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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Reconsideration continues


In the process of reconsidering this blog, I came across this that I wrote last spring, at about the same time I began to blog. I figure I might as well post it, probably took me hours to write, and it would be a shame to waste the effort. I can only notice that very little has changed.
How is it that I come to find myself to the right of Ariel Sharon? In my thirty years of voting, I’ve never so much as cast one ballot in favor of a Republican; I’ve always been a liberal, a Democrat, a pacifist, a peacenik. Always, until a year ago.

A year ago, pro-Palestinian activists made a jarring and frightening presentation at my son’s high school here in Boulder. A year ago, a Passover seder was bombed in Netanya, on the other side of the world, when hours later, I would go to a seder myself. The collision (collusion?) of these two events somehow turned my life inside out and nothing has been the same since. Not since my son saw his classmates and lifetime friends nodding at unfounded accusations of Israel, not since I ate matzah when the matzah of other Jews was literally stained with the blood of their deaths.

In this year, I have read interminable numbers of histories and analyses of the Arab war on Israel, and have chronicled the rise of antisemitism in Europe and America. I have read arguments exploring the fine, even indecipherable, line between legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and racist hatred of that Jewish state. I have cried legions of tears when Jews-who-could-be-me-or-mine have been blown up, killed, and left barely living, maimed for life. I have pondered x-rays that show nails and screws in the oddest places in the bodies of Israeli people. I have exposed historic connections between Palestinian terrorism and the German Nazi leadership. I have talked to Holocaust survivors and Jews “for peace.” I have witnessed swastikas on the CU campus and celebration of “Palestine Day” on the Boulder courthouse lawn. I have read and talked and listened and read some more, to near-exhaustion. I have watched reams of Arab incitement to hate and murder Jews, on little screens on my computer where they assume a toylike nonreality. I have railed at the press, at professors and their university administrations, at friends and family, at individuals known to me and not. I have driven people nuts.

And just lately, I have watched as Ariel Sharon accepted the possibility of a Palestinian Arab state in lands controlled by Israel. I have watched as he agreed to plans to make areas of biblical Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”) Jew-free, in the interest of something called “contiguity,” which, ostensibly, the Palestinians will require. I watched the summit in Jordan, where the flags of Jordan, Syria, the PLO, the US and European Union adorned the streets, but the Israeli flag was not allowed. Underneath the absence of this flag, Sharon acceded to territorial demands, and made further “painful concessions” on behalf of the Jewish people, in exchange for naught. I have watched the old terrorist, Abu Mazen, in a new suit, in front of international news cameras, unable even to speak specifically of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Abu Mazen’s promises of “effort” are not impressive and so far, he falls short of having any influence among his own: the Al-Aqsa bridgades (part of Arafat’s Fatah), Islamic Jihad and Hamas have said they refuse to cooperate with the road map to peace, but instead will continue to make war on the Jews, to win from them an “Islamic Palestine.” The Palestinian Authority website shows a map of Israel, without Israel, called Palestine instead, and reputable reporters refer to “Palestine” as if that nation actually exists. And exist it does, in the minds of those who equate the danger of suicide bombings with the danger of housing construction for Jewish families -- equivalent threats to peace, as if that makes any sense at all.

Finally, I come to the point. None of this makes any sense. Examined from any and all angles, constructed, deconstructed or outlined, why people hate the Jews as a collective (or a polity), remains outside of rationality. It is a vile, yet cosmic, mystery. What is of urgent interest is the question of how the Jewish collective responds to being hated this time around, be it by forthright Arab Muslims who seek their destruction, American peace activists who try to thwart their self-defense, or old-new-style French antisemitism, where rabbis are beaten on the streets.

I, for one, am sick of explaining how the Israeli claim to the land of Israel predates and dwarfs any other possible claim, how the existence of a distinct Palestinian people is a fabricated hoax which originated with Arafat in the 1960s, and how Israelis just want to live in peace, unmolested and protected by their own. Why should I try to impress upon the world that the numbers of Israeli civilians killed and wounded actually represent innocent human beings? Why should Jews make unending “painful concessions” only to be slaughtered some more? I am sick of Jewish leaders giving away our inheritance in international antisemitic atmospheres and settings.

I don’t know what has possessed Arik Sharon to refuse the warrior role he was elected to play, and suddenly choose to reinvent himself as the Great Peacemaker. I don’t care to know what it is the U.S. has threatened him with, or promised. To see him acquiesce, is to see him apologize for Jewish existence.

If only I could explain to him, “We are not hated because we are blamed for everything; we are blamed for everything because we are not loved” (Jabotinksy, 1911). Sharon’s efforts to get us loved in the world will no doubt prove as fruitless as were those of countless others in the past. He should get over it.