Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Love Israel- Warts and All

The article was forwarded to me by my friends and in a way I found it quite moving. The piece can be read here (just scroll down past the commentary) and was originally publshised in the Jewish Journal. However, I have three major contentions with the article, but before I go on to that I want to point out the numerous things I agree with:

  1. Israel is not above criticism nor is it a perfect- meaning it is not infallible nor is it always a matter of it being good vs. evil, big vs. small etc. That Israel, has and will make mistakes like any human enterprise.
  2. Israeli's have more leeway to criticize and hold different perspectives of politics, social issues and the peace process, but here in the US the Jewish community is "myopic" and to me I believe it has much to do with the Zionist organizations that constantly holds the opinion of even those who mean good due to the demoniziation of all things not in line with Zionism.
  3. I agree that there is a sense of anti-zionism growing in the US and thats due to the growing number of people who are experiancing and then sharing or working toward changing the constructed reality of Palestinian-Israeli dilema.
  4. Major Jewish organizations, even progressives ones, constantly just talk about Israel left and right and it becomes hard to really focus on things that Muslims and Jews in the US really agree upon- social justice, equal access to health care, education, separation of church and state, welfare, workers rights the list goes on.
  5. The numerous Jewish students I ran across did have whitewashed versions of Israel, however, they were able to show me things I might not have known about Israel, however it was always a one way streak, when it came to criticizing Israel and its policies they normally would shut down and never forgive me for being critical of Israel.
  6. That American Jews have the ability to make Israel the great country it has the possibility of becoming.
  7. That much like America, which is a great place, there are things that are not perfect and things that we have the ability as citizens, people of conscience to change- and we have the tools here to make effective change- the same is true of Israel, why not make it the democracy it can be, and hopefully a shining light for all the other despots in the region.
  8. Jews, Zionism maybe, need to re-evaluate how and what is being taught about Israel. The list continues of points I agree with, for the sake of moving on this is my last point.
Points of Disagreement:

  1. Apartheid state- in the article there is mention that there are check points, Jewish only roads, loss of water and land due to settlement. There is a "fence" which really is a concrete barrier with look out towers carving out land that is not finalized as far as borders are concerned. This is 'aparthaid'- its only one aspect. Arabs voting and participating in Israel. That is questionable, since it seems that is more for visibility then it is practical. Arab villages have second rate schools, are always in dire need upkeep and public projects- roads, electricity, water, sewage- all these things are prioritized so that Arab Israelivillages are last to receive them- or they never get them. This Apartheid point is debatable and something I do not mind leaving up in the air as questionable because of that.
  2. "We need to teach American Jews to love Israel, warts and all, because Israel is worth loving and supporting." I really think that to love Israel "warts and all" leaves a very important aspect out of the picture, the desire to change, not to blemish the warts but to remove them. I think this point is later addressed, however, I felt that it was not conveyed as strongly.
  3. Finally, the point missing is this connection and partnership with the Evangelical Right and war for the sake of war. This point is not addressed and I do feel its one of the more destructive paths developing with in the Jewish community that is known for its commitment for justice and peace.
Yet, I commend the piece because its a GOOD step. A step that might even bring Muslims and Jews to the table in larger numbers. Many critics of Israel- Muslims included- have this major issue with the Jewish community in America that they are blinded by their commitment to Israel given their social justice and peace positions on many other issues, but I feel its largely due to the Zionist organizations that builds this wall of not questioning or exploring other perspectives beyond the Zionist constructed reality of Israel- Birth Right Israel is a culprit in this. But again, bravo for the Jewish Journal and more so to the Progressive Jewish Alliance for a stance that will bring together all Americans on this contentious issue.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad you found our op-ed piece interesting but that does NOT give you the right to reproduce a copyrighted piece on your site.

A link is certainly OK, though.

Have a Blessed Ramadan.

--- Dennis Wilen, Webmaster, JewishJournal.com

Affad Shaikh said...

Ramadan Mubarak to you to Dennis and all at teh JewishJournal.com If I am correct Yom Kippur is this weekend?

I hope that it is blessed and filled with spiritual connectivity.

Take care and the suggestion has been taken into account.