I'm Chosen; I'm Chosen Not
(I submit this to the reading public as an installment in an unofficial series of rants undertaken by a number of friends: 1, 2)
This is obviously prompted by the hellish escalation in violence in Lebanon and Northern Israel. I hate discussing Israel. Loathe it even. It's frustrating, migraine-inducing, and utterly untenable.
I hate it first and foremost because, as a Jew, I feel like I was willfully deceived about what Israel is and where it came from. I'm not sure if it was simply the shortcomings of my personal education or a general habit of propagandizing among the Tribe, but the history I learned was, to be generous, selective. For me, the claim to the Land of Milk and Honey evolved thusly:
- God chats up Abraham and they work out a deal.
- Everyone hates us for a while. Then they hate us so much that they make us slaves.
- Moses shows up and says come this way. He points at the border and dies, probably of guilt from the trouble he has wrought by bringing his people to Israel.
- Some temples are built and destroyed.
- We end up in Europe somehow. How do we know this? Because there are philosophers writing stuff (I know this less from Hebrew School than from the fact I was born in Maimonides Hospital) and inventing the academic industry of Talmudic scholarship. Plus we were hated some more, but by different people. This is to say nothing of the fact that we're all the ancestors of European immigrants.
- Suddenly the Holocaust happens and Jews can go back to Israel.
- A lot of people hate us for it, but it is the burden we bare.
This is not to say that Jews don't have the right to be there now. The people who are there now, who built the modern state of Israel, created an infrastructure, farmed the desert, and raised families, certainly do have some right. My gripe, or my initial one anyway, is that educated debates and, more importantly, diplomacy efforts have to acknowledge the historical context that is the conditions of Israel's formation. If any discussion should be stripped of the obfuscations of political correctness, as well as incendiary asymmetrical language of the generally anti-Arab West (a terrorist in some other land is a freedom fighter), it is this one. And don't mistake this for some stereotypical liberal nonsense about empathizing with the terrorist. Anyone who walks into a busy market dressed to the nines in explosives is a fucking murderer. Let them and the cowards who train them to kill burn in Hell. Still, everyone has blood on their hands here and the moral high ground has long since been leveled, so let's be honest about it and acknowledge the ample and well-distributed blame.
Assuming I could live in a world where a complete history of Canaan/Palestine/Israel was taught and a candid, unflinching lexicon for discussion was established, I doubt I could take a position on the issue anyway. The fact is that I don't believe there is a solution that is both just and socially and politically feasible. In my heart, I don't believe it can end. Neither side is going to give in. Both sides have enough funding and political support from across the globe to keep the fight going for far more than my lifetime. I am hard-pressed to fathom a non-apocalyptic resolution. The best I can come up with is a third-party administration which ensures the rights of both sides and gives them both access to the sacred sites through an equitable, but iron-fisted administration of the country. This magical impartial UN-like organization does not exist and, of course, would look too much like the entity that really got the fireworks going in the first place to ever work. No good.
When push comes to shove, I think the biggest problem is that, while I'm reticent to engage people in discussions about Israel, I feel it is my obligation to do so. This is what really kills me. How can anyone be an active and interested participant in the world without addressing this, the epicenter of the unrest in the world? I like discussing politics. It's what citizens of a healthy world should do. There's no way around it. If Americans participated in the marketplace of ideas, I can't see how we wouldn't be better off. I certainly can't see how two George W. Bush presidencies could have happened. So, I feel some ethical obligation to want to engage the subject more.
Finally, there is the nagging sense that my heritage means I should debate the issue and even defend both Israel's methods and America's uncritical support of Israel. Yes, it's not just Jewish parents who use guilt, it is Judaism* itself. With the emergence of groups such as Not In My Name, I don't feel particularly isolated in criticizing Israel and its relation to the Palestinians, but hard line Zionists still play dirty. They insinuate the ghosts of the Holocaust to justify Israel's actions. I think that's part of the dishonesty I felt from when I was younger. I don't recall any Palestinians' names on the design plans for the chambers at Dachau. Stop trying to get wrongs to add up to a Right. Just like that fucktard's "Roadmap" is no substitute for actually hands-on diplomacy, using the methods of your tormentors is no way to rationalize your actions or sway opinion to your side.
*By "Judaism" I am referring to an ethnic category rather than a religious one.