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Monday, August 15, 2005



I was really happy to finally see some on-the-ground anti-war activity. Finally, I thought, finally someone is going to start something that will mobilize the American people. Then on Nightline, Cindy Sheehan says:

"Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel."

And I thought, oh yeah, same shit, different decade. I resent like hell having to support an anti-war activist who is an anti-semite. In fact, I can't. I can't describe how much I want a voice without an agenda as nefarious as this administration's to come out of the wilderness and just speak against this inhumanity of war, but this ain't it.

Now Cindy Sheehan is a veritable pieta, and her son a christ figure, killed by the machination of Jews. Can you amen that?


Being against the colonial occupation and policies of Israel is not the same as being either anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic.

Israel is not the same as "Jewish people." Jewish peoples are hardly monolithic. There are many Jewish Diasporas and many Jewish ideas about Israel, culture, faith, and religion.

Nor should Israel be immune from criticism for some of their hurtful policies ***or*** attacked without acknowledging their good policies. I'm not anti-black because I criticize an African nation.

Invading Iraq *does* in fact benefit Israel in some respects. However, it benefits the oil mavens in Saudia Arabia too. It also breeds hate that will continue to damage Arab-Israeli, Arab-European and Arab-American relations. The reality is that assumed "benefits" comingle with "hurts" and none of it is healthy.

The Israeli government, its current leaders and its founders are not saints. No nation formed by displacing others is affirmative. No nation-building program that begins with war is affirmative.

It is easy for some to understand the pain of the Israeli settlers that must now move from the Gaza strip. Why then cannot some of those same people empathize with the pain of the Arabs who were in the same area who were displaced by Israeli settlers on some of the land that is now Israel?

America *does* in fact have unfair and selective policies towards certain countries. Why condemn Iragi leaders for thinking in the past that they had a birth right to the land of Kuwait and not also condemn Israel or any other country that invades and settles another country based in part on claims that the land is their birth right?

No one people are saints and no one person is a saint and I'm going to support Cindy's anti-war cause. I have empathy for both Israel and Palestine and I realize the faults on both sides.

I also know that the anti-war movement needs Cindy, and she has the right to be critical of Israeli policies and not be called an anti-Semite.

Ben G.


What specific Israeli policies is Cindy Sheen referring to in the quotes DK brings to our attention? Controlling the US and dictating its mideast agenda is not a policy. It is a fabrication as old as the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion (actually older). Of the two nations the US is the one with the power to call the shots. When the US says jump Israel jumps. When the US decided Israel should overhaul its soicalistic economy to be a more orthodox market economy, the US just made a little threat concerning those precious loan guarantees and got its way. There were massive strikes in Israel as Israelis watched their social programs get flushed down the toilet at the US's behest, but no matter, the US had spoken.

Do I think the US should use its power to end the occupation and improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians? Yes. Does Israel have power that I wish it would yield differently to pursue justice and safety for all? Yes.

But this is not what you are talking about. You begin with the platitude that "Being against the colonial occupation and policies of Israel is not the same as being either anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic." A fine thing to say, but then you go on with " No nation formed by displacing others is affirmative. No nation-building program that begins with war is affirmative." Now you're talking about existence rather than policies. What soil are you standing on now that was not established as national ground through displacement and war? If you can't begin a conversation about Israel and Palestine with an assumed right of Jews to have their nation, then you do not have a grasp of history and you are, at best, flirting with antisemitism.

I deplore what Israelis did and do to Palestinians, as well as what Palestinians do through suicide bombers in their fight for autonomy. I also deplore how the world stood idly by while Jews were murdered en masse and how no nation would open its borders to the refugees who were fleeing the European murderers.

If you do not understand the dangerous tenor of "My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel," see what you get when you do a technorati search on sheehan nightline israel duke. Why are those people rushing to Cindy's defense? I wonder...


Your work on your blog is extremely important. My words come with respect for your intellect and for your contributions.

Please read my comments here and re-read my post because you are attributing ideas to me that I did not state or imply.

I did not say that Israel should not exist.

Nor am I advocating anti-Semitism, Ben.

I do not think that the founding of the U.S. on the backs of African slaves is affirmative. You are an anti-racist and I'm sure you would agree that we all must continue to criticize some of the thinking behind ***any nation's*** founding that involves colonial occupation in the modern era...I criticize and celebrate Israel ***at the same time*** just as I criticize the "founding fathers" of the U.S. from the vantage point of being an American.

So, please do not collaspe my ideas into "race-carding" and label me an anti-Semite.

REPEAT: I never said that Israel should not exist.

What I conveyed was that ***the way*** that Israel was founded--or the way any nation is founded that involves the hurt of others--is problematic.

I'm an American and extremely committed to the cultural power and vitality of American Jews, of all Jewish peoples, and all racial minorities, including myself.

I also believe that America and Israel's existence are part of what makes the world beautiful as well as troubling.

At the same time, would I have rathered America come into existence through the destruction and displacement of others or not come into existence? The answer is the latter: I would have rather it not come into existence than destroy so many lives and blight countless generations to come.

Yet, America, Israel and many countries with problemtic foundings exist. I celebrate the existence and critique the founding.

How could you *not* agree with this reasoning?!

America, Israel, South Africa--all are nations with troubled pasts. We exist based on troubled histories and must be unsparing in our efforts to criticize without being branded as anti-Semites, or racists.

That is what I said and meant in my post, Ben.

My problem is with people saying that Cindy is an anti-Semite for her remarks against Israel.

People can be insensitive in our language and hurtful with our words and thinking without even knowing that we are being that way. But, we are also quite resilient and can change.

Haven't you ever thought and/or said something that encodes problemtic views or misunderstanding about blacks and the civil rights era and then later learned that some of your thinking, ideas, or conceptions were problematic and then you revised your thinking?

My point is that we should not demonize Cindy.

We ***should*** critique her for her comments, yes!

But, we shouldn't abandon her anti-war cause or stop supporting her.

Nor should we retreat into calling people anti-Semites for being critical of some of Israel's policies (yes, I use this word because it is appropriate) or practices.

I am also unsparing in my criticisms of Arab extremists and anyone who thinks that killing is the solution to even their most troubling problems.

In light of its size, I would argue that Israel--with its nuclear arsenal, army, and its backing by far more powerful nations--does hold power. I wrestle with the notion of de-investment of American companies in Israel just as I did with de-investment with American companies in South Africa in the late 80s and early 90s before apartheid was reversed.

Denying that Israel actually does have socio-economic power and political might in light of these things seems unreasonable, Ben.

But, you are indeed correct that the U.S. is far more powerful and destructive.

That is why I support Cindy's anti-war efforts.

Finally, what kind of "history" were you referring to? This is a genuine and not a flip or insincere question. Please understand my meaning.

While events, facts and actions occur within specfic periods of time and across time, there is no history that is not also told from someone's point of view.

That's my a starting-place definition of history.

For me, the practice of colonialism in the modern, post-WWII world is ***equally*** as problematic as anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and other cultural discriminations. Neither are all of these problems ***the same***.

I, for one, wish to criticize these problems even when it forces me to make dicey distinctions.


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