Sunday, May 26, 2013

Does He Not Like Jews

My grandson pulled into the driveway.  His friend saw my bumper sticker;

                         FREE PALESTINE, END THE OCCUPATION,

and said, “What’s with your grandpa, does he not like Jews?”

It’s amazing that a desire to see an end to Palestinian suffering so immediately turns into Jew hating or anti-Semitism. Yet, all across America, the prevailing attitude is that Israel is so frail that the least question concerning Zionist conduct will destroy not only the nation of Israel, but Jews everywhere --- when in reality, the exact opposite is probably true.  Many, including myself, believe that if Israel does not listen to international criticism it may well destroy itself.

However, to address the question at hand,  The answer is: I do not like some Jews in spite of some very notable exceptions.  The exceptions are those Jewish leaders who sacrifice their relationship with their family, community and synagogue to call for an end to the occupation. Some get squeezed out of their jobs and have their professional life sabotaged because they defend the moral standards of their faith. I know and respect many Jews. They are “beautiful people.” 

On the other hand, some Jews, in spite of being intelligent, religious and fair minded in every other area of life seem to go totally blind when it comes to the atrocities of the State of Israel.  When they close their eyes to the illegal and unjust expansion of Israel into Palestinian lands, when they stand by, knowing that Israel is destroying homes, abusing children, bombing innocent people by the thousands, stealing water and uprooting Palestinian livelihood and when they generally defend Israel’s doing all it can to make life for Palestinians unbearable, then yes, you could say I do not like them.

I also do not like news reporters who act more like Israel’s defense attorneys than responsible journalist willing to share with the American audience what is going on in Palestine.  They speak endlessly about Israel’s “security” without ever mentioning the right of Palestinian security.  They use the word “terrorism” as if it is an exclusive product of Arabs in the Middle East without ever hinting that Israel and America might also be guilty of terrorism.  While dominating the news with Israeli rights, the term “occupation” is seldom mentioned or made visible. Yes, I do not like those who distort the truth about Netanyahu’s extremism, politicians of both parties who stand against Palestinian human rights or the Israeli lobby.

And I dislike even more the Christian Right, those super Christians who believe Palestinians have no rights because GOD wants it this way, saying “divine rights trump human rights”.  How ridiculous to think the god Jews call Yahweh chose them to be preferred above all others and gave the land of Palestine to the Jews as a sovereign, eternal and indisputable gift. Any questioning of the right of Israel to murder, displace, steal and torment the Palestinians is declared to be denying the authority of the Bible, and  a threat to world peace.  They say, “God wants it this way.”  This “theology” is not only declared by the likes of John Hagee and Pat Robertson, but believed by my neighbors who go to church every week to sing praises to the God of Israel.  Besides that, they declare that Jesus cannot come again except to the throne in Jerusalem and won’t come again until all that land is militarily controlled by Israel.  I want to ask, “How do they know?”  They will answer, “The Jewish Bible told me so.”

Nor do I like ignorant Americans who are proud of their ignorance.  A neighbor, also looking at my bumper sticker, said to me,  “I am not with you on this issue, big Tom.”  I invited him to lunch. We talked for an hour. I gave him a copy of Steadfast Hope, a short booklet with video concerning the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict published by the Presbyterian Church.  When we parted, he handed it back to me saying, “You might as well keep this. I am not going to read it.”  I drove home thinking, how can he be so certain of his position on such an important issue if he is unwilling to even hear the rest of the story?  I also thought that he is not alone. Many many Americans are ignorant when it comes to what is being done in their name and it is not their fault. They seldom hear anything but Israeli propaganda in the news, from their politicians or even from their pulpits. How else could they form another opinion, unless they are willing to read. 

I don’t even like myself for not standing up more to “Free Palestine and End the Occupation” for fear that it might cost me friendships or bring criticism from my neighbors. I want to be liked, so I, too often, hold my tongue, which allows others to assume that I agree with them when they make asinine statements like, “Israel has a right to defend itself,” or “It’s our duty to support the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Do I not like Jews?  I hate the betrayal of the moral ethics I have learned from the teachings of Jesus and the Jewish Prophets. I dislike myself for allowing propaganda to thrive unchallenged all around me.  Yes son, there is a lot to dislike. And as long as the truth is distorted and people are treated with cruelty, I invite you to join me in the things I do not like.

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                May 27, 2013