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If CP readers have not already, please read John Wight’s hard-hitting The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists, July 31. I take a slightly different approach. – Norman Pollack
All of Israel is responsible for the horrifying death by fire of 18 month-old Ali and his father, an act not of an extreme religious fringe but a collective nihilistic atrocity of a society whose presumed zealotry on behalf of God disguises bottomless hatred for humanity outside its self-imposed boundaries. The terrain of its identity is not heaven but earth, God used promiscuously and advantageously to justify barbaric practice in affirming its own superiority. Even now, small gathering in Zion Square, no nationwide protest to demand the removal of the government and Netanyahu—of course not; perhaps fortunately, because whatever would take their place would be still worse, more hateful, exclusionary, the raw meat of militarism capable of the bombing of Iran, ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, criminalizing whatever little dissent is left.
What a horrible blight on Judaism, an ancient world religion which has brought my family the comfort and security of a loving God, One who instills hope in the poor, the downtrodden—not just Jews but all who suffer under repression. I would have thought the Nazi experience, among the cruelest, inhumane in history, had taught a permanent lesson, especially to Jews, but really to all peoples, about persecution of others, its evilness per se. But I find I am wrong; the world has grown increasingly hostile to human rights on every continent, joined by the amassing of power. Still, this is hardly pretext for what Israel is getting away with probably from its inception (although I was too young at the time to catch on). The murder of young Ali, and the night before, 17-year-old Shira Banki, in which we see the breadth of ethnocentrism, the interconnectedness of gay rights and Palestinian autonomy on the part of a fear-driven society, fearful not of the outside world but of the presumed enemy within.
Yes, Tel Aviv, unlike Jerusalem, has a swinging night life, yet Shira’s murder also did not arouse national anger, and, truth be told, so deep is the allegiance to a repressive state, gays, whether or not intimidated, did not come out in protest against both of the murders. Ali and Shira, both victims of Israel’s own diseased interior hegemony, speaks volumes about how much Israel blasphemes Judaism, stretching now across the ocean to interfere with and sabotage the nuclear treaty with Iran, itself having only a slight glimmer of fairness given Obama’s consistent record of foreign-policy confrontation, intervention, etc., on behalf of US global supremacy. When even a Rightist administration’s chicanery and use of power politics isn’t good enough for Israel, we can see how far Israel has shifted rightward on the political spectrum. And now American Jewry appears to follow in lockstep, AIPAC and its network of supporters more vociferous and vocal perhaps than ever.
It was not always thus. In the first two-thirds of the 20th century, American Jews were known for support of two things, the arts and radicalism, both often joined and enjoying the respect of the Jewish community, reaching even to the upper-middle class, as in the case of participants in the Mississippi Freedom Summer. No longer, blind devotion to Israel translating into Adelson-style politics at home, carte blanche for Israel’s demand for absolute conformity in Israel, steady pressure on America to pursue a world course of militarism not irrelevant to the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS, and the restructuring of the global framework to ensure Israel’s security interpreted primarily to mean the weakening of Left governments in Europe and suppression of indigenous radical social forces in developing countries. Israel and the US: joined at the hip in instinctive counterrevolution, the world’s apathy about Israeli outrages to be explained in part by the nuclear warfare both countries represent. This, too, from my perspective, is a defamation of Torah, little mediocre persons acting like God Himself, their followers worshipping mega-tonnage of bombs rather than the Golden Calf.
Where will it all end? My lost Judaism may never be restored. Proudly working class and proletarian (even when outside either), proudly integrationist, proudly progressive as in supporting a whole range of organizations, campaigns, strikes, proudly as writers, actors, composers, putting their talents to work in the fight against intolerance and bigotry, and in the fight for solidarity and brotherhood. I write with tears because so much beauty and social decency is disappearing from our lives as a nation, as Jews, as individual human beings–for what? For a reversion to fascism, seemingly unstoppable, with America and Israel in a far from negligible role in bringing it about. There will be more Alis and Shiras, more crocodile tears, further repression, the Israeli populace averting their gaze so as not to come to terms with the evil they have created. Is there any longer a Jewish conscience?