I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to say this for a few days now, but I’ve finally decided to just point you toward Amp’s How Not to Be Insane When Accused of Racism. Replace “racism” with “anti-Semitism” and “white person” with “non-Jew” as you read it. Cheers! (I’m refraining from linking to individual conversations because I don’t want to make this about individual people.)
Now, sadly, in most instances I’ve seen, the only people calling out problematic statements are the anti-Palestine hawks who drop into leftist discussions just to make trouble. Nevertheless, amidst their snarling, I’m seeing legitimate points. It’s fair to ask why, if anti-Semitism on the left is a real problem, more Jewish liberals and radicals aren’t speaking up. Explanation #1 is that anti-Semitism is not a real problem, and that every accusation is a cynical ploy to squelch debate. Explanation #2, which I think is more likely, is that many Jewish liberals are reading problematic statements, getting that knot in their stomachs, and then – fearing the usual chorus of “every time anyone tries to criticize Israel they’re accused of anti-Semitism OH WHY can’t we have a debate without being accused of anti-Semitism?!” – either shutting up or rationalizing it away.
Because yes, there are people out there equating any criticism of Israel’s policies with a desire to see Jews killed. As other writers have pointed out, it’s the same cowardly tactic as the Bush administration’s assertions that liberals hate America. But the “ah HA!” response above has become thoroughly knee-jerk. Please, just listen for one second. To paraphrase Jay Smooth, it’s what you said, not what you are.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been trying to figure out what to say about the ground invasion.
I was talking to my husband’s family a few days ago, and his father said that he didn’t think he’d see peace between Israel and Palestine within his lifetime. He’s about thirty years older than I am, but I realized then that I don’t think I’ll see peace within my lifetime, either.
Because this invasion isn’t about the rocket attacks, just like the settlement expansion isn’t about… well, whatever people think that’s about. This invasion isn’t about Hamas; it isn’t about defense; it isn’t about the welfare of Israel’s citizens. (Where, for example, is Gilad Shalit? Dead, I’m guessing. Heckuva job, Ehud.) In 1846, the murder of a US soldier served as justification for the Mexican-American war, which led to the annexation of what’s now the southwestern United States. In 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor served as justification for an escalation of antagonistic acts against Japan that the US had already been engaging in for some time. In 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center served as (an especially shaky) justification for invading Iraq. And now, in 2008, the rocket attacks will have served as justification to install a compliant government in Gaza and possibly reoccupy it. (Matthew Yglesias compares Israel’s ideal version of Gaza to an Indian reservation – semi-autonomous, but economically handicapped and politically powerless.) Should the Japanese have killed US civilians? No. Should Mexican guerrillas have killed Colonel Cross? No (if that’s what really happened). Should Al-Qaeda have attacked the twin towers? Do I even need to answer that? And should Hamas be killing civilians? Of course not. But anyone who claims this invasion is nothing but an act of defense must think the Israeli government is profoundly stupid.
(Cross-posted at Modern Mitzvot.)