18 November 2014

If Only This Were Achievable

It's a story that doesn't need images.

It's images, after all, we Jews are meant to destroy if true love among neighbors is to reign.

  • Abraham as a youth breaking idols.
  • Moses as an enraged youth, slaying a slave-driver; and again as a liberator, grinding a golden calf to dust.  
  • One might argue that those Jews who suffered persecutions under Greeks, Romans, and Christians refused to succumb to, bow down to, the image of Man or Christ as God.  

And the early Zionists, fed up with the homelessness and powerlessness of Exile, destroyed the image of the Wandering Jew by forgoing the theological mandate to wait patiently for the Messiah and chose instead to kickstart a new Jewish narrative by redeeming the land themselves--even with their own blood.

But re-entry to the stage of history has not been without its complications.  Zionist historiography, for those dispassionate enough to assess it as honestly as they can, has not explained away the sins inherent in the execution of contemporary power--and laudably, faced it head-on.  Criticality, self-reflection, taking responsibility for the unfortunate and sometimes abhorrent results of conflict and violence is what ought to differentiate us a species between those who more often choose good than evil and as a Zionist--even one who at times disagrees with the policy or direction of any particular Israeli governmental majority--this ability to allow for open disagreement, opposition, and dissent.

I don't know why I need to say any of this anymore--this Apologia for the Jewish right to live in freedom wherever we are:  Belgium, London, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, New York and again, today, horrifically, tragically, bloodily, in Jerusalem.

But here we go:  When Baruch Goldstein walked into a mosque in 1994 and killed 29 Palestinian Muslims worshipping God, Jewish and Israeli leaders condemned loudly and forcefully this abhorrent crime.  When Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and murdered this summer in Jerusalem, Jewish and Israeli leaders condemned loudly and forcefully this abhorrent crime.  So why is it, yet again, so difficult for Palestinian allies to condemn openly and unequivocally, the massacre that took place today in Har Nof?  Why the constant moral equivalencies?  Why the disgusting celebrations that are not then condemned by moderate Palestinian leaders and their friends?

Why, despite our perceived power and control of banks and media (as the anti-Semites love to say) is Jewish blood still so cheap, even in a city we have rightfully claimed for more than three thousand years?

The hypocrisy is stunning--if ever so briefly--because frankly, we're used to it.

As one such typical leader among so many in the Jewish community, do I really need to temper my condemnation of the murder of praying Jews this morning with an equally forceful condemnation of Israeli settlement policy if, as the record will show for so many of us, we have been demanding a two-state solution, tolerance, and co-existence, for our whole careers?  

There is blood hatred in the land.  There are Palestinians who hate all Jews and there are Jews who hate all Palestinians.  This, to our great shame and ultimate challenge, may never end.  Our job, in what brief time we have allotted to us on Earth, is to condemn, resoundingly, when it occurs, the unjust, senseless and brutal murder of innocents whenever it occurs.  Full stop.

Just look at this statement by those who dare call themselves the "Jewish Voice for Peace:"
Jewish Voice for Peace is deeply alarmed at the crisis building in Jerusalem over the last several weeks as terrible violence mounts. We mourn all the lives that have been lost, both Palestinian and Israeli. Early this morning, four Jews at prayer were brutally murdered in a Jerusalem synagogue and on Sunday a Palestinian bus driver was likely lynched.
It's always one for the other.  Four brutal murders equal one likely lynching. It's never enough to simply say that murder is wrong.  Period.  Everything gets weighed against everything else.  Had there not been the lynching, there would not have been the murders.  Am I exaggerating?

You decide:
We call on the Israeli government and its supporters to cease further calls to incitement and collective punishment. The international community must bring pressure to bear on the root causes of ongoing violence. Israel’s continual system of occupation, dispossession, and discrimination against Palestinians by its very nature puts the lives and dignity of all people in Israel and Palestine in jeopardy. 
The Israeli government continues to escalate state violence against Palestinians, as well as enabling  increasingly aggressive actions of settlers. In Abu Dis, Issawiya, and Silwan, to name just three neighborhoods, mobility is severely restricted, and residents are subject to collective punishment as homes and schools are covered in skunk water, which makes them almost unbearable to enter.  Last week a mosque and holy Qur’ans were torched in the West Bank village of Al Mughayir by Jewish individuals. The Israeli government continues to declare its intention to build more settlements; the Third Temple Movement, backed by government ministers, continues its provocations at the Temple Mount; laws that mandate 20 year sentences for stone-throwing and to declare Israel a Jewish nation-state, and threats to withdraw the citizenship of Palestinian citizens who protest are being proposed at the highest levels. 
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s declared intention to further entrench Israeli control over all of Israel/Palestine and pursue the collective punishment of Palestinians will bring neither peace nor quiet. Palestinians, whether inside Israel, in East Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza, face a future of continued inequality, discrimination, home demolitions, land expropriation, and military violence. A true and just peace for both peoples will only come when Israel is willing to commit to equality, freedom and justice for all people.  
The logic is clear:  Jew-hatred be damned.  It's all Israel's fault.

So goes the "Jewish Voice for Peace."  Cue the Orwellian laughter.

In the meantime, it won't be long before a kid breaks a tooth on candy being handed out to celebrate the murder of Jews and his dentist says, "Those Jews and their candy!"

It makes me sad to have lost friends on the Left these last few years; but their inability to simply see the hatred of Jews for what it is--even in the face of some Jews behaving badly or doing unjust things--is plain and simple inexcusable.  And a damn shame on them.

Our imageless Torah demanded long ago something I still have faith is true:  We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  If only this were achievable in our increasingly intolerant world.

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