Thanks for your thoughtful and erudite response to my statement: “It’s the Jews, stupid.”
I don’t disagree with your history, but imperialist support for Zionism is not the problem. Of course the Jews had help in the process of bringing the Jewish state of Israel into being. My reading of the history of the twentieth century shows that it was pretty complicated. But the ultimate cause of the “problem” in Palestine is the Zionist Jewish project to establish a Jewish homeland (Jewish state) in Palestine for Jews, of the Jews by the Jews. If Jews had not decided to rob Palestinians of their land and dignity as human beings there would be no problem. The Jews as immigrants could decide to live side by side as equals with their indigenous neighbors. But by insisting on a Jewish supremacist state the Jews have become (were and are) the problem.
I am actually hopeful that my admittedly provocative (crass?) statement (It’s the Jews, stupid!) works on multiple levels:
1. the obvious: it’s Jews who are doing Zionism. (there wouldn’t be a Jewish state of Israel if there weren’t Jews. This sounds sort of “over-obvious” just reading it, but I still think it’s important and ties to my main argument, see below).
2. it’s not only the Israeli Jews who are producing the Zionist project and persecuting the Palestinians: a majority of the Diaspora Jews actually support Israel’s oppression and criminal persecution of the Palestinians. Why? Because they’re Jews! (this is one of Atzmon’s main points: the sense of Jewish identity and Jewishness plays the key role in the world-wide (Diaspora) support of Jews for the Jewish state of Israel.)
3. part of the “problem” is we can’t say what the problem is: it’s the “Jews”. If you’re gentile (Oy Vey! I’m goy!) you can’t even use the word “Jew”! Calling a Jew a Jew is an insult and anti-Semitic unless you are a Jew, then you can say the word. So it becomes chilling to the discussion of the problem of Palestine – and I also admit that this actually attracts me -- I enjoy the confrontation of calling out what I believe is evil Jewish racism. I object to the usual apology: “it’s not the Jewish people who are doing these bad things, it’s the government, or it’s the Zionists, or just those ultra-right-wing guys.” Nope, it’s the Jews. (Not all Jews, right?! But a good portion.)
4. (an extension of #3) it becomes critically important to the discussion of the problem: the “Jewish” state of Israel. If you can’t say the word “Jew”, how on earth can you talk about a one-state solution, for instance? When I say abolish the Jewish state of Israel, I don’t mean push the Jews in to the Mediterranean Sea – but I do mean Jews should not have some privilege in human rights over Palestinians as citizens of Palestine-Israel. Abolish the Jewish state of Israel has to do with eliminating the apartheid and Jewish-supremacist institutionalized racism that exists in Israel today.
5. Why do I use the phrase, “it’s the Jews”? Cause that’s where the power is. (e.g., why did Dillinger rob banks, “cause that’s where the money is.”) I see the Palestinian struggle to end Israel’s crimes of ethnic-cleansing, occupation, colonization and apartheid as a struggle against the Israeli Jews and their Diaspora supporters! Israel as the Jewish state is all about Jews – just ask Bibi Netanyahu. And this is who must be confronted with their awful crimes against the Palestinians.
6. #5 leads directly to this: addressing the Jews personifies an effective strategy in the struggle for Palestinian justice. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: When I started the CU-Divest! campaign I attempted to reach out to the local Jewish community (I had the naïve notion that I could actually persuade (progressive) Jews to join an effort to resist Israel’s blatant crimes and not support Israel is its on-going oppression of Palestinians.) I talked to a local Rabbi and asked for support of our campaign to get the University to divest from Israeli apartheid. The reaction was swift and unequivocal: don’t use the word apartheid and you can’t criticize Israel: it’s offensive and implicitly anti-Semitic.
I have come to believe that in a non-violent strategy to defeat Israel in its war on Palestinians, we must confront not only the state of Israel (Israeli Jews) but in our BDS efforts here in the USA, we must also confront Diaspora Jews who support Israel. My reference point for this salient is my experience growing up in apartheid Mississippi in the 50s and 60s. The “good” white people who acquiesced and pretended not to be racist bigots, in fact supported the the Jim Crow laws and segregation, they were part of the problem. Likewise with Palestine, the “good” Jews are part of the problem and must be confronted – the Diaspora Jews who support the Zionist project or simply remain silent are complicit.
Which leads to a couple of points from the Palestinian manifesto from “Nahida the Exiled Palestinian”:
* Palestinians are under no obligation to hold back their march for freedom, to curtail their aims or to smother their rights for the sake of accommodating and not offending their Jewish supporters.
* Palestinians are always grateful and appreciative of the hard work and dedication of all their supporters whomever they are, however, Palestinians have NO obligation to adopt the aims and objectives of the anti-zionist Jewish supporters instead of their own.
Tom, you are correct: “It is difficult to witness the cruel oppression of the Palestinians and the support rendered that oppression by many Diaspora Jews without feeling anger at the Jewish community as a whole.” But my statement, it’s the Jews, stupid, stands as simple statement of fact. It doesn’t say all Jews and doesn’t mean that we or anyone should “hate” Jews. But step one is to recognize what the problem is. Jews have created the racist, Jewish-supremacist state of Israel are responsible for the ongoing crimes against the Palestinians.
As for being tarred with the usual epithet of anti-semitism and playing into the hands of Zionism -- I am well past that. That’s sort of the whole point. See # 5 & 6 above. Anyway, at this point in my life and where I am in my support for the Palestinian cause, all I can say is, too fucking bad.
Palestine Liberation Activist
CU-Divest! Tell the University of Colorado NOT to Invest In Israeli Apartheid!