Does this make me smarter than the average person? I’m going out on a limb here, and I’m going to say, “Yes.” I’m not naturally smarter, but I have made the effort to be informed, and I tend to have a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of events that happen in the past.
To be fair, I don’t know the names of the characters or actors on any “CSI” show. I am truly stupid when it comes to TV trivia, a trade-off I’m comfortable with.
When you have a different outlook on things, one based on nuance and esoteric information most are not privy to, you tend to get a lot of people thinking you’re stupid, ignorant, nuts, or all of the above. For those wondering the difference between stupidity and ignorance: stupid is something you’re born with, ignorance is something you learn (or more often, the result of what you refuse to learn).
When I get e-mails about my stance on Israel/Palestine, a strange thing happens. Generally, people assume I have come to my decision to oppose the formation and existence of Israel through some sort of ignorance, or worse, anti-Semitism. People feel compelled to explain to me, at great length, the “history” of Israel. I use quotes, because usually it’s not a history, so much as a series of unconnected events used to justify a crime against humanity.
I got one such e-mail the other day. The e-mail was 6 pages long when I copied and pasted it to Word, and the sender was confused as to why it didn’t fit in the comments of my blog, insisting I check to see what the error was, because they tried posting it in many different browsers.
Now, before you question the intelligence of this person based on such a silly thing, why don’t I share with you the pre-amble to this “history lesson”:
Usually I wouldn't comment on a blog post by such a small minded, uneducated antisemite masquerading as as [sic] a morally superior anti-zionist, but I'm in a funny mood so what the hell.
Oy vey… this is going to be a hoot, I can tell already.
I contemplated posting the e-mail in full (without the person’s contact info, of course), but frankly… it’s just too long and rambling. I felt like the whole thing never got to the point, even as I was reading the last paragraph. I kept waiting for the history lesson, for something interesting, for anything new, perhaps some novel argument or angle. But no, it’s the same pre-packaged, freeze-dried propaganda I see out of all pro-Israel clowns.
Instead, I’ll try to cull out of the primary arguments, the same stock bullshit I see on a regular basis when discussing this issue, and I’ll explain why these ideas are empty and meaningless to me.
Perhaps one of the strangest points people make when discussing Israel with me is the definition and origin of the very concept of “nation.” I’m quite familiar with the idea of what a nation is or isn’t, how they came about, and all of that. For some reason, it’s a compelling argument for Jews to say that “Palestine was not a nation.”
I’m assuming this is how the logic works: there was no nation of Palestine prior to the formation of the nation of Israel, ergo, there are no Palestinians who have any claim to the land.
Here’s why this makes no sense: it doesn’t matter if a person is living in a tribal system or a national system. Coming to people’s homes at gunpoint and dislocating them against their will from a place their ancestors have lived for generations is criminal.
It also doesn’t matter that Britain controlled the land and was “legally allowed” to do what they did. You can’t hide behind the mask of Colonialism and pretend that just because everything was done “by the books,” that it’s okay. I would have thought that the Jews, of all people, would be sympathetic to the idea that a government order to carry out an immoral act does not justify that act. Apparently the Holocaust was acceptable, since we have all the paperwork and it was clearly done with full bureaucratic approval…
Except, that’s not how morality works…
So anyway, Nazi comparisons aside, another common argument I see constantly brought up is the persecution Jews have experienced in the diaspora or while in the Holy Land prior to the formation of Israel. I’m not 100% sure why everyone mentions this. I guess I’m supposed to shed a tear and feel sorry for the Jews as a people, and then turn a blind eye to what they decide to do now, today.
This is a pretty piss-poor attitude. “Well, horrible things happened to my people, so I can do whatever I want now.” That is what I hear when I listen to people lecture me on the persecution of Jews while defending the existence of Israel.
I also think, “Yeah, what a great idea, let’s encourage anti-Semitism by telling Jews they’ll never be able to be accepted by other cultures. Instead of encouraging tolerance, let’s ship them all back to Israel. Next step: shipping the niggers back to Africa.”
That’s truly a healthy way of looking at things: let’s ship people we don’t like someplace else. And not just anyplace else, we’ll move them someplace where people already lived, and in the process, we’ll create a whole new population of oppressed people from that general region.
Frankly, I find the very notion of Israel to be anti-Semitic. I see the “Jewish Problem” in Europe being “solved” by a bunch of Jew-hating Western nations shipping their Jews off to the world’s largest concentration camp, conveniently surrounded by people who already hate them. Sounds like a good recipe for Jewish extermination.
Another major argument I read regarding why I should have sympathy for Israel is that Israel is constantly being attacked. These people generally leave out the “why,” and when I ask them why Israel is attacked, I generally get no real answer. The reply I most often hear revolves around “anti-Semitism,” which is the catch-all argument for everything having to do with Jews or Israel.
News flash: the people attacking Israel are largely people who have been adversely affected by the very creation of Israel, or are sympathetic to the victims of these violations. Israel routinely uses excessive force and needlessly kills scores of innocent civilians in their campaign to instill fear in the surrounding non-Jewish communities. Entire villages are decimated because of reports of rocket fire perpetrated by just a few individuals in the area.
The Muslim people in the region have grown to hate Israel, and I would argue that they’re justified in their violent rage. I don’t condone specific acts of violence, but I fully understand that when an outside, foreign people invade and occupy your home, there are going to be plenty of people in the affected communities who fight such a thing. Personally, I would get the fuck out of the whole area and try to start over, but the urge to defend your home is generally seen as an acceptable response to invasion… unless, apparently, those invaders are Jewish and they have UN approval.
It’s strange, really, because people who support these Jewish foreign occupiers ask me, “Don’t people have a right to defend their homes?” When they say this, they always mean the Israelis should have a right to defend Israel, not that the people whose homes they took have a right to defend what was theirs.
These are basically the only arguments I ever hear made. There are other distractionary points hurled from time to time, irrelevant tangents which serve only to muddy the waters. Things like, “The US took land from the Indians” or “Israel is a beacon of Western democracy” don’t address the facts at hand, they are merely meant to veer the discussion off course, because if one focuses solely on the events as they occurred, there is no conclusion one can come to besides complete and utter dismissal of the right of Israel to exist as a nation.
This is important, because as an American, my country’s stance on Israel is just another dark-spot on our history. We funnel billions in cash and weapons to Israel to fund ongoing war crimes. Speaking out against Israel can get you fired in the US, especially if you work in the press. No federal politician dares to speak out, for fear of being labeled an “anti-Semite” or losing out on huge amounts of pro-Israeli lobby cash.
At some point, every sane and rational person is going to see Israel for the travesty that it is, even if it’s decades from now, through the retrospective lens of history. I hope there are still plenty of Jews around then to see the error of their ways.
And one final note: if you can’t make an argument in favor of Israel without using the term “anti-Semitism,” you are a lazy and ignorant debater.