Don’t You Dare Call Me Anti-Semitic

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again:

The government of Israel is not entitled to crush the human rights of Palestinians in its pursuit of some Zionist’s dream of the perfect Israeli state.

This statement does not make me anti-Semitic, so don’t you dare try to pin that label on me.

The statement means I believe in human rights. It means I believe the Palestinians are human. It means I abhor the militant Zionism that has violated the rights of Palestinians for over sixty years.

With the rest of the world, I have watched while Palestinian land has melted away like patches of snow in the sun. Soon, the little puddles left will evaporate, letting militant Zionists warp history to fit the fable that the modern state of Israel was founded on a “land with no people.”

It’s odd how this land with no people contained stone houses where successive generations of Palestinians lived without interruption for five hundred years before the state of Israel was established.  How much of the world heard the sound of large stones crashing down when those houses were bulldozed by monolithic Caterpillar (made in the USA) earthmovers?

Of course, everyone heard the sound of small stones hitting ground near the feet of armored Israeli soldiers carrying automatic weapons. Flung by angry Palestinian youth, these small stones were presented to the world as a symbol of unprovoked aggression, while the government of Israel hid the provocation behind news blackouts and censored reports.

Then the sound of stones hitting ground morphed into the sound of explosives launched from the Palestinian side of a wall cutting through Palestinian land. Maybe we wouldn’t be listening to the sound of explosives if we had paid more attention to the sound of stones.

Let me repeat:

The government of Israel is not entitled to violate the rights of Palestinians in its pursuit of the perfect Israeli state.

This statement does not make me anti-Semitic, so don’t you dare pin that label on me.

In my association with the peace community, I have worked with a diverse group of people. Many of those people are Jews. Some of them go to temple, some attend Unitarian services, some eschew religious observances in favor of secular activism. I don’t try to keep track, any more than I keep track of the religious habits of the Episcopalians, Buddhists, Quakers, Muslims, Catholics, atheists, Methodists, or secular humanists in the peace community.

Some Jews serve the Peace and Justice Center on the board of directors. Some produce regular musical events to raise funds that help defray the center’s operating costs. One volunteer is a self-described anarchist (non-violent) who can lecture on the history of the labor movement at the drop of a hat. Another teamed up with her friends from Central America to produce a monthly bilingual film series (Spanish films with English subtitles or vice versa) offered to the surrounding community for free.

One center volunteer used her time there to work with a stressed-out, mentally ill man whose behavior can scare people, teaching him to lower his voice and speak slowly and clearly, so he can communicate successfully and fit in with the group.

Another stepped in to help defend her friend’s god-daughter against a trumped-up charge of felony kidnapping during a child custody fight. This saint spent a mind-boggling amount of time and personal resources, recruiting and housing a pro-bono attorney, and organizing a little army of supporters to attend hearings and write letters in the years-long struggle to get the criminal case dismissed so the god-daughter could go with her family back to the life they had built in Mexico.

There are other Jews in that peace community, probably more than I know, since I don’t make a habit of asking people about their religion or race or cultural heritage. That information is revealed in the natural course of working together on events and issues. By the way, many of the Jews I know speak out eloquently for the rights of the Palestinian people. I’ve worked with these people, and they are my friends. So don’t try to pin the label of anti-Semitism on me.

A few years ago, a member of the peace community went to the Middle East with a delegation to observe conditions in Gaza. When she returned, she told us what she had seen, and gave us copies of her report to a citizen hearing. I haven’t tried yet to obtain her permission to quote that report, but back then what she told us prompted me to write a short poem “On Gaza Soil,” which ends with a statement some people might see as overly provocative. The poem was printed as a newspaper letter-to-the editor a few years ago. I’ve added it to this website on another page.

Let me say this again: the government of Israel is not entitled to crush the lives of Palestinians in its pursuit of some Zionist’s dream of the perfect Israeli state. This statement is not anti-Semitic; it is pro-human rights.

About Deanne E. Gwinn

Writer: screenplays, fiction, poetry
This entry was posted in anti-Semitism, human rights, Israel, Middle East, Palestine. Bookmark the permalink.

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