According to msn/encarta this is the definition of "Dilemma":
di·lem·ma [ di lémmə ] (plural di·lem·mas)
- situation with unsatisfactory choices: a situation in which somebody must choose one of two or more unsatisfactory alternatives...
Speaking as an American Jew, I want to address a dilemma that many of us face regarding our support for Israel (Zionism), our liberalism, and what is happening in Israel today.
Related to this, the other day a friend of mine sent me some a list of "Paraprosdokian" sentences. Paraprosdokian sentences were defined to me as:
A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax.
The Jewish population of America has long been a bastion of liberal and progressive thought in the United States. As one of the most oppressed minorities in the history of the planet our voting record shows us as overwhelmingly supportive of progressive causes within the American polity.
That oppression has also ensured that the overwhelming majority of American Jews support the concept, creation and current day existence of the State of Israel. We understand that in the end as Jews we have rely on ourselves for protection and support that no one, no matter how well intentioned will afford us on an on going basis. In the United States, (a country which I am proud to call my own and a country I would never turn on) Jews have been given historic freedoms and while I sincerely doubt that would ever end, given Jewish history in the world, knowing that Israel is there for myself and my children, I sleep a little easier every night.
SO.... what happens when Israel, (a country I whole heartedly support) does something that clashes with my own progressive values? What happens when the Israeli cabinet passes and recommends for a general vote a "Loyalty Oath"? A loyalty oath that moderate/liberal Israeli columbnist Carlo Strenger portrays as:
Loyalty oath is not about Arabs, it’s about hatred of liberal values and I agree with him?
Two of the "paraprosdokian" sentences my friend sent jumped out at me in relation to this dilemma the first being:
Ø I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
This seemed like the perfect analogy for American Jewish support for Israel. We all want to be left alone to quietly mind our business and support for a State while the "car being driven" is headed off a cliff. All the while, the "passengers" (the world, the U.S., the Palestinians, and the Israeli Civil Rights movement and supporters) are being taken along for the ride. We tout our overwhelming support for liberal ideas until it applies to us. Then things are different.
Here is an example from a blog that supports a different approach to Israel than I do (I will not name the blog or link to it...) but here is a comment and conversation:
As if the conspiratoid antisemites which inhabit all progressive swamps needed more ammo. What is wrong with that boy's head?
And Volley is kinda sane for a "progressive." But that's what Israel is up against; friends like that.
This comment shows "the dilemma" - how do we as liberal and progressive Jews address criticizing Israel in public? Being a diarist and participant in the Daily Kos I/P community has been an eye opening experience. Never in my life had I dealt with those who actually not only did not recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish National Homeland but who actively campaign against Israel's right to exist as a Jewish National Homeland. Any little criticsm made by myself and other supporters was/is seen as ammunition against the legitimacy of Israel. To do or say nothing is unconscionable yet I personally feel helping Israel's enemies is also unconscionable. As much as I disagree with the commentator that I cited... there is an element of truth to that post. And that fact bothers me.
Then there is this gem of a conversation from that same site:
Commentor xxxx: " I'm getting sick of these liberal faggots."
Commentor yyyyy: "I'm a liberal. That is, on the issues I tend to fall on the liberal side of the equation. I favor a woman's right to choose. I favor regulation of polluting industries and a tax code more favorable to the poor and middle class. I opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And I am hugely in favor of Gay rights.
Commentor xxxx: yyyy, I didn't mean "faggot" as in hating gays. I meant "faggot" as in like a little bitch, in an Un-PC way.
Commentor yyyy: No worries.
Oh well... no worries then... I mean what's a little keyboard tough-guy prejudice afterall - right (sarcasm here)?
Well, then there is this "paraprosdokian" sentence
Ø When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
And that tells me that in criticizing my own side when I feel they do wrong, I am doing the right thing. Keeping my mouth shut only encourages the keyboard tough guys to keep up with their attacks on democracy and dissent. At DKos I/P it seems many that criticize Israel won't dare criticize their own side. Well, that is their way. People on our side say "fight fire with fire"... but why do I want to be like my opponents?
I know from Krav Maga that punching and kicking a bag makes you tough.... against bags.... it is engaging an opponent that makes you stronger and tougher. It is dealing with your own weaknesses and strengthening them that beats them. Just ignoring them or worrying what opposition will do is the tactic of the fearful. Addressing them and fixing them is the tactic of the strong.
I don't want to die in my sleep like Grandfather (in the sentence above), I want to wake Grandpa up and make sure he doesn't drive off the cliff. Because imagine how sad it would be if he didn't wake up.