In my travels over the years since then, I eventually found two other Jewish friends who said sure, I could be a Jew if I really wanted to, so since then I've called the Jews "my people." I'm not exactly a devout or orthodox Jew; I don't eat Kosher or go to temple or anything. But I read a lot about my people and our struggle, and I identify with them. Elie Weisel is a true hero. I went to the Holocaust Museum, I study, I learn. I wrap my presents in "Happy Hannukah" paper. Every year at Hannukah, I used to ask Kat for a dreidel! (She and our daughter Em did not recognize my Jewishness, by the way, so I'm still waiting for that dreidel. And the menorah. Hmph.)
So today, as I'm driving home, I'm listening to NPR and I hear a report about the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmud al-Mabhuh. I'd read recently that Princess Sparklepony favorite Tzipi Livni has been saying things like "The fact that a terrorist was killed, and it doesn't matter if it was in Dubai or Gaza, is good news to those fighting terrorism." Okay, I see--so we want terrorists dead. I understand that.
But is Hamas a terrorist organization? Have we established that as undeniable fact? Yes, the guy leads a group that regularly fires missiles into Jerusalem. But the Israelis are always firing missiles into the Palestinian areas, not to mention setting up illegal settlements on land that isn't theirs but the Palestinians.
And sure, the U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist organization but, in my opinion, the Bush-led U.S. was a terrorist government (and we still have Abu Ghraib and Gitmo to deal with, by the bye; they haven't gone away), so what does that label really mean? Sarah Palin has called President Obama a terrorist, so really--what does that label mean? What's the difference between someone who's just trying to defend himself and his people and someone who's actively trying to hurt innocent people and bring down their governments?
I've listened to the back and forth as the hugely outgunned and outmanned Hamas-led Palestinians fight for a bit of their homeland against the military behemoth of Israel. Who's the terrorist in that fight? Quite frankly, I think it depends on your point of view.
So back to the NPR story. The reporter interviewed a few Israelis who are actually proud and telling jokes about the assassination. People who happen to have a vague resemblance to the people who've been accused of being involved with the assassination are living it up, enjoying their look-alike celebrity.
Um... someone's dead. Have the Israeli people really gone so far down the "eye for an eye" path that they cheer when others are killed? They tell jokes about it?
Imagine that some U.S. operatives killed an important Iranian, someone who wasn't in a government position but was nonetheless the visible leader of an Irani movement. Would we Americans laugh and regard those U.S. operatives as heroes? Would we tell jokes about the assassination? Imagine we killed effing Fidel Castro. Would you or I really make up jokes about that?
I think there are a few Americans who might laugh and celebrate such an act. But I think they'd be likely to have a sticker like this on their gas-sucking truck:
I just don't know if I want to be associated anymore with people who would cheer a political assassination, no matter whether the victim "deserves" it or not.
P.S.--I hope none of my Jewish readers are offended by my desire to be Jewish and calling Jews "my people." And I hope no one's offended by my daring to question the actions of Israel and Israelis. It's just how I feel.