Saturday, December 27, 2008

Taking sides

There are times when even the most moderate of voices has to take sides. This is not one of those times. It's amazing just how many bloggers I respect have pissed me off today. And some people I don't know have pissed me off more than that.

Someone I don't know, somewhere I won't say, writes:
The family memories of the Holocaust (and the pogroms before that) pain me greatly.
Bull-fucking-shit. These things fucking don't pain you in the least except that it's incovenient for your Jews-are-evil stories. Otherwise, you wouldn't be retelling the same fucked up propaganda about scheming Jews who manipulated history. "Infiltration operations"? WTF?!

The world, since organizing itself into nation states, still fucking can't find a way to make space for Jews. If assimilation or multiculturalism ever had a chance, that ended when political power was tied to nation-states. So take your "one-state solution" back to Hitler-just-went-too-far-land.

Somewhere else, someone I usually agree with writes:
[Israel] should also strive to kill as many political and military leaders as it can.
I doubt -I hope- in a different state of mind he'd include that word "political." Frankly, I'm not in favor of any call for killing "as many" anything. But more than that, though politicians are tied into military decisions, if people aren't military targets they just aren't military targets.

And someone else, I can't repeat what was said too closely because that person will probably read this. But it's right up there with "Those Shylock Jews are all racists." How can you claim to be for inclusive politics when the title of your post is (paraphrased) "They're just not like me." How can you repeat that Christian slur of vengeful Jews, when you know that's a Christian interpretation of Judaism.

This is not a time for taking sides. This is a time for profound humility, for admitting that we can't solve this ourselves. There's no way in hell I can support the Israeli attack on Gaza. What can it possibly accomplish? But I can't bring myself to condemn Israel more strongly than that. There are a million asymmetries here. One is that Israel is more powerful and bears a greater burden of restraint.

But another is that Israel does a far better job of living up to that burden. It doesn't work here to say you're against the rockets coming from Gaza only when someone accuses you of being one-sided. Sorry, that's not remotely a pro-peace position.

And if you think this is a simple story of oppressors and oppressed, you haven't been paying attention.

2 comments:

modernmitzvot said...

"And someone else, I can't repeat what was said too closely because that person will probably read this. But it's right up there with "Those Shylock Jews are all racists." How can you claim to be for inclusive politics when the title of your post is (paraphrased) "They're just not like me." How can you repeat that Christian slur of vengeful Jews, when you know that's a Christian interpretation of Judaism."

This might be presumptuous of me, so if you weren't referring to my post, I apologize. If you are, though, I feel like you could have engaged me directly on this.

When I used the phrase "eye for an eye," I was thinking of the broader understanding of the phrase, not the specifically Jewish one. As in, you hit me, I hit you back. Looking at the post you linked to (which came back to me as I was reading it), I was able to see how it was an ignorant choice of words in a Jewish context - but I wish you'd told me that directly.

The title is referring to the myth of Israel as representative of the Jewish world - not racist Shylock Jews who are "just not like me."

Again, though, if I'm totally misunderstanding you and you weren't referring to my post, I apologize.

-Julie

Matt said...

You're right, Julie. I was referring to you. I doubt I'll hold it against you, but I'm not convinced here.

There's an old Christian myth that the Jewish God is a vengeful God. And that Jews are vengeful (see Shylock). It probably solidified ("in which one Israeli eye is worth an infinite number of Palestinian eyes" - Roth adds the same exclamative in my other post) in the Israeli/Palestinian debate during the War of Attrition, when, whether they were right or wrong in their methods, Israel was responding to credible threats of genocide.

You can't take hold of that myth and then claim you were misunderstood, that you meant vengeful in one way and not in another.

And they are your community. The people most strongly calling for attacks on Gaza were the residents of Sderot, once one of the most dovish of Israeli towns. But today it's a town where half the kids have PTSD and two-thirds have significant symptoms of PTSD. It's a town where the parents just want to protect their kids, where they just want peace but they're flustered because they can't make peace on their own. After years of rockets coming down, raising their kids in bomb shelters, they feel like they're out of options. If you insist they're just a vengeful people, that's your problem.