Dance in a trance

Sunday, June 6, 2010



The shocking act of piracy that was committed this week in the name of the Jewish state cannot be tolerated and Jews must be the first to stand up and be counted. I am a secular Jew, the child of Holocaust survivors and I have seen the Holocaust being used and abused to claim special privileges which have no basis in law or human rights. Israel has become like a spoilt child whose parents daren’t criticise it – a fact that has done both it and them more harm than good. Mrs Clinton waves her finger angrily at Iran and Korea but will she express outrage at an act of flagrant illegality and even criminality? Has anyone waited for an independent report before condemning North Korea for supposedly sinking a battleship? Where were the WMD that justified the Iraq war? What is fuelling anger and terrorism in the world is the application of double standards.
The bombing of a flotilla of boats peopled by those who promote peace and reconciliation in the Middle East has brought out the worst in the Jewish state. We cannot wait for “proper investigations” which simply delay the issue and (the perpetrators hope) put it out of the public mind. Some stories simply don’t have two sides and this is one of them just as there were no two sides when the Nazis carried out their Final Solution on Jews, Catholics, homosexuals and gypsies. Both were plain wrong. But the older generation of Jews all over the world still carry the paranoia and fear of the Other that leads them to fear outsiders. Their dead did not receive proper burials and they are still in a state of grief. After centuries of persecution it is understandable but by this stage not forgivable. Imagine that I as an Australian Jew have the “right of return” to my “ancient homeland” but Palestinians who have lived there since time immemorial don’t! Israel’s behaviour is still grounded in the sense of abandonment Jews felt when the world stood by as they were slaughtered like cattle. What it taught them was to stand on their own feet: to become heavily militarised and attack anything that looks like a threat. They do not need to fear world opinion because it has not stopped them even from demolishing houses in East Jerusalem let alone bombing the daylights out of innocent civilians.
As people of the Book, we must think and use our experience to defend others against harm: that surely is the lesson of the Holocaust. Not to use it as an excuse to lie and kill. The flotilla was attacked in international waters – itself a crime in law – by a country which is illegally occupying the Gaza strip because a democratically elected regime is seen as evil and threatening. The UN has stood by and done nothing. The boats were inspected before they set sail from Turkey and no weapons of any kind were found. The commandos began shooting from the air before they even touched deck, again breaking international law by murdering civilians. I do not deny that Palestinians have lobbed rockets into Israel but compared to what has been done to them and considering that Israel is a nuclear power and armed to the teeth that is small beer. Once again Israel has over-reacted. It has turned itself into Goliath forgetting that it was the small humble David who ultimately won the game.
Jews are renowned for their learning and scholarship but when it comes to action these qualities are entirely absent. Thought demands that you consider the consequences of your actions. Will this, or for that matter another of Obama’s “surges” put a stop to Al Qaeda or any of the other groups that are mushrooming around the world in response to these acts? On the contrary. Jews must know from their own experience that such behaviour only strengthens their resolve and gathers more recruits. Zionists were strengthened by opposition from the British in the years before the establishment of the state of Israel. They have forgotten that they, like Nelson Mandela, were forced to be terrorists in order to achieve independence. “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it,” wrote Santayana. The more outlandishly the Israeli government behaves, the more pacifists and people who care about human rights gather in greater numbers to protest. Like all religions, Judaism preaches love and respect for fellow human beings. Once you write off a section of humanity you feel free to treat them like animals. That is not the philosophy I was taught but it was what enabled the Nazis to attempt genocide. Let the Jews’ vow of “never again” apply to everyone, not just to their own kind. And please know, Mr Netanyahu, that the Israel my parents devoted their lives to building has nothing at all to do with the policies you are carrying out. If I have the right of return to Israel, I also have the right to speak out.
845 words

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