The toxic downfall of the Jewish dream of a safe homeland

Israel/Palestine
on 17 Comments

We’ve run a couple of accounts (here and here) of Israel’s killing of a 20-year old Gazan for herding his animals too close to the buffer zone in the prison that is the Gaza strip. Now an American responds to the news.

From the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza:

Yesterday morning Salama Abu Hashish, 20 years, was herding his sheep and goats in Beit Lahya, in northern Gaza, when the Israeli Occupation Forces shot him without any warning. The bullet hit his back and went straight through one of his kidneys. He had surgery and was in the intensive care unit at Kamal Adwan Hospital, where he died at 5.30 pm. The IOF has not only taken a life away from the Abu Hashish family; it widowed a young woman and orphaned a baby that was only born the previous evening. Salama Abu Hashish had just become a father, but has not even been able to name his first born.

In 1945 the war against the Nazis ended. I was 10 years old and had emigrated with my parents to New York. For years and well into adulthood, I had pushed the debauchery of Germany by the Nazis undergound and assumed my role as a “good” American. I am an assimilated Jew as were so many German Jews so that my “Jewishness” as a religion meant nothing to me. I haphazardly identified as a “cultural” Jew. In this way I held onto some vestige of my Jewish identification. I married a socialist and politics became my religion.

Some years later when I was well into my fifties, a creeping torment began to nag at me, a direct result of numerous visits to Israel to visit relatives, refugees from Germany who were supportive of Israeli politics. But most influential, beloved and life altering for me was a first cousin of my father who became my mentor and role model as both a critic and lover of Israel. Hans Lebrecht, a former human rights activist and journalist now in his 90’s, taught me the truth about Israel’s human rights abuses to Palestinians, the insatiable hunger for land not theirs and the racism towards Sephardic Jews and Bedouins. I was shocked out of my love for the Kibbutzim and the idea of a democratic, safe Israeli homeland. How could they have built Socialist style communal living on someone else’s land? It did not make sense. I am now fifteen years later accustomed to feeling torment as I pursue the question of Palestinian liberation and the abuses perpetrated by the Israeli State. I feel in me an aspect of the “reviled Jew who must be cleansed out of Germany and Europe.” This part of me had remained dormant for many decades of my life. This “hatred of Jews” and others deemed to be “inferior” was the driving force created by the monsters of German nationalism.

We know Germany was not alone. Cambodia whose killing fields I have seen, created a similar holocaust where toxic hatred was displaced on an entire population of intellectuals and professionals who were systematically murdered to create a subservient country of submission.

Suddenly I have become a staunch advocate of Palestinian rights and liberation from occupation and hatred. The torment now conscious, does not go away but accelerates on a daily basis for I am every Palestinian who is reviled, murdered and pushed from their homeland into occupied ghettos of despair. I am every refugee without a home.

Racism is a disease. It spreads as a malignancy, a hatred that assumes another person is less than human. Islamic teachings condemn racism and tribalism and promote equality and brotherhood of all human beings. Furthermore, Islam teaches that racism, nationalism, ethnic discrimination or considering oneself superior over others in any way is forbidden, not acceptable and not permitted. These are similar teachings of what it means to be a Jew. They are religions of compassion.

What we see in Israel is a distortion of Judaism and an attempt by the Israeli State to insist that Israel professes Jewish values as well as moral superiority (note the oxymoron “moral army”). Nothing could be further from the truth. True Judaism opposes the stealing of land, the occupation and the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland. The hallmark of Zionism in Israel is a harsh nationalism that has imposed itself in a completely illegitimate and amoral way on the Palestinian population. Jewish Americans and those who call themselves progressives (with the exception of their unquestioning support of Israel) have been brainwashed through the power of the Israeli lobby and The American Jewish Committee that has control over the American news media. Only the Israeli side of the story is heard, Muslims are demonized and the occupation of Palestinians on their own land is justified. I believe the emotional relationship of Jews as victims of the Holocaust also plays a powerful role in obtaining support for Israel’s cruel subjugation. For example, the Israeli story line asks for support of a democratic Israel in its quest for peace and security. What is not debated is just how does Israel’s claim to be “democratic” state where people enjoy human rights and dignity coexist with the truth of it’s apartheid racist and degrading relationship with the Palestinians. And then there is another piece that assumes it is a hate crime to criticize Israel using the Holocaust to evoke guilt and shame. 

For all of us who desire a peaceful co-existence in the middle east, we must have the courage to stand against any forms of racism no matter how it is justified. Racism tears a society apart in a toxic irreversible manner. Stand with me please, I ask you once again.

17 Responses

  1. James
    December 26, 2010, 12:21 pm

    “The hallmark of Zionism in Israel is a harsh nationalism that has imposed itself in a completely illegitimate and amoral way on the Palestinian population. ”

    thanks for your post and comments..

    • Mooser
      December 26, 2010, 1:35 pm

      “The hallmark of Zionism in Israel is a harsh nationalism that has imposed itself in a completely illegitimate and amoral way on the Jews”

  2. Polly
    December 26, 2010, 12:34 pm

    “What we see in Israel is a distortion of Judaism and an attempt by the Israeli State to insist that Israel professes Jewish values as well as moral superiority (note the oxymoron “moral army”).”

    Speaking of oxymorons Herb Keinon of the J-Post suggests Israel rejects the idea of “conflict resolution” in favor of what he calls “conflict management”! Because peace is clearly not possible with the Arabs and because Obama, though well intentioned simply doesn’t get this.
    In trying to google a video of this I quickly I got hits dating back to the early 00’s.

  3. annie
    December 26, 2010, 12:54 pm

    i will stand by you lillian, any day and in any way i can. i yearn to hear what you have written it rings like truth in my ears.

    The torment now conscious, does not go away but accelerates on a daily basis for I am every Palestinian who is reviled, murdered and pushed from their homeland into occupied ghettos of despair. I am every refugee without a home.

    Racism is a disease. It spreads as a malignancy, a hatred that assumes another person is less than human.

    i have been afraid to say this but i too feel i am every palestinian. i can’t help it. i have not suffered as they have but until we are all free none of us are. they are paying the price and until we all realize their suffering is the suffering of mankind, that they are paying the price for us to step on their pain for our false sense of freedom, their suffering and their loss is our loss..there is no real freedom for any of us. it can all be swept away in some madness of an era in history, of any era anytime. we have to evolve. mankind must. palestinians are on the front lines. we owe them our gratitude for it is them fighting for all our freedoms. their loss is all our loss, mankinds.

  4. Mooser
    December 26, 2010, 1:33 pm

    “What we see in Israel is a distortion of Judaism”

    Sorry, Lilian, that won’t get you where you want to go. What we are seeing in Israel is the triumph of “Jewish values”, and will be every time you append “Jewish” to the word “values”
    If you are trying to tell me there is a set of Jewish values which are superior to the ordinary-or-worse values of others, please, don’t make me laugh! Tell it to the Zionists, who will immediately say “Right you are, baby, and if we don’t have a Jewish State, what will become of our vaunted values”?
    When you say something like “Jewish Values” you are putting yourself in a box from which Zionism is the only escape.

    And for Christs sake, what is so horrible about saying that Jews, like anybody else in the world, in a time of great stress and brutality, made a gross, murderous mistake, led by people who used Judaism’s (or “the Jews”) stress for their own ends. Why is that so impossible?

    • MRW
      December 26, 2010, 4:01 pm

      Mooser,

      There is as much wisdom in what you write here about the additional and unnecessary adjective to “values” as there is heartfelt common sense and genuine angst in Rosengarten’s plain-speaking cri de coeur.

      Yesterday — yes, I know this brands me as a weirdo — I spent the better part of the day reading the Obama admin 60-page “National Security Strategy” (May 2010) that I happened upon in an Air Force .mil site dealing with Future Studies. A section of it had to do with our “Values.” I read it because this was the first issue from the present government that delineates its view of our collective future. (Our future only really changes to the degree that our values expand, and improve, upon present circumstances, by design.) A critical point.

      Without going into my four to seven hours of reverie on the topic — mainly spent in a 24-hr bar looking like the standard face of Beethoven — I was struck that our “Values” have not changed, have not improved upon those that got us into our current mess. And they need to for things to change appreciably. You cannot design a new future if you fail to alter, or even realize or identify, what brought you to the party so far.

      • Citizen
        December 26, 2010, 6:42 pm

        Yep Mooser’s got a good insight, and MRW’s comment shows the same about “American values” as they are revealed in his referenced document. I trust MRW’s eyes had plenty of light, even in that 24-hr bar.
        When I read Lilian’s “Jewish values” I felt I knew what she meant, basically a traditional sense of justice, and empathy with the underdog bullied anytime, anyplace–not unlike traditional “American values” taught to our grade school kids, but even before my eyes moved on to Lilian’s next words, I thought of the oxymoronic phrase “Jewish and democratic.”

      • pabelmont
        December 29, 2010, 2:32 pm

        The people who arrogate to define “our” values! And cram them down our throats while we are still either basking in the pleasure of togetherness (that “our”) or fearful to stick out like a sore thumb by challenging the definers.

        Who was it that said, “We are in danger, we need a country of our own, it must be in Palestine (fortunately a country without another people), we must take it and later hold it against whatever quite reasonable and expectable opposition may spring up with as much force as necessary (or more force than that).”

        Whoever said it was defining Jewish “values” for 100 years or more.

  5. Mooser
    December 26, 2010, 1:39 pm

    “The toxic downfall of the Jewish dream of a safe homeland.”

    Gee, it couldn’t have simply been a colonial project, which took advantage of the Jews stress for the benefit of the Zionist Empire builders, huh. No, that wouldn’t be in accord with Jewish values. No, that would be just like ordinary people.

    And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a shave. I like the Occam’s double-edged razor, always give me a clean close comfortable shave.

    • James North
      December 26, 2010, 4:59 pm

      Mooser: Why not Occam’s single-edged razor? The simplest razor is the best.

      • eljay
        December 26, 2010, 5:11 pm

        “Nuances” and “narratives” razors have at least five edges. Batteries not included. :-)

  6. Les
    December 26, 2010, 5:08 pm

    It wasn’t a dream, but rather a myth which is far far more dangerous.

  7. MHughes976
    December 26, 2010, 6:21 pm

    I agree that we’re talking about a myth, though a myth in whose fateful devleopment Christians have played a considerable part. We’re also talking about a policy, operative since the Middle Ages and roaring away today, in which some Jewish forces tried to make themselves indispensable to the dominant Christian power. The consequences of the readiness of Jewish bankers to finance King Ferdinand’s conquest of Grenada, only to be cheated and robbed by that foxy potentate, are in some ways still with us.

  8. yourstruly
    December 27, 2010, 1:46 am

    On Retaking The Dawn

    until the last chain is broken

    none of us will be free

    but once that last chain is broken

    we’ll all be free

  9. RoHa
    December 27, 2010, 7:52 pm

    “I haphazardly identified as a “cultural” Jew. In this way I held onto some vestige of my Jewish identification.”

    Why? What’s the point?

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