In Opposition to Anti-Semitism
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. 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 who share our views.
The history of anti-Semitism is long, and 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 six million Jews in Europe, but also close to an additional six million Slavs, Roma, political prisoners, Soviet prisoners of war, and homosexuals). If I feel there is a moral obligation to criticize the actions of the Israeli government, and to urge an end of all US 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 US tax dollar is not funding those actions, while over the years billion and billions of US 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.
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.
David McReynolds worked for the War Resisters League for many years, and in 1980 and 2000 ran for president as the candidate of Socialist Party USA. He is retired and lives with his two cats on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Contact David at: email@example.com.