Down the hall in the English Department, we have an otherwise highly respected colleague who believes, and I quote, that “Any criticism of the State of Israel is anti-Semitism.” I take this to mean that if the Israelis decided to empty the Gaza Strip the way the Nazis emptied the Warsaw Ghetto, she would have no problem with that. But that’s not what this is about.
What this is about is that I’ve just reviewed the 131 entries so far in this blog, and I count at least a half dozen which are clearly critical of the State of Israel. So, deferring to who are clearly my moral betters, it follows that I’m an anti-Semite, though I hear tell – I consulted Noam Chomsky on this – we anti-Semitic Semites prefer the moniker ‘self-loathing’. I wear this moniker as a badge of honour, because I would have a problem with what my colleague down the hall in the English Department would not.
This is not to say that my loyalties aren’t torn. Unlike my colleagues’ parents, mine didn’t have numbers on their arms, but only because their parents escaped to Canada two decades before all hell was unleashed on Eastern Europe. So I’m the child of luck. Luck bestows privilege. Privilege has its burdens. Among mine is being torn between solidarity with my own people and solidarity with, well, people.
Would that there were, but between these conflicting loyalties there is no evolutionary stable strategy. For example, I’ve tried to withdraw my uptake to membership in my tribe, but it didn’t take, just like it doesn’t take when someone who’s not a member of the tribe tries to join it. It’s true that we Jews don’t proselytize. But that’s because conversion just doesn’t take.
I’ve also tried to remind people like my colleague that, according to the Covenant that defines us as a people, we’re to go forth and be an example unto the nations. But the rabid Zionists in our midst will have none of it. After Auschwitz they’ve pretty much withdrawn their signature from the Covenant – and who can blame them? – because as the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem clearly testifies, God certainly withdrew His!
So between being and not being a child of the Covenant, I flounder like a fish thrown onto the pier. I think the only Jews who don’t are some of those I’ve recently met in Jerusalem, who’ve given the Nazis precisely what they wanted. They failed to erase us as human beings, so instead they erased our humanity.