David McReynolds :
In opposition to Israeli actions, and to anti-Semitism

It is a grave error to attack Jews anywhere based on the actions of the Israeli government.

lyon gaza demo

Protest in Lyon, France, July 16, 2014, against Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Demonstrations in Europe, especially in France, are becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. Photo by AFT.

By David McReynolds | The Rag Blog | July 20, 2014

In recent days there has been a flurry of anti-Semitic outbursts in France and elsewhere, clearly triggered by Israel’s military actions against the Palestinians in Gaza. I’m depressed enough about the whole situation that I have not yet written my own views on the tragedy of Gaza, but it is crucial that no one, anywhere in the world, should take out on a local Jewish community center or synagogue their justified anger against the Israeli regime.

Many Jews outside of Israel do support the Israeli actions, and many have openly opposed those actions. Indeed, some of the leading and sharpest critics of Israel have come from the Jewish community.

It is a grave error to attack Jews anywhere based on the actions of the Israeli government.

EDGE LEFT

It is urgent, in organizing demonstrations against the Israeli bombing of Gaza, its blockade of Gaza, its holding of Palestinian prisoners, etc., to make it clear we are acting out of humanitarian concern for the Palestinians and that we are aware that at least a minority of Israeli Jews share our views.

The history of anti-Semitism is long; it is always reactionary. We saw its most unspeakable expression in the Holocaust of the last century. (A period of mass murder which not only cost the lives of 6 million Jews in Europe, but also close to an additional 6 million Slavs, Roma, political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, and homosexuals.)

peace protester in tel aviv

Israeli peace demonstrator  in Tel Aviv holds sign with image of Mahatma Gandhi, July 3, 2014. Photo by Melanie Lidman / The Times of Israel.

If I feel there is a moral obligation to criticize the actions of the Israeli government, and to urge an end of all U.S. military and economic aid to Israel, I feel there is also a deep moral obligation to oppose any hint that our opposition is unique to the situation in Israel.

Some friends have asked why I do not speak with equal vigor about the oppression of human rights elsewhere — for example the murderous campaign of ISIS in Iraq. In fact I do speak out on those issues, along with many of my fellow pacifists and socialists. But the U.S. tax dollar is not funding those actions, while over the years billions and billions of U.S. dollars have poured into Israel, and pro-Israel elements, both among the Christian Zionists and in the American Jewish community, have intimidated Congress so that to raise one’s voice against the government of Israel is to risk the end of one’s career.

Our questions relate to the actions of the government in Israel, not to the beliefs of the Jewish people, whether they are secular or religious.

It is for this reason that Americans have a special obligation to raise questions about the actions of the Israeli government. But our questions relate to the actions of the government in Israel, not to the beliefs of the Jewish people, whether they are secular or religious. Jews must have the right to worship or gather without fear, in the same way that Muslims in the United States must not have their human rights abridged, regardless of their views on matters in the Middle East.

If nothing else, let the recent cowardly murders of Jewish youth. and a Palestinian child in Israel, shock us into an awareness of the dangers. I have been heartbroken by the news that French Jews are considering leaving for Israel because of the rise of attacks they have faced. Let every mosque and synagogue be secure and safe, in our country, and anywhere in the world..

EdgeLeft is an occasional column by David McReynolds. Read more articles by David McReynolds on The Rag Blog.

[David McReynolds was on the staff of War Resisters League for 39 years and was the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate in 1980 and 2000. He and the late Barbara Deming were the subjects of Martin Duberman’s dual biography, The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds. David is retired, and lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with his two cats. He can be reached at davidmcreynolds7@gmail.com.]

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6 Responses to David McReynolds :
In opposition to Israeli actions, and to anti-Semitism

  1. Ben says:

    ” Let every mosque and synagogue be secure and safe, in our country, and anywhere in the world..” Good luck on that one bud. This will not change until humans transcend their own hubris… you know, the one that says “… yeah, but I actually know what needs to be done.” Sound familiar?

  2. I appreciate David’s point here. Whether they as individuals side with Israel in this conflict or not, Jews threatened by people abroad, as Jews, because of this conflict, are as much worthy of left-wing support as are American Muslims who were uninvolved with the attacks on 9/11.

    It seems increasingly clear that neither the Netanyahu government nor the Hamas regime in Gaza are willing to move toward a peaceful resolution of their conflict. While Israelis need protection from random rocket and mortar fire, as well as infiltration through tunnels into their sovereign territory, Gazans need to be sprung from imprisonment in their small enclave and safeguarded from massive Israeli reprisals. How all this is going to be achieved (and soon) is a conundrum.

  3. SVH says:

    I appreciate this article. Thank you.

  4. Thanks, David, an important article, but I don’t think folks who go around attacking synagogues (or mosques) over the actions of clearly secular governments, whatever religious trappings they may don, are much interested in reason.

    The depths of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the horrors inflicted upon and by all parties, the perceived Biblical roots of conflict in Abraham’s disavowal of his handmaiden’s son left to die in the desert, all mitigate against the application of logic, compassion, or even the principles of the religions supposedly defended. Throw in the oil, Jesus, 9-11, and there is no telling who will be seen as the enemy by those who seek enemies. Oh, and the meddling West, let us not forget the meddling, washing-its-bloody-hands West! The Israel Lobby must be exposed.

  5. Larry Piltz says:

    What Mariann says. Also, an eye for an eye and you could put somebody’s eye out. I think Gandhi said that on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

  6. Ian Monoe says:

    It’s disingenuous to lay all the blame on Israel, Zionists, AIPAC, etc. The Israeli state takes its marching orders from the US–end of story. The idea that Israel somehow manipulates the US into doing its bidding in some kind of wag the dog scenario is, as the English say, a ginormous load of bollocks. With no US support (and by extension, European support) Israel would very quickly negotiate the kind of two state solution sensible heads have been proposing all along. You want to know who’s responsible for the war crimes in Gaza? Look in a mirror.

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