Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I have to be straight with you. I have made it a practice not to shirk any subject, no matter how potentially unpleasant it might prove to be for me. So here goes. It is not a very fashionable time to be a jew right now.

Oh, you might get by with admitting that you are jewish if you couple the admission with some statement demonstrating your hatred of zionism and your contempt for Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. But in some of the circles I run in, the whole jew thing is decidedly not de rigueur.

Now not everybody is bashing us these days but the liberals have definitely pulled up the stakes in our relationship. I imagine that we still have a good number of the born agains on our team and it is a wonder considering how we/I treat the evangelicals.

I will try to write this without getting into a huge litany of discussions regarding the history of the middle east. I will try to get by with a few basic suppositions and you can fill in the banks if you feel the need. My tribe settled into the middle east about 5700 years ago. We settled into a small country that bordered the Mediterranean. God suggested we slaughter a whole bunch of our neighbors, Hittites, Moabites and the occasional Midianite. We did so. We built two temples. In about 570 a.d. Muhammed showed up and wanted to join the family. We said no. Anyway, we were eventually vanquished by the Romans, dispersing ourselves around the globe. We had a difficult time securing real estate and faced inquisitions, pogroms, holocaust and a real feeling of not being wanted throughout the world. Pretty much everyone shit on us but the Dutch.  Austria, France, England (oh god yes England), Hungary, Germany, Estonia, there was a contest in the countries of Europe to see who could be more rotten and ruthless towards my people. Germany won, but not by so much. The French had a great time complying with their axis masters, sending many thousands back to the death camps from the refugee ships that they had stopped. That's if you believe all that holocaust stuff.

Around the end of the 19th century, under the direction of men like Herzl, jews starting filtering back to their ancestral homeland. My grandfather, escaping the Russian Army and a 20 year conscription landed in Israel in the early 1920's. They had no other choice, there was nowhere else to go. As novelist Amos Oz points out, Israel is a refugee camp for both the Palestinians and the Jews. Transjordan was created by the british to be a palestinian state but the 3% of the population that were Hashemites seized power. After an ethnic slaughter of jews in Hebron in 1929 by their Palestinian neighbors, the tribe realized that they needed an independent homeland. They fought for the land with their blood and secured their independence in 1949.


I was at dinner the other night when our dinner companion, a physician remarked, "They should have given the jews Long Island" as if unlike any other tribes, we were the only ones that didn't rate a real homeland. The Iranians are fond of telling anybody that will listen that there is too much 8th century Khazar blood mixed in to rate any real claim to the land. Anyhow I almost choked. Other politicians in the day suggested Uganda, Alaska and a variety of other locales. But you will give us Long Island, and we should be grateful. Why do we not have the same claim to our homeland that you would readily cede to the Chippewa? Rather patronizing. I realize that god is not a real estate agent but why should there be a separate standard for Israel and a jewish homeland than any other nation state?

I am not a kneejerk apologist for Israel, the land of my father. I lived there for two protracted periods, have felt katousha missiles rain around me, slept in a sealed room and a bomb shelter. I worked with Palestinians and Jews and liked some of both. Even got some of them to speak to each other, an event that spurned the interest of the Mossad and put me in a bit of hot water. I love the kibbutzim and the tough sabras of my youth but didn't care too much for the later more religious emigres. I do not have a blind eye to the calculations and finesse game that the Israelis excel at but which might ultimately prove their downfall. I think that they have played games on the settlements issue, tacitly agreeing to stop settlement growth and then playing a semantics game regarding "natural expansion". My feelings for the orthodox israelis is about the same as my feelings towards their conservative cousins in our country. I mostly abhor them. But that does not mean that I wish to abandon Israel.

I favor a wall and two states but the state of Israel must be a defensible state. Its enemies both internal and external have never renounced its destruction. Their dreams are not expansionist, merely a wish to continue to exist.


I see a lot of hatred for Israel lately in the liberal press and blogosphere. I recognize that Netenyahu can be an untrustworthy shit. He is a politician after all and politics is the art of the possible.

We were visiting some marijuana activists recently and the woman went into a tirade about the US government and their zionist accomplices. I was on an antiwar website today that was applauding our peace loving Iranian friends and engaging in a little Israel bashing. Unfortunately the level of scholarship and general knowledge about the situation there is quite skewed or nonexistent, and there is little point trying to have a rational discussion. But it is quite unfair at times. I had a man comment today on the blog piece I wrote some time ago regarding Carlos the Jackal and he said he considered him a hero. I read some people who were going off on Rand Paul this morning for succumbing to Israel and the AIPAC lobby. A flotilla of liberal activist boats is now engaged in an attempt to block the aid cutoff to Gaza and has refused to engage in a quid pro quo for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Because as we all know, Israelis are bad and Hamas is good. Israelis are brutal occupiers and Hamas freedomfighters are the true victims. Because Israel exists in a vacuum and the history and persecution of its people are an old and tired subject.

I asked my dinner companion why nothing is ever mentioned in liberal circles about the plight of the kurds, or the abuses amongst the arabs like the massacre at Hama or Black September or the gassing of the Kurds or the millions killed in internecine conflict amongst the arab peoples. Why always bash Israel? She went into a defense of Chomsky, and an explanation how the American Israel war machine creates these little tete a tetes for purposes of practice and commerce. And she said that people expect more from democracies. I had asked her to name an Arab democracy. She couldn't, but they get more of a free pass. There are Israeli Arabs in the Knesset, how many jews or christians hold office in the arab lands? The old mid east double standard. Lovingly delivered by Michael Lerner and Human Rights Now and a whole host of other liberal organizations who love to chastise the jewish state but fail to emit a peep about the repression and barbarity rampant in the arab world.

But somehow Israel is perceived as an imperialist power in the middle east, desperately trying to hang on to what few dunams they still possess. They are the oppressors of the people in Gaza, who with sympathies from their english allies, pray for weapons to deliver themselves from the occupier. Their military unit hides itself behind the civilian population and then cries foul at the retaliation to the rockets. Innocent civilians die, on both sides, Israeli rockets, palestinian suicide bombs. Entwined in a dark dance that threatens to decimate everything in its wake.


Of course, now it is accepted to refer to the Israelis as Nazis and point out all the lessons they learned from their once concentration camp masters. I think that non jews find this past time delicious, putting these supposed smart people on notice for their perfidy. Makes them feel morally superior.


I don't think that people who have never visited Israel can either appreciate how small the country actually is, or the amount of enemies it is surrounded by. Take your best shot at it but don't forget about them being masters of the endgame. We will not knowingly walk into our own annihilation. You already tried that. Never again.