie discussed has had many equally little repulsive companions made by the usual zionist-neocon barbarians commenting here. We all know who they are. They both believe their slurs and always hope to disrupt the informative exchange that goes on as between Phil and those drawn to this blog as responsible people. And you don't need to have even one Jewish grandparent to experience what Mister Sabrosky has experienced and to come to the same conclusions and POV.

  14. RichardWitty
    July 10, 2009, 10:21 am

    "and that as de facto unregistered agents of a foreign government they have caused enormous damage to America at home and abroad, and brought an enormous amount of death and suffering to a lot of people across the region who simply happened to be in Israel’s way." What a bullshit analysis. There are MANY Americans that regard themselves as primarily from a community and secondarily Americans. The logic justifies a fascistic primary loyalty test. "Are you more AFRICAN-American, or African- AMERICAN?" Who gives a shit? The humane is most important. That is absolutely true. So, apply it in your own life, model it for others, suggest it as a positive value. Stay away from the "dual loyalty" fascism please.

  15. RichardWitty
    July 10, 2009, 10:24 am

    Just for contrast, I cannot and don't eat most "Jewish" foods. I'm a vegetarian and a celiac. I don't eat bagels, lox, knishes, kugels, chicken soup. But, I DO identify as family of family with my irritating right and left family, unconditionally, as family is.

  16. Sin Nombre
    July 10, 2009, 10:37 am

    Alan Sabrosky wrote: "What has struck me even more forcefully is the contrast between what I see as mainstream Jewish attitudes and ethics in America – politically liberal, progressive, ambitious but egalitarian, philanthropic, and strong commitments to both civil liberties and civil rights – and those that increasingly come to the fore among Zionists…." Boy, and while put in liberal-partisan words if that doesn't just perfectly capture the perspective on the Right in Diaspora countries. After all, for every favorable descriptive term Sabrosky used to describe the "mainstream [Diaspora] jewish attitudes and ethics" he notes, the Right in Diaspora countries have other, less golden descriptions, with its view essentially being that they are of the sort and are pushed to such a degree that they essentially amount to advocating the cultural suicide of their homelands. (Especially, for instance, the agitation for essentially unrestricted immigration into Diaspora countries.) And yet, as Sabrosky further notes, when it comes to Israel it can appear that absolutely every one of those Diaspora "attitudes and ethics" are indeed recognized as being mortal enemies when the slightest push comes to the slightest shove. Makes you wonder why anyone on the Right gets exercised about the agonies Israel is going through now: nearly every challenge spearing at it come from those Left-liberal "attitudes and ethics." Even to the point, as Ehud Olmert himself said of the one-state solution, of pushing for measures that would indeed mean the essential suicide of Israel.

  17. Laurie
    July 10, 2009, 10:49 am

    "…the good Dr. Frankenstein wanting to make his world and that of others a better place…" – And this is really the rub isn't it? Both Jews and Christians want to make the world a better place…by their definition. It is time for us, now in the 21st century to realize we do not know what is best for other peoples. Israel being the case in point, it's a wreck. We need to pull back and trust that the rest of the world will do what is best for them. Minding one's own business use to be a virtue. Having said this, you are quite right in worrying about Israel and Jews. Israel is an American concern because we helped create and sustain it. I believe the best way to find an answer is to throw open the debate to all Americans, not only those who can claim some Jewish blood. Someone like James Petras for instance. Your post is sincere Alan and I appreciate it. It is clear you are very much an American with American attitudes.

  18. Big Bill
    July 10, 2009, 11:34 am

    >> What has struck me even more forcefully is the contrast between what I see as mainstream Jewish attitudes and ethics in America – politically liberal, progressive, ambitious but egalitarian, philanthropic, and strong commitments to both civil liberties and civil rights – and those that increasingly come to the fore among Zionists, in Israel and elsewhere. Alan, I am sorry we American gentiles disappoint you. I guess we are too conservative (versus progressive)? Too greedy (versus philanthropic)? Too indifferent to civil liberties? You are almost an American like the rest of us, Alan, but you still see your birth culture as enlightening the savages — or rather, more enlightened than the savages. Whites — good-hearted, decent, honest whites — in Zimbabwe and South Africa have the same problem. When you finally force them to drop all their kumbayah, they believe the white man's way truly is best, much as you believe the Jewish way truly is best. And that is why they will always be visitors in Africa.

  19. Citizen
    July 10, 2009, 11:37 am

    Sabrosky talked about "this ultra-Zionist/neo-con cancer." Why do you conflate that distinction with "the Jewish cancer"?

  20. Nostalgic4Goldstein
    July 10, 2009, 11:46 am

    Thanks for revealing you hear voices in your head, rabid, foaming anti-semites careening around inside your dome, roller-skating forever on the hard bone circumference.

  21. chu
    July 10, 2009, 2:15 pm

    Wow Phil, consider yourself on the enemies list. The ideas you mention resonate with me, in that so many problems in the Middle East are a seen a success to these Zionist scam-artists. They seem to get on a 'high' when they can deceive people. David Frum, who thinks he is a real genius, is a prime example of this wretched stereotype. As soon as this type of filth can be exposed in the sunlight, which we want to help bring about, the sooner things can change. But the Zionist pig enjoys this dark game and I don't think it will ever change.

  22. LeaNder22
    July 10, 2009, 4:27 pm

    Richard, you overdo your fascist equations. I too have still mixed sentiments concerning the topic "dual loyalty" but your easy equation of "dual loyalty" with fascism is completely unhistorical. I'd suggest you look at the entry in Wikipedia: ” target=”_blank”>” target=”_blank”>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_loyalty On American ground it seems to have been a suspicion against Catholics initially: Moderator's addendum about conditions in the United States … in American politics the accusation of dual loyalty has historically been associated with anti-Catholicism. During the presidential campaign of 1884 there was an outcry against a Republican speaker who associated the Democratic Party with "rum, Romanism, and rebellion," but a standard reference book, _The Reader's Companion to American History_, says that this contributed little to the Democrats' subsequent victory. And anti-Catholicism certainly did play a part in the elections of 1928 and 1960, when the Democrats nominated Catholic candidates for President. I have to admit I found this interesting given Bismarck's (the Prussian's) anti-Catholic hysteria and laws.

  23. An0nym0us Poster
    July 10, 2009, 5:57 pm

    Here is an outstanding interview with Alan Sabrosky: Guests : Gary Brummett & Alan Sabrosky Perceptions of USS Liberty attack and reluctance of career soldiers to discuss it. Israeli wars and the problems of occupation.

  24. An0nym0us Poster
    July 10, 2009, 5:58 pm
  25. Duscany
    July 10, 2009, 11:44 pm

    I understand why you might want people to stay away from the "dual loyalty" issue. But asserting the primacy of loyalty to your community is really just another way saying that, in your book, when it comes to America or Israel, Israel comes first.. Well, phooey on that. This country doesn't work unless we have a civic culture that equally values all Americans, not just those from one's own tribe.

  26. David_F
    July 11, 2009, 7:53 am

    A nation made up of people who cannot place the good of the nation over the good of their own group is not a nation. If an American Jew cannot decisively put the interests of the US over Israel when they come in conflict, than he or she should move to Israel. In this I agree wholeheartedly with Zionist ideology. Otherwise he or she is simply replaying the parasitic role that Hertzl detested and sought to end with a truly independent Jewish state. The dual-loyalty issue is not going to go away. It demands a direct answer, if only to oneself.

  27. Mohammed al Sarafi
    July 12, 2009, 8:39 pm

    Why do most anti-zionists and members of the radical left have absolutely no interest in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of civilians were murdered brutally by hordes of arab militias? because there is no way to blame it on the jews! Zionism is a legitimate and necessary ideological movement, not because Jews are superior to non-jews, but because the non-jews try to wipe out the jews every few decades.

  28. Jan
    July 16, 2009, 12:35 am

    I have eight Jewish great-parents, four Jewish grandparents and two Jewish parents and I cannot praise Alan Sabrosky's essay enough. Every word is right on target. It is way past time that people understand that when Israeli supporters sling out the epithet of "anti-Semitism" or "self-hating" that is only a means of either shutting down conversation or ensuring that those who tell the truth about the Jewish state will be silenced. It hasn't worked and it won't work. The truth will make everyone free.

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