‘I am a Jew. I$raHell is NOT My State’

John Kerry

John Kerry

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Cease-fires come and go. Until there is one that stays, then comes and goes again.

Public statements, accusations and moral outcries proliferate. Old voices are heard from again. New voices join the fray.

The Israeli and Palestinian political broadsides are the worse. Posturing and more posturing. Hypocrisy of the highest order.

Even B’Tselem, normally on the straight and narrow, panders to the Israeli the public. Why else release such a ridiculous report that characterizes the weapons fired from Gaza as action that “defies humanity and is morally and legally reprehensible.”

Resistance is resistance. It isn’t pretty. But then neither is oppression.

Not to leave out the new fascist dictatorship in Egypt and its cease-fire remedy. The great negotiator of peace and democracy for the ages! I can’t stomach reading their communiques. Even for the jaded, they’re just too much.

Egypt should start at home. Negotiate a cease-fire in its war against the Muslim Brotherhood, journalists and dissenters, then think about the Palestinians that, like Israel, it is oppressing.

John Kerry is back on the scene. Is he the statements he makes, the documents he releases or an apparition that periodically appears in different parts of the world?

When Kerry threatened to appear in Cairo to broker a ceasefire, the Egyptian dictator told him to stay home. Dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Prime Minister for Life, Benjamin Netanyahu, would work it out themselves. With the corrupt Tony Blair it appears. Which they did. Sort of.

Finally, church pleas for peace. It seems that the churches love everyone, Jews, Christians and Muslims, thus their pleas for peace. As if historically Christians have been on the side of the angels.

Christwash. Unfortunately, the churches newly-found inclusive love hides the sins of the churches today.

These announcements are like knocks on the door – or knock on roof missile warnings in our up-to-date Israeli parlance.  Once they’re heard it’s already too late.

The real casualties continue to mount in an almost comical ratio. As I write it is two hundred or so Palestinians dead to one Israeli. The ratio of injured is even more lopsided, if that is statistically possible.

As for my own children, the die has been cast. A few days ago, my little one Isaiah, soon to be a senior in college, posted this on Facebook:

I am a Jew (period)
Israel is NOT my state (period)
Judaism does not equal Israel (period)

Definitive and cogent. Too easy?

Mind you, this was before the four children were killed on the Gaza beach yesterday.

Perhaps Isaiah lacks the sophistication of those Jewish pundits who trot out time-worn tropes like anti-Semitism, Hamas targeting civilians and the two rights/two wrongs theory as death once again reigns down on a defenseless civilian population. Or maybe Isaiah has heard all that, seen through it and says what’s on his mind.

Isaiah is a Jew of Conscience – without “buts.”

My big one, Aaron, is like that, too. On his third trip to the (un)Holy Land, Aaron was involved in a demonstration against home demolitions. To his surprise, one of the Israeli soldiers told him that he respected and even agreed with his protest. When I tried to show Aaron how that attested to the possibility of change in the future, he replied: “Dad, what he said and then did – I lost my faith in humanity.”

Like Isaiah, definitive and cogent. Too easy?

On the Jewish establishment’s scale both Isaiah and Aaron are lost to Israel, and they are lost to the Jewish people.

Lost – or found?

If lost, what does that mean in relation to Israel’s relentless military machine?

If found, what does that mean to the relentless militarization of Jewish life?

Israel will continue on its path regardless. And this will be how Jews are known throughout the world.

The Jewish witness in the future? We have already joined the vaunted realm of politics and the church. Posturing and more posturing. Hypocrisy of the highest order.

Is the Jewish witness beside the point, worrying too much about “us” and not enough about what’s happening to Palestinians? Could be.

Still, imagine this even now – a world without Jews of Conscience. Would the world be better off having lost a primal root of dissent and relentless justice-seeking?

Israel is on the move, invading the West Bank, destroying homes, bombing Gaza, murdering children playing on the beach, kidnapping and burning Palestinians alive. But Israel is doing more than murdering Palestinians. Israel is trying to eliminate the very conscience that calls it to account.

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