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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Is The Current Anti-Semitism Different From The Zionism It Opposes?

The best article I've ever read on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was written by a very important friend and fellow activist, Rita Corriel (click here for the article). Such an article is of extreme importance today not simply because of the horrendous conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is of extreme importance also because of the growing anti-Semitic pushback that Israel's atrocities are causing both here in America and in Europe. Both Israel's brutal occupation against the Palestinians and the anti-Semitism that follows show what people are choosing to learn. Corriel's article identifies the source of the lessons being adhered to when she writes to Israel:

You appear to have learned far more from the behavior of your oppressors, than from the experience of being oppressed.

One only needs to modify her statement to describe the Western anti-Semitism that results from Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. We could say that those who have chosen to hate Jews have chosen to learn more from those who oppress than from the experiences of those who were oppressed. In either case, the results are too similar for comfort. While the first group callously torments a second group, a third group threatens to attack the first group.

I became aware of the growing anti-Semitism while collecting articles for the last ONIM blogpost for this blog. The kind of anti-Semitism being spoken here of is not the false anti-Semitism used to dismiss criticisms of Israel's policies. Rather, it consists of verbal abuse and threats along with physical attacks on property and people (click here and there). Some of this hatred has been associated with pro-Palestinian rallies. Not all pro-Palestinian rallies have anti-Semitism. I know because I've been to a number of them and I would immediately if I saw any anti-Semitism. But to permit the presence of anti-Semitism at any of these rallies shows that they too like Israel, as Corriel has pointed out, have learned more from oppressors rather than from the experience of being oppressed.

In addition to having learned from the oppressor, those who embrace exclusion in the name of some group or cause are simply giving themselves up to tribalism. With tribalism, right and wrong depends on who does what to whom--such should be abhorrent to my fellow Christians. Thus, when we surrender to tribalism, we become like our enemies except perhaps for some cosmetic differences. At that point, what is left is the rule of the jungle and the survival of the fittest. And here, we should remind ourselves that the best case scenario we could hope for is that we leave a debt that will be collected by those seeking revenge from our descendants. And isn't that what the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict has taught us.

For those who doubt Israel's guilt, there is plenty of documentation available. The latest go around was well described by Noam  Chomsky (click here and there). It is also described by others. But here is a little test to show the current environment in the US. Make a case for the Palestinians using only Palestinian sources and note the reaction. Then do the same only using Jewish sources--we should note that there are quite a few Jews who have not fallen prey to the siren call of Israeli nationalism--and note the difference in the reaction. Of course, citing Jewish sources will not convince those who support Zionism. But their reaction to the information will be different in that many who reacted with a smug look will then might look troubled. All of this does not contradict the existence of anti-Semitism. It simply means the growing number of anti-Semites is still a minority. And we still have time put anti-Semitism in full remission. Unfortunately, we will never eradicate it.

And we should note one other thing here. It's a tragic irony when Europeans strive to scapegoat Jews for the atrocities committed by Israel. Why? It is because the cruelty which the Israeli government practices against the Palestinians is not peculiar to Jews. After all, we would have had no Israeli-Palestinian conflict had it not been for century after century of brutal anti-Semitism practiced by Christian Europeans against European Jews. Their rejection and harsh treatment of the Jews not only drove the Jews from Europe, they provided a horrific education for the Jews on how to treat those outside one's group.

The only escape from our moral and physical self-destruction is again well put by Corriel later on in the article when she addresses Israel.
You must understand, once and for all, that before we claim our identity as members of any nation, tribe, race, religion, profession, institution, movement or cause, we must first, and above all else, claim the identity that is our common Humanity. This is why the 'Righteous Christians' are given a special place of honor in Jewish holocaust history. They are called 'Righteous' precisely because they put their humanity above their national, religious and social identities. 

We should note that what she is saying here is at least somewhat echoed by Socialism's support of the 'International' and New Testament's teaching how all are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28) and that God shows no favoritism (Romans 2:5-11).  Thus for anyone from either group to participate or support anti-Semitism is a denial of self.

Now regarding Corriel's referencing of the 'Righteous Christians, we might ask, why is there no rush to imitate the truly righteous ones? It is because, unlike those Righteous Christians, we choose to exploit others to enrich ourselves. And we do that because we do not regard all who are from other tribes as being our equals, as being as human as we are. In fact, it is difficult to count all who are in our own tribe as being that human--here, we should perhaps look up the word 'untermenschen' and remember who used this word and in what context. We minimize the significance of others because things are more important to us than people and so we relegate those who get in our way to that of being disposable.

If we really want to oppose the atrocities committed by the Israeli government and some others, we will choose not to imitate them. Rather, we will oppose all such evil regardless of who is doing what to whom. Here, we must resist the temptation to keep score and then support the tribe that does the least evil. All involved have already done too much evil for that to be any good. So we must oppose the IDF attacks on Palestinian civilians as much as we oppose the terrorist attacks committed by groups like Hamas and vice-versa. For unless we do so, we will only contribute to the ever growing cycle of dehumanization and violence. Then the only difference between us and others will be the uniforms we wear.

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