Part Two is here.
First, let me state I am Jewish, and I am a Zionist. Before readers start cursing me, let me state that Zionism is simply the belief that Jewish people should have their own homeland, their own refuge. I was raised surrounded by survivors, and I agree. Germans have their Fatherland, Russians have their Motherland, and now the Kurds have a de facto Kurdistan.
What's left out is a subset of Arabs - the Palestinians.
What makes me embarrassed to say I am a Zionist, is what the Settlers, the Israeli right wing, and their evangelical amen chorus are doing in the name of Zionism. What Germans did to us, some of us are doing to Arabs. Arabs in Israel are treated the way black people in the States used to be treated - I've seen it, and I have tried to stop it, and gotten the same treatment civil rights workers in the States got.
Arabs are not 1930s Germans, and it is vile to make that comparison. Among the Arabs I know, I have not met one Jew hater. But among the Anglos I have contact with, I have met plenty of anti-Semites. Jews were far better off in the Ottoman Empire than they were in Europe, where they lived in constant fear. There is not one Muslim nation which built a concentration camp. That was Christian Europe's contribution to history. Among the Arabs I have met, no one has denied Israel's right to exist - they simply want social justice for all Arabs, and I am on their side.
We of all people know better. We, of all people, are engaging in pogroms against Arabs. The Occupation, which has gone on since 1967, is debasing us all. We, of all people, stand for social justice. We should be using Dr. King, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi as our models - not 1933 Germany.
We learned collective punishment from Germany, and we have been good students. Judaism does not believe in collective guilt, nor in collective punishment - and that is what we have been doing. Judaism stands for social justice, and it has been hijacked by a noisy band of fanatics, who assassinated Rabin for daring to shake hands with Arafat. And as far as hands go, Menachem Begin had as much blood on his hands as Arafat, so we can stop the righteous indignation.
Here is what happened in Gaza, which has gotten lost in the noise. After the pullout, Bush insisted on elections in Gaza. He is an evangelical, and has a twisted view of the world. Hamas ran on an anti-corruption platform, and after winning, they marched Fatah members out of Gaza at gunpoint. So much for democracy. Hamas then instituted draconian Shari'a. Next, they grabbed an IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit.
Israel demanded him back; Hamas said only for a prisoner exchange. Israel then decided to starve Gaza into submission. They closed the border crossing, cut off electricity, withheld customs duties, and harassed supply ships.
Hamas then started firing rockets into Israel. Then Israel had its version of Shock And Awe. Two days before Obama's inauguration, Israel declared its goals had been met, and withdrew along with stopping the bombing campaign. Of course - with Obama as president, the US was no longer going to give Israel carte blanche.
During WWII, there wasn't any question of who was right, and who was wrong. This is one time in history when both sides are wrong, and there are plenty of wrongs to go around. There are enough wrongs from all sides to fill an entire library. And I say: enough. Enough of this madness, which has degraded into clinical insanity. Everyone remembers what your grandfather did to my grandfather. It's time to stop licking our wounds. Both sides are living under siege, and both sides are going clinically insane - which is why I am glad I live in the States.
Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia, have said it best of all: go back to the 1967 borders, and we will together form an economic union like the European EU. And the Israeli right wing, egged on by evangelicals, said hell no.
King Hussein -may he rest in peace- in his wisdom, said he would give up his claim on Jordan's West Bank, so that could become Palestine. And the Israeli settlers, financed by evangelicals, said hell no. Apparently, the West Bank was promised to the settlers in some book, written several thousand years ago. I have a deed to my loft, but it was issued by the Philadelphia government, which carries a lot more weight than what the settlers are basing their claim on.
I've talked to some evangelicals, who told me with a perfectly straight face, that the West Bank was promised to the settlers, in the Bible. So I guess it's a closed case.
I make this warning: the mistreatment of Arabs will haunt all of us. No one is going to put up with the continual trashing of civil rights. By denying Arabs their civil rights, by heaping indignities upon Arabs, we are losing our dignity, we are debasing ourselves. Denying social justice to Arabs, denies social justice to ourselves.
You have been warned.