On the political mailing list I'm on (the one that doesn't contain any mention of little green footballs), Israel has been a hot topic again of late. The Palestinians are selecting a reform cabinet; the IDF is stepping up the tank attacks; and the Sharon government is enforcing a USA-PATRIOT-style raft of antiterror legislation with a vengeance, so there's been a lot of talk about the future and the past of Israel.
And, of course, I've been right there at the vanguard, sticking up for the home team. This has led, for what is now the third time in three weeks, to a veiled accusation of anti-Semitism being hurled at me by one of the most vociferously pro-Zionist people on the group. (Interestingly, he is not himself a Jew, but a Christian minister. The implications of this are for another post, and one not written by me.) Most recently, he has suggested that because of my partially Arab heritage, I am "naturally" inclined towards a dislike of Jews (as if anti-Semitism was bred in the bone, or hatred of the Jews was a genetic component of the Arab ethnos), and that my sources of criticism of the behavior and activities of the Israeli government relied to heavily on reports and writings by other Arabs, who "can not be trusted" because of their own anti-Jew bias.
Now, I'm an old hand at being called a racist. It doesn't even bother me anymore. And I've said "anti-Zionism/criticism of the Israeli government is not the same as anti-Semitism" so many times that the phrase has become rote (not that it ever changes anyone's mind). However, I still am driven absolutely insane by the suggestion that attacking the oppressive, brutal nationalism of Israel can only be motivated by some sort of deep hatred of the Jewish people. It's just so blinkered and willfully ignorant that it makes me crazy.
From notorious Jew-hater Isaac Deutscher, who, along with his wife Tamara, lost his entire family in the Holocaust:
"The Germans have summed up their own experience in the bitter phrase 'Man kann sich totsiegen' -- 'you can rush victoriously into your grave'. This is what the Israelis have been doing. In the conquered territories and in Israel, there are nearly a million and five hundred thousand Arabs, well over 40 percent of the total population...this victory is worse for Israel than a defeat. Far from giving Israel a higher degree of security, it has rendered it much more insecure."
Or how about infamous anti-Semite Baruch Kimmerling, head of the sociology department at Hebrew University?
"I accuse Ariel Sharon of creating a process in which he will not only intensify the reciprocal bloodshed, but is liable to instigate a regional war and partial or nearly complete ethnic cleansing of the Arabs in the land of Israel...if there is a second naqba, this leadership too will be among the causes. I accuse the military leadership, spurred on by the national leadership, of inciting public opinion, under a cloak of supposed military professionalism, against the Palestinians."
Then there's intemperate self-hating Jewish philosopher Yeshayahu Leibovitz:
"The occupation has ruined every good part of Israel and destroyed the moral infrastructure on which Israeli society exists."
Yael Oren Kahn, born and raised in Israel, must have a lot of internalized anti-Semitism in her black heart to have penned these words in response to the myth that Palestine was largely uninhabited when Israel was founded:
"As a very young child I remember sitting on my dad's shoulders when we walked in magical gardens and orchids...I imagined paradise would be like this. Yet, the scattered ruins disturbed me. I did not understand why they were deserted. Who would abandon such a paradise? The name of the place was Basheet. I asked my father and got no answer. When this paradise was destroyed and replaced with new houses and a new name, Aseret, my questions vanished with it. I befriended the Israelis who moved in and forgot the ghosts of the past. That is, until many years later, when I met the former inhabitants of Basheet in the Rafah Refugee Camp on the Gaza strip. By then I knew that K'far Mordechai, my childhood home, was built on the land of Basheet. Looking at the refugee shacks embarrassed me. I thought of the new villas that had been built on their land and felt the bitter pain of helplessness. One woman, who originally came from Yibnee, a town near Basheet, saw how distressed I was and comforted me. She had so much compassion. I then found out that she had lost a husband on an Israeli building site and a son to Israeli bullets."
Hebrew scholar Akiva Orr must have REALLY hated the Jews to write this:
"We are used to believe abroad that Arabs are savages from the desert, ignorant like animals, who neither see nor understand what is happening around them. This is a great mistake. The Arab, like all Semites, has a sharp mind...the time has come in the life of our people in Palestine has developed to such an extent as to push out, to smaller, then larger, extents, the indigenous population of the country, and now not easily will they give up their place."
The less said about self-hating Jewish thinker Asher Ginzburg, the better:
"The state of the Jews will finally be a state like that of the Germans, or French, only inhabited by Jews. An example of this process already exists in Palestine. History teaches that druing Herod's kingdom Israel was indeed the state of the Jews but the Jewish culture was rejected and persecuted...such a state of the Jews will be mortal poison to our people and will grind its spirit in the dust. This small state will survive only by diplomatic intrigues and by constant servility to the powers that happen to be dominant. Thus it will really be, much more than now, a small, miserable people, a spiritual slave."
I'm positive -- absolutely positive -- that he will simply claim that these are the words of "self-hating Jews" or the product of "internalized anti-Semitism". His mind won't be changed unless God himself comes down and tells him otherwise, and since that's obviously not going to happen, it's pretty hopeless. But at least I'll have satisfied myself by saying my piece.