I looked forward to your article on Palestine, although I wished you had done a show on the radio using this very same material. Your dissertation is comprehensive, but it does leave out some key facts, which I will get to.
As one of those kids growing up no to far from you in Queens, I do indeed remember lots of people, including my old man, making negative comments about the Jews, and it certainly did affect my own formation. With such a heavy emphasis on the negative stereotypes, what would any kid do but be swayed that way. I was never throwing rocks, but I do remember Nazi insignias being spray painted on to a house in the area I lived in, a house that was occupied by Jews. As I grew older, and had more substantial contact with actual Jews in school and what not, I definitely recognized that these people were different, and from my tainted conditioning, some of the stereotypes were validated. That was all I was looking for, that is all I knew to look for.
Fortunately, as an adult, I have rubbed shoulders with many Jews, and have developed numerous acquaintances and friends over the years with Jews. In so doing, I became knowledgeable about the culture, the food, the intellectual tradition, the humor, and loved much of it, as much as that of any other ethnic group I have come into close contact with. I credit the presence of the Jews in my life with the cultivation of my own politics and sensitivities, which I regard as left and progressive, to use the those labels, to the extent they mean anything. These people were different, just as the Irish were different, the Italians were different, etc. and we all, sometimes, live up to our stereotypes, good and bad, don’t we?
And it for the greater understanding of these people that I personally suffer with conflict over what I see in Zionism, Palestine and the people who call themselves Israelis. Your thorough article did point out how the Arab people that occupied that land did so for 1400 years; these people we know as the Palestinians. If 1400 years does not make you indigenous, I do not know what does. And throughout history, we have always noticed that “settlers” always have one pesky problem – those indigenous populations.
No matter what spin you want to put on it, Mike, what the right wing has perpetrated on the Palestinian people now for 50 years, and more, is nothing less than one of the great large scale crimes in human history. And, be honest – no where in your article do you mention the billions and billions and dollars that flow from this USA to Israel in the form of direct aid, military goodies, and much more. The West, especially the US and Britain, in the typically cynical and racist ways they love to do things, used this situation to their advantage, to fulfill the agenda of oil power and empire. Recognizing that empire could be established with the help of surrogates, what better cover that providing the beleaugered Jews with a homeland. Cynical,indeed. The people who put that together never gave a damn about the Jews, and still, probably, do not.
What is so sad, so sad, is that the Palestinian people probably would have been able to exist with the Jews, side by side, quite peacefully. These were largely a peaceful people, and it is disgusting what they have been reduced to. There is not one town in Israel that was not hijacked, renamed, etc. while many Jews, especially the ones in the USA, would have you believe that the Jews just showed up in this wasteland one day and turned it into the land of milk and honey. Well, it may look like that from 50,000 feet up, but if you look more closely, you might see something different. Equally sad is how the best of the Jews, the “left” if you will, recognizes this, even as those voices are ignored or silenced, here, and in Israel. Many examples of this are well documented; one has to only look at the recent Israeli army and air force officers that would rather be in jail than do the bidding of their masters. If this army can have that happen, this best trained army in the wo
rld as they like to claim, one can only imagine the ranks of people there who cannot live with a clear conscience as they walk down the streets that are paved with blood of many, unnecessarily.
For this progressive, intellectual people, was this the only way to have a homeland? History will judge the state Israel, and God certainly will. The chosen people of God should know better, and it is really sickening to see this religious cover used, time and time again, as the means of legitimzing everything that is done. Surely, this is not a phenomena that is specific to this situation; witness our own idiot in the white house waving flag and proclaiming that God blesses America. The Jews in America who turn their back on this injustice really have to examine their consciences. I do not envy them, for to live with this type of thing cannot be easy.
It is a shame that speaking out and doing anything but going along with the party line brands one as an anti-Semite (a term that is incredibly misunderstood). You may even react to me that way, Mike, although I hope you do not.
I am still not throwing rocks, but I feel pretty disappointed in a people that should know better, and refuse to, as a group, do the just thing, and stop this atrocity with their collective and now, very powerful, voice. How should I interpret the true nature of this group witnessing that?
You’re a good man, Mike, and I appreciate your presence at BAI…I hope you keep putting it out there for us.
God Bless you.
– Mike Feder (New York City – October 10, 2003)