Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where's the Outrage?

Where's the Outrage?

by Stephen P. Pizzo

Go To Original

First I want to wish you all a happy Watergate Burglary Day. It's been 37-years today, and it seems like yesterday. They just don't make Republicans like that anymore...... (Just kidding.)

Now onto something I struggle with more and more lately. In a nutshell it boils down how everyone of sound mind answers the following question:

Can we be objective when trying to tease truth and justice out of the maelstrom of accusations, claims and mutual violence between Israel and the Palestinians? I grew up watching documentaries of the Holocaust and both documentaries and dramatizations of the Exodus. I remember clearly the first time I saw "those photos" of Nazi death camps. I was a pre-teen and I was shaken to my young, white, suburban gentile core.

Years later I was a green-behind-the-ears radio announcer at teeny, tiny AM station in the boondocks of Northern California. It was June 1967 and the old news teletype machine's bells began clanging more times than I'd ever heard before. I ripped the copy paper out of the machine, cut into the Lawrence Welk music and read the news: Israel's Arab neighbors had launched a joint attack against the fledgling Jewish state. Later that day I remarked that I now knew how the reporters who announced the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor must have felt.

Through all those years, from Israel's founding to that June war, the story has always been about "never again." Jews had been so wronged, for so long, by so many, that it was inconceivable that Jews themselves could do wrong, be wrong or — god forbid — wrong others. How could a people who suffered so simply brush aside becoming the source of the suffering of others? How could they address the unfairness and pain of the great Jewish diaspora by creating a Palestinian diaspora? How could Jews who lucky enough to survived the Warsaw Ghetto, recreate it in Gaza? (And NO, I am not drawing a moral equivalency between the two. I am only recognizing the unsettling similarities that, if the reader is being objective, do apply.)

With rare exceptions the American position on all things Israel has pretty much boiled down to, "Israel, right or wrong." But, despite what anti-Semites like to believe, the reasons for that are far more complicated than AIPAC's poliitcal influence or money. Israel sits smack dab in the middle of the most volatile and strategically important regions in the world. A part of the world where we get much of our energy. A region where US allies are far and few between. You don't just kick your only real friend in that region in the teeth whenever they run amok.

So there's nothing simple about America's relationship with Israel. And visa-versa. America is Israel's talisman, its backstop, its big brother, its security blanket of last resort. And no other nation on earth will do. For good and plenty reasons, Israel views Western European governments the same way a family pet views a member of the family that kicks it every time it gets in range. So it's America Israel turns to whenever the rest of the world makes noises Israel doesn't like.

Anyway, to my Jewish friends, I get it. I always got it. I understand the existential Swords of Damocles — real and imagined — Israelis feel hanging over their collective heads. Having said that though I, and a growing number of other Americans, have also begun to take notice of the suffering of the Palestinians, those bystanders swept aside in world's effort to make amends for it's centuries of antisemitism. It's the other half of the Exodus narrative that's gone untold, or simply ignored, for far too long.

Well, enough from me. The original question stands and remains to be answered: Can Americans of all faiths, points of view, nationalities and political leanings, treat the Israel/Palestine mess objectively?

We must of course. But can we? As one side gins up accusations of growing American antisemitism, and the other side accuses us of being in the "Zionists" pocket," can we? In a situation where both sides have committed the some of the ugliest behavior since World War II, can we treat each with respect and deference where appropriate, and unambiguous condemnation when our inner Jimmie Crickets whispers, "Now, that's just not right."

Here's an excellent article on that very subject.

Have a nice day.

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