Usually I talk about sex, but Israel’s most recent, gut-wrenching horrors wreaked upon Palestinian people have propelled me, like a virtual kick from behind, to step out of my *comfort zone* and say that I am deeply embarrassed as a Jew.
Yes, as a Jew. No, I’m not an Israeli, certainly not a Zionist, and not a religious or even a practicing Jew. Actually, I’m a pretty blasphemous Jew (especially on my show), as well as a Wandering Jew, an agnostic ethical hedonist bonoboësque Jew; but a Jew nonetheless, certainly by Hitler’s standards.
So, for me, as a Jew, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is, in addition to being an atrocity, a tragedy and a war crime, an embarrassment.
In Yiddish, they call it a shanda, a terrible shame, and that’s what I feel: Ashamed.
I often say we should not feel ashamed of our sexuality, that various religions, governments, parents and schools throughout human history have made us feel ashamed in ways we really shouldn’t. But we should feel shame if we do something wrong, that is, something that hurts someone else, sexually or otherwise. There is also such a thing as communal shame—just as there is communal ecstasy and grief—when a community you are connected to has done something wrong. Though I personally haven’t done anything wrong here and have long opposed Israel’s apartheid in Palestine, nevertheless I feel shame for the appalling actions of some of my fellow Jews in Israel, aided by America.
Yes of course, aided by America, Israel’s bestie, and being American, I feel double the shame because all of those deadly bombs Israel has been dropping are being paid for by the place where I live and pay taxes. Some say this means the Jews control America, a twist on the old antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion that suggests Jewish people somehow control the world. Though there are a few Jews in high places—the odious Henry Kissinger, Javanka and Stephen Miller come to mind—I think it’s mostly the other way around. America controls Israel, though neither country likes to confess that truth. In a way, the much ballyhooed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are a branch of the American Military-Industrial Complex. Every bomb killing Palestinians makes money for some Americans.
As Counterpunch editor Jeffrey St. Claire tweets, “There’s a theory that Israel controls US politics, that the most powerful war-making state the world has ever known is a mere puppet of Israel, incapable of asserting its own agenda. But in fact the US finances Israel. It is dependent on us. Its crimes are ours. We paid for them.” Now Israel’s crimes are multiplying so fast, we can’t keep up with them.
John Oliver offers a good tip on what it means to be besties: “America is an unwavering friend to Israel… and at the end of the day, I would hope that a real friend would tell me when I’m being an asshole, and definitely when I’m committing a fucking war crime.”
Exactly, friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Israel is now intoxicated on “expansion” (a euphemism for ethnic cleansing), and America needs to take the keys—the bombs, the money, the support—away… like, yesterday.
Here’s what Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield has to say about Jews like me: “If you are Jewish and you are a Democrat and you are living in America today, how do you support an administration that turns its back on your home country?”
My home country? Sounds like the former guy telling the Squad to “go back to where they came from” even though three of them were born here. I visited Israel once for six weeks at age 16. Before that, in my very American Sunday school, I was taught that Israel was “a land without people for a people without land.” When I got there, I was naïvely shocked to see there were people in that land, and then, slowly, I came to realize a genocide was being committed against them in the name of “my” people, the Jews.
What a lie I (and so many more) had been taught. This lie was a lot worse than that silly little lie about Fake Elijah drinking the wine on Passover that I refused to believe when I was five years old, B.I. (Before Indoctrination). Though, one lie leads to another.
According to Newsmax, if I’m not rooting for my “Home Country” like a home team, no matter what, I’m a bad Jew. Of course, I’m already a bad Jew for various reasons, but not because I don’t support Israel’s vicious bombing and apartheid treatment of the Palestinians whose main “crime” is to be simply living in their “home country.”
If I have a “home country,” it’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., or maybe Los Angeles, California where, between the two, I’ve spent my life squatting on land stolen from the Natives in an American genocide which inspired the atrocities of both Hitler and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu.
Several of my fellow Counterpunchers, as well as Bernie Sanders (“Palestinian Lives Matter”), David Steinberg and even the MSM have said that Bibi diabolically orchestrated the current mess to maintain power because he was losing it, which appears to be working, as now he’s back in the saddle again. It’s true that sleazy Bibi, like his Zionist mentor Ariel Sharon, have made Israel even more militaristic, fascistic and geared to the odious Religious Right, including many Christians that despise Jews and want them in charge of Israel for that reason, as well as ammosexual Orthodox Jewish extremists and even Israeli Proud Boys. Yes, it’s gotten that bad.
Israel has become what my late grandmother might call “a shanda for the goyim.” According to the Jewish Language Project, “To be a ‘shanda for the goyim’ is to confirm the most hurtful stereotypes, thereby doing damage twice: a Jew who dishonors Jews by not only doing something bad, but doing something that confirms the worst fears of others about Jews in general.”
Call me a “self-hating Jew,” if you like, and right now, I do *hate* that side of myself that’s genetically and/or ethnically related to these despicable destroyers of apartment houses, media buildings, medical facilities, family homes and the people inside them—broken bodies, lost lives—unspeakable brutalities! Yet we must try to speak about them. And I must try to speak out against them, or I am complicit, like those Germans who didn’t speak out against the Nazis exterminating some other distant relatives of mine (and theirs) who happened to be Jewish.
Right now, we have an opportunity to be heard, so we need to speak louder.