So in the weeks that followed, there was a flurry of activity; on the behalf of Israel, on the behalf of the Jewish community, on behalf of the liberal community, and on behalf of the US government. It was almost as if these reactions were waiting to be queued up. First was the talk about "Oh boy, what is Bibi (Benyamin Netanyahu) going to do now?". Then Israel's response was vilified by American liberals as being too harsh. Then there were many in the Jewish community who were pissed off about President Obama's reticence on the issue. On a more personal note, all the while, I'm getting updates from friends who have sons and brothers fighting in the IDF. I just took it all in...in silence...and in sadness. What could I really say?
When I first stepped foot in Israel back in 2006, it changed my life; specifically in how I saw myself as a Jew. I could have never anticipated the difference between being and Israel, and being in other large Jewish enclaves....like Brooklyn, NY or my own very Jewish neighborhood back in Miami, FL. This was an entire country. A state created by Jews. A country that follows the rhythms and the intricacies of the Jewish calendar. Are my feelings "etho-centric"? You bet they are! However they aren't any more misplaced or misguided than the feelings that my Jamaican-born father has about his home country of Jamaica; or that my sorority sister has about the country her parents immigrated from...Greece.
I was born in the United States; and I'm proud to be an American. But I do not agree with all of the policies and actions of this country. The exact same thing can be said regarding my feelings towards Israel. Yet Israel (just like the US) has many wonderful qualities and a lot going for it. It is a democracy in a sea of Middle-East dictatorships and power-hungry monarchies. It has achieved amazing things in regards to infrastructure, economy and social development in the first 60 years of its existence. In spite of the issues surrounding the separation of religion and state, Jews can live their lives as Jews without fear of persecution.
It's not that I will not tolerate any criticism of Israel. However so much of the criticism is coming from a flimsy basis, as I blogged about here. People have such strong opinions, yet do not know crucial, basic information regarding Israel, the Palestinians, and their history; or even their current living situations. All they seem to know (or care) about is maps. Maps that show Israel "taking over" Palestinian land.
150 years ago, the map of the United States looked very similar. Bit by bit, this country took over land and territories by deals and fighting (when met with opposition). And what have the Native Americans been left with after it was all said in done. Nothing. I don't say this to justify Israel and its actions. I say this to point out that the political boundaries of countries are often drawn out of conflict.
As a Black woman, I've found that many members of the Black community harbor a lot of dislike for Israel. And many times, it's based off of ignorance and/or a hatred of Jews. Yesterday I found a random Google + post, penned by a Black man, that attacked Israel, and justified that the Israelis were evil because they believed in the racist rhetoric taught by our sages. When I responded with a link to a paper on the subject, which was written by a Black rabbi, showing that the "racist rhetoric" was actually coming from a bad translation taken out of context, he responded that both the rabbi and I have been brainwashed. Nevermind the fact that we know Hebrew while he does not. Nevermind that he didn't even understand that the "racist rhetoric" he quoted was written centuries before Jews were ever in the New World (of course he brought up the fact that Jews were involved in the slave trade), or in any position to subjugate others. Jews, like all people, have evil, racist members among their ranks (even though in this case, his "proof" wasn't racist at all). And yes, plenty of religious Jews believe that Jews have an inherent superior spirituality over non-Jews. However, the last time I checked, most religious doctrines teach something very similar! Again, not a justification. But let's apply the same standard to everyone, shall we?
And what about compassion? Hitler was an evil, racist, twisted man of Austrian/German stock. I don't think that anyone questions that. Yet what fool goes around with vehement blanket hate for the German people and those with German ancestry? If you are German, are you inherently evil? Is anyone calling for Germans to be exiled from Germany and forced to live in diaspora around the planet? There may be those with that sentiment out there. But they are very, very quiet.
And then there are my fellow liberals. Too many believe that Israel is draining too much in regards to money and resources from the U.S. They think that the U.S. endorses Israel's human rights' violations. They believe that the pro-Israel lobby is pushing the needs of a very few to the forefront, when there are plenty of other, larger groups that need the U.S.'s attention. I will not say that they are completely wrong in regards to any of those sentiments. In fact, it is true that Israel gets more foreign aid from the U.S. than any other country! But guess who's right behind them. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Egypt. Wow. So it's not like all the cookies are going to one kid in the room. As for human rights; I would LOVE to see people get 1/2 as riled up about all of the Black incarcerated and poorly defended American men in our prisons and in and out of our "justice" system. Can they get some attention? I mean they live (or did) right among us. Yet they are having their freedom taken away left and right, over petty crimes. I could go on and on...but I won't.
I would rather sit back and watch...and read, some accurate, non-biased news regarding the current conflict in Israel. I would like to see how the civilians (both Palestinians and Israelis) are faring. After all, they are just caught up in the crossfire. And yes, I want to see Israel kick Hamas' but. Last time I checked, Hamas supported terrorism as a means to achieve their goals. And didn't the U.S. declare a "War on Terror" themselves not too long ago? I mean, do we even realize who the enemy is...or even worse, can't we recognize evil when we see it?
(Quite a lot to ponder as we go into Tisha B'Av in a few days)