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

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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]

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