Thursday, February 25, 2010

In which I renounce my Jewishness

First, a little background: For many many years now, I've told anyone who would listen that I'm Jewish. Why? because I like the Jewish faith. Their history, their traditions, their mystique--it's really interesting to me, so one day I asked a Jewish friend of mine (a Sabra Jew, no less!) if I could be Jewish too. She may have been humoring me (maybe), but she said I could be a Jew if two other Jews said yes too! Forget that whole mother/father issue; I could be a Jew!

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:

and they'd probably look like this:or this:
So, as much as I've enjoyed lighting up my little Jewish candles and wearing my Happy Hannukah socks, I'm not so thrilled with my people right now.

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.


pissed in NYC said...

It's not the jews who let you down, it's Israel leaders. Some dangerous people in that government (just like here!).

dguzman said...

That's true. But these were common people she was interviewing! Bartenders and stuff!

CDP said...

I heard that interview too. All it means is that there are as many chuckleheaded yahoos in Israel as there are here.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I have no beef with Jews. I have a huge beef with Zionists who want to do to the Palestinians what the Germans did to the Jews in the '30's and 40's.

Margaret Benbow said...

Your post is so thoughtful. It reminded me of that saying we used to hear in the '70's, "The Palestinians are the last victims of Hitler." Still tragically true today.

Randal Graves said...

I think you're a terrorist! Why? All Cowboys fans are terrorists!

Humans as a species are fucking stupid, so none of this surprises me.

Mauigirl said...

Dr. Monkey sums it up. I'm half Jewish myself but don't agree with many of the things that Israel has been doing.

dguzman said...

CDP--so true. I just thought that kind of stupidity was uniquely Amurkan....

Monkey--you're right, buddy. As usual.

Margaret--I'll have to remember that one. Sad but true.

Randal--Cleveland's full of terrorists! Just look at that "dog pound" place!

Mauigirl--it's just really hard to agree with a country that's gone so militaristic. Kinda like our country, only kosher.

Volly said...

Yes, Israel and the US seem to be running on parallel tracks over the last 30-some years. Once the standard-bearers of civilization and progressive thinking, they have both devolved into militaristic, right-wing machines with way too much extremist religion pushing its influence. All we can do is keep our eyes on the pendulum and hope for the best.

dguzman said...

Good points, Volly.