UPDATE: A link to this article was posted on http://thebrothersofjudea.blogspot.com . The Brothers of Judea is a website dedicated to fighting Antisemitism in HuffPo Talkback. If you want to read even more on this subject and get some good ideas on how to fight back I highly recommend reading it.
So, a funny thing happened to me the other day.
I started my day, as usual, by checking my email, Facebook and The Huffington Post. At HuffPo I was greeted by a pop-up window announcing a new feature – ‘badges’. You earn badges based on activity – # of comments made, # of comments or stories posted to a social network, etc. etc.
What surprised me was that I was already a Level 1 Huffington Post “Super User”. After all I only check the site once or twice a day and only comment when someone says something that is either factually incorrect or isn’t sourced. Well it turns out that those comments, as of this writing, come to a total of 229.
How the hell did that happen? I have only been commenting on the site for two months, maybe less. Yet there it was staring me in the face. 229 comments. I told myself it had to be a mistake, some kind of bug. But clicking on the Comments tab proved it was true. There they were, 229 comments made by me. Yet the biggest surprise was the comments themselves, 95% of them were in defense of Israel.
“Why is that a surprise?” you might be asking yourself. After all, I am a Jew and a strong believer in Israel. However, if you spoke to just about anyone in AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which calls itself America’s Pro-Israel Lobby; more on that later) they would call me ‘self-hating’ or ‘not a real Jew’. Why? Because I and a great deal,probably a majority, of American and European Jews believe, hell as a great deal of Israeli Jews believe, in a two state solution that includes a withdrawal to the Pre-1967 War borders.
In other words, I am capable of differentiating between Israel and and a specific Israeli government, just as I can differentiate the United States from its government (it was the only way to survive the Bush years without tearing my own eyes out). I can love Israel and hate current Israeli government policy which, for the most part, I do.
So there I am, skipping merrily along my way on HuffPo, reading an article about Obama’s hopes for Middle East Peace Talks, when I decide to scroll down to the comments.
Here on a liberal blog, where I found myself in agreement with the comments 95% of the time (the rest being trolls), was diatribe after diatribe attacking… well, honestly, the writers didn’t even seem to know exactly what they were attacking. I had been catapulted into a world where the words “Jew”, “Zionist”, “Israeli”, “Occupiers”, “Settlers”,”so-called Jewish”, “dual citizens” and “neo-cons” were all used interchangeably, as were “Palestinian”, “Jordanian”, “terrorist”, “PLO”, “Fatah”, “Hamas” – sometimes in the same sentence. It was a world where people whom I had read on other threads and seemed perfectly rational to me were practically frothing at the mouth. Maybe 1% of this frothing was coming from supporters of Israel; the other 99% of it was not.
Most of the supporters of Israel on HuffPo appear to be like me, active supporters of J Street, a new Jewish Political Action Committee founded specifically to counter the “Israel’s government is right no matter what” voice that is AIPAC. J Street supports a just Two State Solution and believes that the US Government must do more to work towards that goal, including putting real pressure on the Israeli Government. We believe that as long as the Israeli Government can count on AIPAC to assure U.S. financial aid and a total lack of US condemnation of bad behavior they will have no incentive to make peace. We also believe that given the natural population growth in the area, combined with other realities on the ground, that Israel will eventually destroy itself if it does not make peace with the Palestinians via a two state solution.
Now, try convincing your average HuffPo reader that this is a common feeling among Jews. That we really want peace, want a Palestinian Nation with Arab East Jerusalem as part of it’s territory, want the settlements shut down. Try convincing them that every Jew is not every Zionist is not every Israeli is not every settler. Just try. You will be balder than I am before the sun goes down.
I have learned not to be surprised by the ignorance that comes from the right wing fanatics, the tea baggers, the religious zealots, the birthers, and the truthers. What I have just started to come to grips with is that there is just as much ignorance on the left, and just as much discrimination.
Somehow when a Jew does something that is seen as objectionable by someone on HuffPo, it is “the Jews” that have done it. Lieberman – “the Jews”, Dershowitz – “the Jews”, the Neocons – “the Jews”, the State Department – “the Jews” and on and on. Never mind that most Jews I know consider both Lieberman and Dershowitz to be scumbags, that the majority of US Jews are liberals, or even that Dershowitz speaking on behalf of AIPAC has attacked J Street as being “Anti-Israel”. To these people we are all the same. J-Street, which openly fights with AIPAC, is referred to as “AIPAC-Light”. Some of these people even go as far as to believe that The Protocols Of The Elders of Zion are real, and that while the Holocaust was real the numbers are “exaggerated”. Some go as far as to say that Jews are “doing to the Palestinians what the Germans did to them”, which is both shockingly wrong and shockingly ignorant of the fact that there were a lot more than Germans “doing it to us” for a lot longer than they can imagine.
As Rachel Maddow has said many times about many things “You are entitled to your own opinion. What you are not entitled to is your own set of facts.” Yet these same people whom have quoted Maddow on other threads argue from their own set of facts.
What I suspect, though of course can not know, is that I am getting a feeling for what it must be like for the Doves in Israel. After all, that is the real battle. It is not Jew Vs. Palestinian or even Right Vs. Left. It is Hawk Vs. Dove. Jewish doves we will always be ‘the Jews” to the rest of the world and “self-hating Jews” or “Israel-bashers” to the Hawks among us .
How does a Jew advocate for real peace when non-Jews can’t tell us apart from those who do not, and Jews who do not advocate for real peace can not tell us apart from non-Jews? Will the Israeli Government and American Liberals, so desperately at odds with each other, allow us to save the Jewish State or will their hatred for each other crowd out the voices that most need to be heard – the Jew who is willing to compromise for peace? I also wonder, how much is the situation alike for Palestinian doves – whom AIPAC nd the current Israeli government would tell you do not exist and the HuffPo liberals will tell you are what all Palestinians are? Yet another in a long list of things that your average Jew and your average Palestinian probably has in common. All I know for sure is that it is exhausting to try.