Monday, May 09, 2005

Anger and Fear

Many people in the pro-Palestine movements have witnessed Zionist atrocities up close, others have friends who have been hurt. I can understand, when criticize me for too much philosemitism.
It´s so much easier for me, who has never been touched directly by all the cruelty inflicted in the name of Zionism, to have a concilatory attitude towards Jews.
If I´d ever been hurt personally I quite likely would be a loud raving anti-semite. But if this should ever happen to me, I hope that people would realize, that those ravings would just be a reaction on being hurt and would weigh the things I have said and written before as my more accurate attitude.
For I believe, that reaching out to the Jewish people is not only a religious duty for a Christian, it is also a very important tactic in the struggle for peace.

Gilad Azmon and Israel Shamir believe that Jews need to give up their identity of being Jewish in order to reconcile with the rest of humanity. I have not subscribed to Shamir's newsletter, although I read it regurlarly, because I believe that to demand from Jews to give up their Jewish identity will probably not work.
A feeling of identity is such an important psychological factor wihtin a person, it´s for many people next to impossible to give it up.
I didn´t realize before I started living permanently here in Iceland, how important my German identity is for me. And I´m definitly not one who keeps yelling: I´m proud to be a German. That´s considered a Neo-nazi attitude.
I have lived here for so many years, I could apply for Icelandic citizenship, but I haven't done it yet because until recently I thought I would loose my German one.
There would be a lot less historical baggage and sometimes negative attitude to carry, if I could identify as an Icelander, but I just can´t. For better or worse I´m German.
The same is true for my religion. In my late teens I went from the Catholic to another church, because I was turned off by the insincerity and the liberal sexual attitudes of my catholic peers and fell for the promise of a more family oriented church with no drinking, smoking and more strict sexual rules.
With time I realized, that I couldn´t stand the Old Testamentarian attitude and the America centeredness of that church, but I would have stayed anyway for the sake of family and friends, found some niche for me somehow, but I didn´t because I couldn´t find any spirituality there.
I finally realized why I couldn´t find it, when I went back to the Catholic church: I had missed the rituals most and foremost. I do not believe, that only Catholics go to heaven, or only Christians or only religious people, but I do believe that I myself go to heaven as a Catholic or not at all, for my spirituality I only can find in the Catholic church.

Of course not everybody is like me and there are many who can find a new national identity or spirituality outside their childhood faith, but nevertheless there are for sure a lot of people who can´t.
Jewish national identity is not bound to national borders, but still it is a traditional national identity. And many Jews have a religious identity as well, but this does not mean, that they have to indentify with all the ancient precepts. There are quite a lot of different attitudes to what it means to be a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Hindu.

So I think, for a Jew to reconcile with the rest of the world does not necessarily mean he has to give up Jewish identity, he could reconcile with Jewish history instead.
Avigail Abarbanel writes on her blog, that the Jewish people is traumatized and that this is what lies mostly behind the Zionist atrocities.
Of course most Jews living today have not lived through Nazi persecution themselves. It is not what has them traumatized, rather what was told to them about this persecution together with other instances of persecution in history is traumatizing Jews.
And again its not the historical events, but the perception of those historical events, what traumatizes Jews.
Into this perception belongs the belief, that the Jewish people has been the most persecuted in the world and that they are in danger of persecution all the time.And so, very often when Jews perceive that gentiles are angry at some Jews even for quite legitimite reason that trauma comes up. Trauma, that´s true for Jews and for Gentiles, makes normally decent people act, talk and think irrational. For decent people to justify Zionist injustice and brutality in any way, is irrational.

Many people within the pro-Palestine movement feel angry when they hear about another act of Zionist oppression and murder. And because there are so many Jews who justify Zionism, this anger is sometimes directed at Jews per se. And its natural, that people get angry, when somebody they care for is hurt so badly. And the members of the pro-Palestine movements have all started to care deeply for the Palestinian people, even if they are not Palestinian themselves.
The trouble is, that Jews, who are conditioned by this certain perception of history, will perceive this anger as hatred, as unreasonable anti-semitism and react with an even closer bond to Zionism.
Anger is in my opinion counterproductiv, if you want to break this bond.
"Love your enemy" is actually a method to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles to peace.
You keep on trying to get the enemy to reciprocate your love, even if it takes a long time.
On the other hand I do not think, that it is productive to accept and even promote a distorted perception of history, in order to make Jewish people trust you.
It quite obviously does not work. At the memoration of the Ausschwitz liberation, the whole UN was singing, or at least listening to, the Israeli national anthem, in spite of there having died many people from many other nations as well, and Israel had not even existed at the time. It was as if everybody was agreeing to that Jews, represented by Israel were the only victims of Nazi brutality. And still Zionist does not trust gentiles and feel constantly threatened.

"And they will know the truth, and the truth shall make them free."

The cause for Jewish trauma, persecution-complex or mass-paranoia, however you will call it, is a misconception of history. And this has to be overcome.
And yes, when you start to attack Jewish history, most Jews will perceive it as attack on the Jewish people, since national history is often tied to identity and yes, they will react with anger or fear.
But there is just no way around it. And in the long run one doesn´t have to loose one´s identity when one accepts a more accurate and less sanitized version of one´s people´s history.
We Germans had to do it, and we can live with it.
And for me personally it means to not only stifle anger when it comes up in me, but to do my best to actually overcome it and overcome fear as well.
For yes, of course I´m afraid. I fear, that Zionist pressure on the American government for war in behalf of Israel will lead to an unlimited world-war. But fear is just as big a hinderance for a peaceful world as anger is.
Racism is just another word for xenophobia (fear of strangers), antisemitism another one for judeophobia (fear of Jews) and there is no word for what Zionists feel for non-Jews, but you can call it Gentile-phobia.