Thursday, November 22, 2012

Myles Hoenig: Israel Is Not Jewish

Dissident Voice
November 21, 2012.

In 1982 I attended an international teachers’ Summer Institute over a period of eight weeks. It so happened to have fallen right in the middle of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The teachers were from all continents and of all faiths. Like the Director and myself, there was a Jewish contingency of teachers. The participants were East and West Europeans, Pakistanis, Africans, and there were Palestinians. Who amongst us really understood what a Palestinian was? The Sabra and Shatila massacres were to follow just a few short months later. As I spoke with the Director, the shame and embarrassment we both felt were palpable, and we were very clear to all who inquired that Israel did not represent us.

Nearly thirty years later Jews with a conscience are feeling the same. Only this time we are including extreme anger. The hijacking of Jewish ethos by murderous psychopaths in Israel, and their counterparts in the US, is unbearable. Although I can’t exactly say that I was raised in the most liberal of families in America, where racial and religious diversity were an asset, there was something there that taught us deep down that ‘never again’ means that for all people. When the most persecuted ethnic group outside of the Roma in Europe mimic their very tormentors regarding other people’s lives, one must take a stand and be heard.

The guilt trip that the enablers, like AIPAC and Christian and Jewish Zionists, lay on most Americans is masterful. Obama, the Congress, the media, academia all tremble at the very thought that just expressing an ounce of humanism would bring down the walls of Jericho on their careers. Many progressive pundits had hopes that this past election proved how little power AIPAC has now that it lost every race it slithered and slandered its way through. How short lived that was.

One can be blind to human suffering and play the geopolitical card. Israel is the West’s colonial outpost in a region of the world where its natural resources are coveted by imperial and capitalist powers. It doesn’t matter that Israel calls itself democratic and that the United States’ other allies in the region are oppressive and repressive to its own citizens. In the world of the 1%, human suffering barely rates as a line item on a spread sheet.

The extent of gross human rights violations in Gaza has certainly reached Nazi-like proportion. The enormity of collective punishment in Gaza equals the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto. Rockets fired into Israel proper that certainly cause terror amongst the inhabitants but does so little damage with such few casualties is being met with F-16 bombardments of Gaza neighborhoods. Firing indiscriminately into neighborhoods from the air is reminiscent of Guernica, where the Luftwaffe practiced aerial bombardment on a civilian population.

It is time to stop being afraid to equate Israel with the Nazis. Are they even Jewish? Nowhere in the Talmud is it taught that when your home is destroyed it is your right to take another’s and put them out. Yet the ethnic cleansing of Palestine from pre-Israeli statehood to the present stands as a stark contrast to what it is to be Jewish. Targeting women and children, families, water towers and other forms of infrastructure, is sheer barbarism. The brute racism by Israel’s leading figures, as supported by opinion polls of its people, can only be compared with Grand Dragons and neo-Nazis.

It is time for all people of conscience, especially Jews, to stand up and put a stop to the practices of such an insane country.

Comment: Somewhere around a dinner table in Florida a few months ago a close friend looked at me in earnest and said: "I read your blog from time to time and grin and bear.  It is hard for a Jew to read you most times."

I was not surprised by his honest protest.  We go way back and I would not question his love for humanity and respect for difference and human rights no matter what.

"The war against Palestinians is not about being Jewish.  If the Palestinians were Jews I would be saying the same things.  Israel does not have the right to use its religion and the history of the holocaust and the charge of antisemitism to oppress Palestinians.  The war on Palestine is not about religion.  It is a racist colonial war and I'm surprised that you are not removing your consent," I replied.

"You probably right but it is hard to see it so clinically.  Most Jews can't just remove the place of Israel inside of Judaism," he said before we moved the discussion.

I expect that it is hard for any Jew to read strong criticisms of Israel and its racist Zionist practices.  But the greater principle is not about sullying Judaism, it is about standing for the right of Palestinians to live peacefully.

The state of Israel in this context is at odds with Judaism.


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