Monday, April 20, 2009

A Culture Of Persecution

First, let me state I am Jewish, and a Zionist. I was raised surrounded by survivors. My grandmother was saved by being hidden in a trunk, my maternal great-grandparents perished in Treblinka. My step-father’s best friend had a number tattooed on his arm; his wife was shot in the head in front of him. In college, my best friend’s mother survived Auschwitz. Her parents and sister were shot in front of her; they are Ukrainian Catholic.

My mother told me when she was a child, people would shout zydie and Jude at her. I have had my share of anti-Semitism thrown in my face.

I am not a naïve, liberal Pollyanna pushover, but I believe in social justice. On one Jerusalem Post forum, someone responded to my post with “you’re so liberal your brains have fallen out.” I’m still bemused from that one.

And here’s where I’m going to get blasted: we have a culture of persecution. Our holidays and observances revolve around persecution. What would we do with our time, if we didn’t spend it licking our wounds?
Biological warfare? How about this: Captain Ecuyer wrote to Colonel Bouquet "Out of our regard for them (two Indian chiefs) we gave them two blankets and a handkerchief out of the smallpox hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect."
General Philip Sheridan in 1869: "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." Sound familiar? How many streets are named after Sheridan, and how many monuments for him are there? American Indians went through the same genocide, documented best of all by Dee Brown in Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, and their culture does not revolve around that.

We don’t proselytize, and so we’re shrinking – we have not recovered from the Final Solution. In fact, a lot of us reject converts. News flash: Rachel was a convert. We should proselytize among the unchurched, and we should welcome those who want to join us. Every other religion has that figured out.

And whom do we welcome uncritically? Evangelicals. Evangelicals’ core belief is Armageddon, which sounds like the Final Solution, and who fund Jews For Jesus. How’s that for irony? We’re BFF with the people who love Israel, but hate Judaism and Jewish culture. Oh sure, they pump a lot of donations and tourist dollars into the Holy Land - and then stab us in the back while they are smiling at us. Notice they never say Israel? It’s always the Holy Land. They can’t bring themselves to say it.

Don’t believe me? How’s this from Pastor Hagee, who is a closet anti-Semite:

He told his congregation that Hitler was Jewish, that the Star of David and the menorah is on the back of US paper money, that Jews control the monetary supply, and every canard in the catalog. But he loves Israel – I mean the Holy Land. Hagee wants to open an office in the Holy, er Israel, but hasn’t because he will not sign an agreement not to proselytize. He sure loves us. In fact, Hagee along with other Evangelicals, is pouring gasoline on the fire because of their twisted prophecies. Well, I’m not going to be a player in their sick theatre.
Here’s where this is going: when, not if, Israel is forced to vacate the West Bank, Evangelicals are going to funnel their donations to the settlers, and foment an armed insurrection.

I want Jewish culture to flourish, and it cannot when we mistreat others. What was done to us, does not give us the right to do it to others. I am not speaking against self-defense, but because of what happened does not give us license to pound Gaza into rubble. We, of all people, have engaged in collective punishment. We, of all people, are being accused of war crimes. We cannot afford to lose another generation.
Nelson Mandela, in what was seen as the ultimate act of reconciliation, invited Percy Yutar for lunch in 1995, a year after he was elected the country's first black president – despite Yutar’s attempt to hang Mandela. We should take Mandela and Desmond Tutu as our models.

How would it be received if every time the government of Congo did something outrageous, they said ‘you can’t criticize us because of King Leopold.’? Or, South Africa said ‘you can’t say a thing after apartheid.’ Because when Israel is chastised, that’s exactly what we do.

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