To stop genocide, we have to call things genocidal first.

To stop genocide, we have to call things genocidal first.

It’s the High Holy Days still. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur have passed, but there is Sukkot and Simchat Torah over the next week or so. On a personal level, I want to soften and reconcile. I want to repent and listen. I want to shut up and apologize simply. I want to be soft spoken, look at where I err, not others. I want to open up and take It in. Personally, I do. I am. I will. I am…if imperfectly, sadly…but I do, I am.

jim.wall.bird.terrorPolitically, I don’t want to mince words though. I am always struck by the Yom Kippur morning Haftorah portion (Isaiah 57 and 58) when the prophet screams at the people Israel to get real, to stop bullshitting ourselves, to stop being assholes, to stop having things not work out and then run crying to God. (Oh, God. I do do that, don’t I!) If we don’t got our neighbor’s back, then things don’t feel chill or safe or secure. Well, that’s no surprise! We help people in need and things look, feel and smell a lot sweeter, almost by definition. So, I feel called to cry out about politics, about Israel especially, alongside the United States. (So what else is new?) I really mean to shake people to awaken outrage, not to bludgeon anyone. I am crying out in anguish and outrage myself. Why? Here is why:

  • I think it is manifestly evident that Israel and the United States don’t care if Palestinians live or die, and they are actively killing them, taking their land, and criminalizing their existence in the diaspora. This we must oppose and stop, so we must ponder and meditate on it as we atone.
  • Um_Il_Khair_bulldozer_destroys_homeIf my harsh words distract anyone from taking up the cause of resisting oppression done in our names, then I think they are too easily looking away from the people in need, Palestine, and the fault isn’t mine. The problem isn’t my tongue nor the errors of Palestinian leadership or any violence committed in resistance to Zionist myopia and greed. Nor is it violence committed against Jews in other countries or by the Mufti of Jerusalem eighty years ago. We are called “not to look away” from those in need.
  • Let me say again: I think it is manifestly evident that Israel and the United States don’t care if Palestinians live or die, and they are actively killing them, taking their land, and criminalizing their existence in the diaspora. This is the foundational affront we must stop and ponder as we meditate and atone.
  • Mosul (2)I don’t think they’re going to stop. Israel and Zionists, I mean. Israel…people who themselves claim the label “Zionist” and insist they are defending all Jews, are acting for all Jews, and are operating from a place of Jewish goodness…the people Israel are taking what was Palestine and running highways to the sea through it.
  • Israel demands to wear the mantle of all that is Jewish and then bristles at any unflattering conflation of Judaism and Zionism. I’m not the one making Zionism, and by extension Judaism, hateful. I’m also not the one to be blamed for conflating Israel and Judaism. Credit for that also goes to the Zionists, not the Palestinians nor even to real antisemites like the ones Israel is colluding with in the Trump administration or in despotic regimes that purchase weapons to use on their own people that have been developed and tested on Palestinians by Jews.
  • jim-and-the-earthen-roadblock_PPTIf my cousins don’t like the brutality and trajectory of Zionism, they need to stop the other Zionists from making the label something despotic and greedy. Or they need to shed the term and stop being defensive about it. The people doing horrific things demand the mantle of Zionism. It isn’t me choosing to call them that.
  • They’re killing Palestinians like there’s no tomorrow. Israel refuses to punish brutality committed by Jews against Palestinians even in the most extreme and blatant cases.
  • Jaffa_Street_massesIf you think Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon earned the right to be remembered as statesmen after their admittedly terrorist careers, then grant Palestinian revolutionaries the same honor. It is at least as honestly deserved. Don’t want Palestinian knife wielders to be remembered lovingly? Then deal with the ostentatious grave of mass-murderer Baruch Goldstein and the impunity other murderers of Palestinians are afforded. And don’t ask me if I think Rasmeah Odeh killed anyone!
  • I think Jews will get a better shake from Palestinians than has been the case in the reverse, even after all this time, all that has been taken, all that has been lost. All that has been killed. Palestinians can’t act more bloodthirsty than has Israel.Sumud_signs_flags
  • It could get worse though, and there is a tomorrow. That can go either way, and we have the capacity and necessity to steer the ship. How bad does it have to get for you not to consider me alarmist? Does genocide have to happen first?
  • I didn’t say genocide has happened, but to stop something, we need to name it first. I think there are lots of indicators that Israel will continue deluding itself that it is just acting to protect itself. It isn’t and Israel must be stopped.
  • Israel is a nuclear weapon state with sophisticated delivery systems that surpass all but Russia and the United States. That puts it in a special class of moral reprehensibility. Overblown fear of Iran is another distraction that keeps good-hearted Jews from confronting Israel. We are threatening them more than the other way around. “We” have nukes and they don’t. Let me say that again: We are threatening Iran, not the other way around. We have nukes, and they don’t!
  • Forward_activists-1468604402The horrific, despotic Zionist truth of the present is so bad, that it makes antisemitic works of the past like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Blood Libel easier to sell and harder to dismiss out of hand.
  • First responsibility to stop Israel lies with Israelis. Second responsibility lies with world Jewry, and third responsibility lies with people of the United States. We really need to stop and ponder what “we” are doing to the Palestinians before it is too late.
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3 Responses to To stop genocide, we have to call things genocidal first.

  1. David m Spero says:

    I appreciate your honesty. It’s terrifying to talk about the ways in which Israel is making anti-Semitic tropes come true. I think Steven Salaita said ‘If it’s anti-Semitic to oppose bombing children in Gaza, then what choice does an honest person have but to be anti-Semitic?’ I was reading the book of Joshua the other day, and I can see where Israel’s leaders can claim to be upholding Jewish tradition. What they’re doing is pretty much what the Hebrews did in the Bible, conquering and displacing indigenous people. The Judaism that prioritizes justice and prosperity is rabbinical, diaspora Judaism; Likud is the Judaism of Deuteronomy and Kings.

    Like

    • haberjim says:

      Thank you, David. I appreciate what Salaita said and your sharing it here. It reminds me when an asshole cornered me into having to say, “I hate Israel,” since she asserted that when she saw a pin I was wearing that said “Palestinian Human Rights” overlaid on a kite flying.

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  2. Rabbi Burt Jacobson says:

    Just a note about the Book of Joshua. Biblical scholars have claimed for sometime that Joshua was a made up book, and that the kind of genocide that it portrays never happened. They believe that the Book of Judges provides a more accurate depiction of history, that is, that the Israelites struggled with the Canaanite peoples over a long period of time, won some and lost some.
    Burt Jacobson

    Like

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