Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I've reframed and rewritten this post in my head many times, but it never comes out quite right. I don't know how to say it eloquently or properly. Others have tried.

Before, there was this interesting article. I read it today, finally having gotten around to The Nation from ages ago. It made no sense anymore, in context.

Where should I start? Should I start with the discomfort of being a Jew in a world that contains Israel, of having my allegiance claimed by a reprehensible theocracy, which I have never visited or been inclined to visit, simply because my parents' parents supposedly believed in a scary old boogieman in the sky? Is that too far back to go, too irrelevant to today?

Should I skip the background and jump right into the fury I experienced yesterday when I overheard two obviously Jewish undergraduates strolling the campus of our illustrious University and pronouncing moral judgments on, of all people, the children in Palestine? I can give them the benefit of some doubt or other, and assume that they were using the word metaphorically, not actually accusing the children currently dying in agony of unethical acts. Even with that benefit, though, these boys were spewing enough racist filth to turn me into a 5'6" tower of righteous anger. I couldn't actually calm down enough to say anything to them, and that made me burn with an added layer of shame on top of the anger.

I think I need to start somewhere in between those poles. Maybe I'll start on 5 November 2008, when the nation of Israel decided to break the latest ceasefire agreement with the shell of Palestine that they have allowed (barely) to survive.

Or I could start further back, in 2006, when the people of Gaza democratically elected Hamas, and Israel began the siege.

Or I could start just under two weeks ago, when the current slaughter began. I think that's where I'll start.

I'll begin with the stunning numbers, constantly updated and republished even in the New York Times. Two days ago, they stood thus: Dead Israelis, 8. Dead Palestinians, 550.



Can I make that more unbelievable for you? 3 of the dead Israelis were killed by Israeli forces by accident. That makes for some simple math: for every Israeli killed by Palestinian rocket fire, the Israeli army has killed 110 Palestinians. Can you comprehend that sickening arithmetic? In less than two weeks.

This is beyond unconscionable. This is beyond disgusting. This is beyond terrifying, overwhelming, and stupefying. Beyond words. And it's just a continuation of a sustained policy employed by one of the only theocracies (the only theocracy?) acknowledged by the supposedly-secular democracies of the "Western" world.

I am a Jew. That's not something I choose to change, though it is within my power to do so. I refuse to let the racist, xenophobic, imperialist, homicidal actions of a nation thousands of miles from me take that identity for its own, stake a claim on the Jewish soul. We are not all Zionists. We are not all going to sit by quietly and let this band of war criminals pretend that they and we share a "birthright."

So, Jews out there, here's my challenge to you. We may disagree on Israel-related issues. I'm sure many of you do believe in the inherent right of a Jewish state to exist, while I do not. Let's put that aside, because that's not what it's about right now. Right now, it's about hundreds of people being killed horribly and not being able to get away from it. It's about children and other non-combatants being randomly slaughtered first from the air and now from the ground.

DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Be a good, guilt-ridden, bourgeois American and donate some money to relief efforts. Show your sense of civic involvement and call your elected representative. Take advantage of the mystic link between you and Israel and badger the consulate, the embassy, the various organs of that nation in this one. Protest. Shout. Pray. Cry. Blog, even. They won't be enough. They won't fix it. But can you honestly just stand around and watch the unspeakable horror unfold in front of you?

I must admit, I haven't donated money yet. I haven't been to a protest. I am not living up to my own challenge. Yet. But I will, as soon as this post is published. I can't donate a ton of money, but I can donate some. I can and will write angry letters to Henry Waxman, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, the Governator, The One. They won't stop the US from blindly backing Israel in all situations, but if you all do it too, maybe they'll start us on the right path.

I can't end this on a hopeful note. I can't say, "Gee, it'll all turn out fine if we just call our congressmen and -women!" It won't. People are dead. Twice as many people have died in Palestine in two weeks as graduated with me from my high school. We cannot fix this massacre, but no more can we let it pass unmentioned.

Had I a God or Gods, I would pray. Atheists have it harder; we have to place our faith, if we place it anywhere, in people. Human people. The same people who are killing, who are dying, who are on every side of this morass of death and destruction. Somehow these battered (and battering), beleaguered (and beleaguering) people must be the vessel of my faith. Let's hope it holds water.

I have rambled, and I know it. There isn't a narrative structure to this post. I refuse to marshal my thoughts into any sort of order; it wouldn't be fitting. There is no order here, no logic, no structure other than the cold efficiency of the abattoir, once again treating people like cattle to be slaughtered.


amy jay said...

I'm so glad you posted this...

KG said...

As someone who has visited Israel twice (once on a Hadassah-sponsored zionist trip, and once on a family trip to visit my relatives), I couldn't agree more. It's disgusting, and what angers me more is that it's so clearly originating in the Israeli government's complete mistrust of Barack Obama (better get the massacre going while Bush is in office than with an unknown quantity). Many Israeli soldiers are disgusted with this decision but must follow orders. Most Israelis I know are protesting. When you have such a disparity of governmental actions and the will of the people they represent, something is amiss.
(P.S. I'm no believer in the sacred right of Israel.)

amy jay said...