One of the dangers of being an outspoken Zionist who is proud of my Jewish and Israeli heritage is that I find myself being put in a position where I end up defending Israel in what has become a truly hostile world. I've done that, in a small part, with this blog over the last nine years. More recently the main focus has been social media, particularly Facebook, where a war of words on not only Israel but on the Jewish people continues daily.
One phenomenon I've seen repeatedly on Facebook is the "As a Jew..." This is a person who identifies themselves as Jewish and uses that as a means of somehow strengthening their attack on Israel, at least in their own view. These attacks are often accompanied by the same old anti-Semitic canards about Jews controlling the media, Western governments and the banks. When you quiz these people on their Jewish identity many will admit to being atheists or otherwise secular, and in some cases their Jewish heritage is limited to one grandparent or great grandparent. Others do claim to have been raised Jewish but to have found the truth in their oh-so-liberal views. They, in general, have no knowledge of Judaism.They know nothing of Jewish history or religion or culture. However, because of a Jewish ancestor they feel justified in speaking for the real, moral, honest, decent Jewish people and feel equally justified in dismissing those of us who do not share their views as racist monsters.
Back in 2006 I shared my response to an anti-Israel, anti-American rant by a young American woman on one of the LinuxChix lists. The support she received from the movers and shakers in the organization at the time is the reason I left. For the "progressive" American left, and indeed for liberals around the world, hating Israel is seen as the morally correct position. The "As a Jew..." adopts this sort of their liberalism as their religion and they defend these beliefs with a zealous passion, abandoning what tiny little connection they may have had to their Jewish roots in the process.
What follows is a response I wrote to an "As a Jew..." today. I've removed names to protect the guilty:
You start from a lot of false assumptions and go downhill from there. First, being a Zionist Jew does not mean hating Arabs. Spend some time in a city like Haifa, where Jews and Arabs live side by side, and where they are good neighbors and friends. Then tell me if being a Zionist means hating Arabs. Hugh clue: it does not.
Second, you presume the Palestinians are underdogs and as someone who has very liberal views overall, that makes them worthy of your support. First, get out of the liberal echo chamber. I know what it's like because I'm an old peacenik and I used to be in there. Democracy Now! or AlterNet or ThinkProgress are not objective sources. They are left wing propaganda, much as Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart or Free Republic are right wing propaganda. The one thing all these sites on both the right and left have in common is that they have chosen sides. They won't let facts get in the way of their agenda. You've bought into the leftist agenda which, just like the right wing agenda. bears no resemblance to reality.
The Palestinians are suffering, but not primarily because of Israel. The issue is NOT and HAS NEVER BEEN occupation or oppression. Take this from someone who's father didn't celebrate the great victory of 1967. His words: "Occupation. Bad business." He was right, but mostly not for the reasons you think.
In 1948 80% of the Jews in Palestine were first generation immigrants. So were 80% of the Arabs. They came from neighboring countries to take advantage of economic opportunity created by Jewish immigration. There was nothing wrong with that. However, there was no national identity called Palestinian in the Arab world until after Israel was created. That national identity was created as a weapon against Israel. To be considered a Palestinian refugee by the U.N. you simply had to be in Palestine for two years prior to 1948. Tell me, if you go work somewhere, anywhere in the world for two years are you entitled to citizenship? Of course not.
So... for 65 years these Arab people, Egyptians like Yasser Arafat, Syrians, Jordanians, Iraqis, Lebanese, (Saudi) Arabians have been held hostage in squalid camps and denied basic rights because they are children or grandchildren or great grandchildren of people who worked in British Palestine to be used as a weapon against Israel. Is that Israel's fault or the fault of their real oppressors?
There was no ethnic cleansing, no expulsion in 1948. The Arab leaders told the Arabs to leave and then return when the Jews were pushed into the sea. That never happened. Did some right wing paramilitary groups on the Jewish side want to push the Palestinians out? Of course. Did most of the Arabs who fled ever see these groups? No. Did the Arab side exaggerate dangers to get their people to leave? Yep, as did the paramilitaries. Those groups were disbanded or absorbed by the Israeli government after independence. That government begged the Arabs to stay.
The Palestinians have been abused, but largely by their Arab brethren. No, Israel is not faultless. No, Israeli policy is not perfect. Far from it. However, it is NOTHING like you and your friends portray it. You found some far left Israeli friends to agree with you. That's nice, but it's not mainstream Israeli thought at all.
The main thing you need to understand: the Palestinians are not underdogs. They are part of the 300,000,000 hostile Arabs that surround tiny Israel. They have been offered peace and independence time and again and have turned it down. They are NOT interested. Their interest, and I am talking about the leadership now, is to destroy Israel. Ordinary Palestinians include many fine people who would love to live in peace. Unfortunately they have absolutely no say in the matter.
You are not supporting the underdog. When you support the Arabs you support the oppressors who have already driven nearly a million Jews and most of the Christians and other minorities out of their respective countries. You are not fighting colonialism. You are supporting the colonizers, the Arabs, against the indigenous Jews. You are betraying your own people for liberal ideology which does NOT accurately reflect history or the facts on the ground.