Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's not easy...

...being a Jew. Zis shver tzu zain a yid. Tell me about it.
I sometimes get grief for things like Israel's recent blow up in Lebanon, the fact that the Palestinian problem rages on, etc. I find myself apologizing or justifying Israel and the general apathy of world Jewry towards the Palestinians, among other things. But on the Jewish side of the equation, in Mexico for instance, my conversations with some Mexican Jews shock me.
Otherwise intelligent people really have a very narrow sense of debate when it comes to Israel. They forget that in Israel itself the country is extremely divided politically. You can be a supporter of Israel and have a political opinion. You don't have to agree with everything Israel does. And the fact that you don't agree, does not make you a self-hating Jew or an antisemite or an Israel-hater. You can be for or against the government and you can still support Israel, like Israelis do.
But I hear things like "CNN is antisemitic". Is CNN antisemitic because it reports what happened in Lebanon? As the recent misadventure in Lebanon showed, Israel can also make very costly, unnecessary mistakes. And it behooves Jews everywhere to hold Israel to a high moral standard, not to blindly applaud everything it does.
Or, even worse, I hear Bush is a great president because he supports Israel. And that is that. I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. It is not possible to continue thinking of the world in these terms: is it good for the Jews?
Believe it or not, Bush is not good for the Jews. He would be better for the Jews if, instead of doing nothing at all except waiting for the Second Coming, and inflaming anti-US and Israel passions in the Middle East, he'd actually push Israel and its neighbors to find diplomatic solutions to their problems. The fact that he is the worst president this country has ever had, but he is still a friend of Israel is actually really not good for the Jews. We need a good president who supports Israel wisely. Not an evangelical moron who probably doesn't give a rat's ass about the Jews or the Middle East as long as Jesus is coming.

I guess you can choose to live a very cloistered life in the midst of your Jewish community, wherever it might be, and lose touch with the world outside, like a voluntary ghetto. My life was like this for a long time, yet I was always curious about being a Jew living in the world. My parents were a little bit more open minded than most, in some respects, and I had a sense of Mexico and the world that was broader than just the Jewish environment in which I grew up. The world, after the Holocaust, supposedly, has changed now. Now Jews can live in it with less fear, as human beings surrounded by other human beings, not just by other Jews; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad notwithstanding. It's not easy to be a Jew out in the world, always waiting for the spiked remark, always worrying about the behavior of other Jews, etc, but it has got to be much easier today than it has ever been. I feel it's worth it how exhausting it can be, sometimes how frustrating, and maddening. If and when somebody forces us again to segregate, and to truly fear, if and when I have no other choice, I will become a Jew in a ghetto. But as long as I'm free, I am a Jew in the world.

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