Tag Archives: Holocaust

I’m not pro-Palestinian

“I’m not pro-Palestinian.”

I uttered those words a few nights ago in response to a very good friend from Gaza who was sharing his thoughts about the characteristics of the activists who are “pro-Palestinian.”

I realized right away how provocative my words sounded, and how they might be misunderstood.  I also knew why my friend from Gaza labeled me “pro-Palestinian.” He’s like a son to me.  If I could shield him from the atrocities he and his family have experienced at the hands of the Israelis, and particularly the Israeli military, I would.

But my love, concern and compassion for my Palestinian friend, and many other Palestinians, doesn’t make me “pro-Palestinian.”  The label doesn’t fit me because being “pro” anything often implies one is also against something, in this case Israel and Israelis.  The world is not black/white, good/evil, wrong/right.  It’s so much more complex than that.

Being “pro-Palestinian” might imply I’ve selected a tribe to cheer for — the Palestinians — and rejected the other tribe.  In fact, I reject tribal allegiances altogether.

Being “pro-Palestinian” often raises issues of “loyalty” and “deference” and “submission” to the Palestinians and to whatever framing of the “conflict” they’ve chosen.  I’ve learned this by watching and listening to self-identified “pro-Palestinian” activists over the years.  My loyalty is not to Palestinians or to any of their many factions. I will learn from them, but I won’t defer or submit to their framing of the “conflict.”

On the other side ….

Friends, family and colleagues who self-identify themselves as Zionists or “pro-Israel” are hurt and angry that I’m not in their camp. I don’t accept their framing of the “conflict” and I reject their tribal loyalties. If I’m not with them, I must be against them, is the subtle message they often share with me.

One Jewish “pro-Israel” American rationalizes my odd opinions about Israel-Palestine by telling me — “You’re not Jewish, you’re not Palestinian, so of course you can’t understand what’s really going on over there.” — That compartmentalizing might comfort her unease but it only demonstrates how people need to understand the world by putting people in boxes.  I refuse to do that.

Instead, I seek to understand the complexities and the gray shadows cast in the region.  I try to shine a light on the things I learn, and on the things that the mainstream media callously and deliberately ignores.

I try to understand the “other” — both Israelis and Palestinians. I try to learn empathy.

This 28 minute NPR broadcast (March 22, 2016) “What happens when you empathize with the enemy?” is powerful. My Palestinian friends who reject “normalization” may reject the ideas shared by the Israeli soldier and the Palestinian professor regarding empathy but for everyone else, I think there is alot of wisdom here for open minds on both sides.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/471283599/471350322

This week on Hidden Brain we ask, what happens when you empathize with your enemy? Why does reaching out to another tribe make our tribe so angry? We talk to Avner Gvaryahu, a former paratrooper in the Israeli army, who angered his fellow Israelis for talking about his work as a soldier. And we talk with Mohammed Dajani, a Palestinian professor who now lives in the United States out of fear for his life. His crime? He led a group of Palestinian students to Auschwitz to try to help them understand the Holocaust. We also share an excerpt of a one-man play about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Aaron Davidman.

 

Thanks to Libby and Len Traubman from Palo Alto, California for alerting me to this NPR broadcast.

 

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Filed under Peaceful, Spiritual - Religion, Uncategorized, Video

“Why can’t the Palestinian leaders build a state like the Zionists did after the Holocaust?”

“Why aren’t the Palestinian leaders building a country like my parents, survivors of the Holocaust and millions like them, did with Israel, instead of building tunnels, shooting missiles and subjecting their people to untold horrors?”

I gasped when I read this question sent to me by a well-educated, university professor in Israel. It was a serious question, deserving a serious response.

Where to begin?

To dissuade my friend of any notion that Palestinians might be incapable of building a country, I’ll remind him of the cities, industry, agriculture, schools and civic life that flourished in Palestine before my friend’s parents and other Zionists arrived. Please watch this 10 minute video.

When I returned from Gaza two years ago, I wrote my layman’s version of the history of Palestine here and here. Israel’s 67 years of dispossession, ethnic cleansing, and occupation of Palestine — as well as current events, including the Palestinian resistance and Israel’s successive military operations in the West Bank and Gaza — can only be understood in the context of the Nakba. I believe my Israeli friend’s question is sincere because either he doesn’t know about the Nakba (past and present) نكبة or he has decided to ignore and minimize the ongoing impacts of the Nakba.

I credit Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky for opening my eyes about the Nakba.

In the late 1980s, a group of Israeli historians, including Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris, began to challenge the commonly accepted version of Israeli history based on newly declassified Israeli government documents. Morris called them the New Historians. They went head-to-head with the traditional historians who cast Israel as the peace-seeking victim in a hostile Arab world, the David-and-Goliath narrative. The New Historians shared a more nuanced history of the exodus of the Palestinians and the reasons for the persistent political deadlock with the Arab states in the region.

Professor Ilan Pappe’s book “Ethnic Cleansing” was my education about the Nakba. I hope my friend will read it. In this video, Pappe describes in great detail about the Zionists who committed the Nakba crimes. He urges us to know the names of the perpetrators, the victims, the places and events of the Nakba. Pappe also speaks about the “conspiracy of silence” by the international community in 1948. Please watch.

So . . . . . why can’t the Palestinian leaders do what the Zionists have done (are still doing) in creating the State of Israel?

  • If my friend’s parents and other Zionists had decided to live peacefully side-by-side with the indigenous population when they arrived in Palestine, as Jews, Christians and Muslims had lived for many years, we would certainly be watching very different events unfold in the Middle East today.  The footage in this short clip shows a time when Palestinians of all faiths lived and worked side by side in harmony.
  • If the Zionists believed in a democracy that values plurality rather than an apartheid regime that values Jews over non-Jews, we would certainly be watching very different events unfold in the Middle East today. Saree Makdisi explains apartheid very well here and in his book “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.”

“Apartheid” isn’t just a term of insult; it’s a word with a very specific legal meaning, as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1973 and ratified by most United Nations member states (Israel and the United States are exceptions, to their shame).

apartheid wall

  • If Israel had not waged three military campaigns in Gaza over the past six years, Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012) which I witnessed first hand from the ground in Gaza, and the most recent Operation Protective Edge (2014), and if Israel lifted the multi-year siege and blockade of Gaza, and if Israel allowed Palestinians in Gaza to travel freely to pursue educational opportunities, visit family, accept jobs, seek medical attention, etc., — if none of these inhumane actions had occurred and were still occurring — we certainly would be witnessing a vibrant economy in Gaza with the next generation of Palestinians living in hope, not despair. Instead, the U.N. is predicting that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Some of my blog posts from Operation Pillar of Defense are here, here and here.

I can hear your retort now, my friend.  It sounds something like this.  (I hope you are not offended, but I’ve heard the same words spoken seriously by many, many Jews.)

albert_einstein_quotes2

So long as the Zionists maintain the brutal occupation and dehumanization of the Palestinians, as they have for decades, resistance will continue.  Resistance in the form of political resistance at the United Nations, resistance at the International Criminal Court, cultural resistance such as teaching the next generation the Palestinian traditions, economic resistance, non-violent resistance in Budrus, resistance with the pen, and violent resistance.

I’ll conclude with Noura Erakat’s well-reasoned explanation of why Israel’s occupation is illegal. As an attorney yourself, I hope you will give Ms. Erakat the time and respect she deserves by reading her paper.

I appreciate your question which initiated this blog post, and I hope we will continue this discussion. Even more, I hope the occupation and dispossession of Palestinians from their land, which your parents and other Zionists started so many years ago, will come to an end very soon.

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Nakba, nonviolent resistance, Occupation, Peaceful, People, Politics, Settlers, United Nations, US Policy, Video

A young Zionist’s anger and fear

A friend of a friend posted the following message on Facebook. I skimmed through it quickly at first and shook my head saying “She’s wrong, she’s wrong, she’s wrong!” And then I was going to discard it.

Something took me back for a second look, a slower read.

Instead of trying to “educate” this young Zionist Jew, and respond to her inaccuracies, I wanted to feel her pain and anger. She has a lot of both.

Please read her words, not with judgment or criticism, but with care and concern. She obviously can’t hear the pain or anger of the Palestinians in Gaza today, or the frustration of the activists who are supporting the Palestinians, but perhaps we can hear her.

I am sick and tired of having to defend my right to be alive. The world stood by silently as 1/3 of the Jewish world population was systemically exterminated during the Holocaust. Not because they didn’t know what was happening. It was because they did not care. Israel was created because Jews realized that if ever a people would try and finish the job, the world would again be silent. It’s happening now. Jews worldwide are under attack. Do me a favor friends, IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE THAT EVERYTHING ISRAEL IS DOING RIGHT NOW TO DEFEND ITSELF AND THE JEWISH (AND ARAB) POPULATION THAT LIVES THERE, PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM YOUR LIST OF FRIENDS BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT TO SEE OR HEAR ANY OF YOUR MISGUIDED, MISINFORMED, ANTISEMITIC BULLSHIT ANYMORE. ANYONE WHO THINKS ISRAEL IS A WAR CRIMINAL IS AN ANTISEMITE AND THERE IS NO REASON FOR US TO BE FRIENDS. BE IT ON FACEBOOK OR REAL LIFE.
There are 15 million Jews in the world. That is 0.2% of the world population. Yes, less than 1 fucking percent of the whole world is Jewish. If you don’t think that such a small number of people need a place to call their own, especially given our history, and especially since there are people everywhere, right now, again calling for our extermination, and that we need to do everything and anything to protect it, then you hate Jews and you hate Israel and by extension, you hate me. Please, let’s not be friends.”

Dear Friend:

Your words very clearly express your pain and anger. I think I hear your fear too.

I’m not going to respond to the facts you shared about the Holocaust, the world’s criticism directed at the State of Israel today or Israel’s right to defend herself. But I hear you!

I’m not going to explain who the Palestinians are, or their history, or their right to resist the occupation. I don’t think you would hear me.

I’m just going to tell you a story about a young man who attended a Passover Seder in my community (Albuquerque, NM) about 10 years ago. As we were reciting the haggadah, someone asked “why are Jews God’s ‘Chosen People’?”

This young man was probably 17 or 18 years old at the time, but very wise for his young age. He immediately chimed in and said “Jews are the ‘Chosen People’ because God chose them to teach the rest of the world how to live with our neighbors.”

That’s a powerful message!

If it’s true, if Jews are the ‘Chosen People’ to teach us how to get along and live as neighbors, then how should the State of Israel (and Jews everywhere) share that lesson with the world?

  • By “unfriending” anyone on Facebook who disagrees with our point of view?
  • By only hanging out with people who think the way we do? Pray the way we pray?
  • By demonizing and killing hundreds of people we have never met (such as the Palestinians in Gaza)?
  • By building a wall between us and our neighbors so we can’t see each other, talk with each other, visit with each other?

You’re still living with the horror of the Holocaust but the Palestinians weren’t responsible for that nightmare.

I suspect you’ve never met a Palestinian or talked with a Palestinian.

If that young man at the Passover Seder was right, and God’s Chosen People are here to teach us all how to live with our neighbors, how can Jews help us live together? That young man at the Passover Seder is a Palestinian from Gaza, but I’m not sure whether he’s still alive.

I’m told that the Golden Rule is in the Torah, just as it’s in the Bible and Quran. Can the Golden Rule help heal your pain and fear?

Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: “Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.”  – Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Your Facebook message ends with a fear that I hate you.

“If you don’t think that such a small number of people need a place to call their own, especially given our history, and especially since there are people everywhere, right now, again calling for our extermination, and that we need to do everything and anything to protect it, then you hate Jews and you hate Israel and by extension, you hate me. Please, let’s not be friends.”

I don’t hate Jews, I don’t hate Israel, and I don’t hate you.  I want to learn how to live together as neighbors respecting the Golden Rule.

ABC News - Sulome Anderson

ABC News – Sulome Anderson

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Filed under Israel, Spiritual - Religion

I won’t forget!

Three teens there.

One teen here.

Mohammed Abu Khdeir (16 years old) was abducted and murdered in Jerusalem

Mohammed Abu Khdeir (16 years old) was abducted and murdered in Jerusalem

Oh, don’t forget the two teens before the three.

And the teen in 2005. The soldier emptied his rifle into her to confirm the kill.

Tonight a good friend in Gaza tells me she feels nothing. “Is that normal?” she asks.

Maybe I feel too much; why haven’t the miles between Gaza and Albuquerque anesthetized my heart? That was then (Nov. 2012).  Such a polite little war, day after day.

This is now.

I want to set Netanyahu on fire and watch him burn. Would he scream? Would I feel pleasure?

Maybe this is the Third Intifada; maybe not.

How can life go on as though there is no Holocaust happening right under our noses?

Oh yes, that forbidden word. We shall not whisper it unless we honor the victims of the past. BUT THERE ARE VICTIMS TODAY! And the perpetrators are just as evil as Hitler’s Nazis.

No! No! Not THAT word!

Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi…Nazi

Israel is a racist, fascist, Nazi state. THERE, I said it. (or wrote it)

Sticks and stones might break my bones … (American F-16s and bombs are surely breaking plenty in Gaza tonight) … but words will never hurt me.

10534400_10204328449910519_3099672152620757177_n

 

 

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Filed under Gaza, Israel Defense Forces, People