Emma Thompson (credit: CC Caroline Bonarde Ucci, Wikipedia)
The Jewish problem of our times is psychological denial having to do with our relations to others: denial of our social status in the U.S., denial of human rights atrocities in Palestine.
Here are three sides of the same coin:
1. From a letter to Emma Thompson, the British actress who has endorsed a boycott of the Israeli Habima Theater, from an anonymous English Jew. I got it from an Israel lobbyist. This is pure craziness:
There is another aspect to your downright nasty and disingenuous call for a boycott. As Jews we remember another boycott started in 1933 in another country, when ugly mobs stood outside Jewish shops and Jewish performers were barred from performing. We all know how that ended. Tell me what is the difference between you and those previous groups calling for expulsion of Jewish performers? From where I am standing as an English Jew, they are one and the same.
So this person is accusing Emma Thompson of seeking the extermination of Jews because she wishes to protest human rights abuses in Palestine...
2. The other day a friend of my wife came to visit. She was big in print journalism, now she's got a new website. I was coming in and out of the house, at work on a project, but I stopped for a moment to have the pleasure of talking with her about the internet and all the new journalism issues involved: the writing style on the web, the relationship of a journalist to the readers and to other sites, and the degree to which one can or cannot affect one's reputation online.
Then I said, "Well at my website--" And she waved her hand and said, "I don't really want to talk about your website."
My feelings were hurt. But she is Jewish: she stands for the tribe, she is more conventional than I am that way. I forgave her, somewhat, by remembering my first visit to Hebron in 2006 with Breaking the Silence. The van was filled with Israelis, good Israelis. We had just seen videos of settlers stoning Palestinian girls walking to school and I said to my translator, What do Israelis think about this? She said, "They don't know about this." And two of the Israelis turned in anger. Both said, "They don't want to know about it!"
My wife's friend doesn't want to know what is being done in our name, for she knows deep inside, knowledge would demand action, would require too much rearrangement of social conditions.
3. Emerson understood the impotence of denial of gross injustice. He wrote the following in his journals in late 1859, reflecting on the hanging of John Brown in Virginia for the raid on Harpers Ferry:
The Resistance to Slavery. It is the old mistake of the slaveholder to impute the resistance to [anti-slavery leaders] Clarkson or Pitt, to Channing or Garrison, or to some John Brown whom he has just captured, and to make a personal affair of it; and he believes, whilst he chains and chops him, that he is getting rid of his tormentor; and does not see that the air which this man breathed is liberty, and is breathed by thousands and millions; that men of the same complexion as he, will look at slaveholders as felons who have disentitled themselves to the protection of law, as the burglar has, whom I see breaking into my neighbor's house; and therefore no matter how many Browns he can catch & kill, he does not make the number less, for the air breeds them, every school, every church, every domestic circle, every home of courtesy, genius, & conscience is educating haters of him & his misdeeds.
I need to repeat his words: You cannot personalize this to Emma Thompson. The air we breathe is liberty. And every home of courtesy, genius & conscience is educating haters of Israel & its misdeeds. Today that is Israel's problem in the world. I urge American Jews to wake up.