HAMAS - and MORE
I would like to dedicate this writing to a loving, caring woman I know in Chicago. She and I disagree on a lot and can’t talk about these issues.
My writing this writing – relates to the concern I have for fellow Jews (as well as The Palestinian People) – as is best exemplified by another woman – who disagrees with me strongly.
WHAT FOLLOWS IS EXTREMELY LONG – AND SOMEWHAT COMPLEX! Just a Warning!
THESE ISSUES ARE TRIGGERING FOR MANY OF US – INCLUDING ME!
I am 72 year old man who is grieving, though personally I’m (now) not aware of knowing anyone who has been killed in the Middle East in recent days.
Paternally I am a descendant of a family that I would call “privileged”. Most white immigrants to The United States:
1. Came to the U.S. related to:
a. Poverty – such as Irish who came during the potato famine, and/or
b. Political Persecution – such as Russian immigrants perceived as “the enemy” after the 1917 Russian Revolution, and/or
c. Religious persecution – such as Jews and Catholics from various countries at various times.
2. The parents and grandparents were torn between allegiance to the traditions of “the old country” while the children grew up assimilated as “Americans”,
3. Commonly – our identities became fully “American” – in part through being “white”. Subtly or explicitly we perceived ourselves as “better” than Black People and others who aren’t “white”. “Schvarzes”- was not an endearing term among Jews. A word I won’t mention -is less subtle.
My paternal great-grandfather George Marx sold his bank to Deutsche Bank in 1904. His wealth obviously declined with the massive inflation in German after World War I, but he wasn’t hurting for money.
George Marx’s son Alexander Marx received his doctorate from The University of Koenigsberg in 1903 – and was immediately recruited to NYC to be the Chief Librarian and a History Professor at The Jewish Theological Seminary.
George’s youngest son Moses Marx, my grand-father, though not (formally) highly educated, was a “Prussian Gentleman”. He was recruited from Berlin in 1926 to Cincinnati’s Hebrew Union College as its library’s Chief Cataloger. He had a good reading knowledge in multiple languages and developed a partial family tree going back well before 1492.
SY (“Shai”) Agnon, who shared the Nobel Prize in literature in 1966 was my great-uncle by marriage.
Growing up in West Lafayette, Indiana in the 1950’s and early 1960’s – I was taught that:
1. We were white – and there was no shame in being white
2. We were Jewish – and there was no shame in being Jewish
3. We were encouraged to read, be intellectual and discuss/ debate issues that came up within our family
4. We were committed to working for Social Justice.
In the Summer of either 1961 or 1962 – I was a participant with my brother and our parents in a Civil Rights March around the County Square in Lafayette, Indiana. Related to having been neighbors and friends as newlyweds in NYC, James Farmer, a noted Civil Rights Activist – had dinner at our (my father died in 1964) in the Fall of 1969, prior to speaking that evening at Purdue University.
My upbringing was 100% in support of Israel as The Jewish State! I read “the books” that many college educated Jews read – such as the writings of Leon Uris. Later on I read biographies of Golda Meir, David Ben Gurion, and other noted Israeli heroes. Benjamin Hareli, a cousin of my father’s (where my son got his name as: “Ben”), who I loved very much, was very devoted to his wife, who was wheelchair bound related to the 1947-8 War.
I began to question my support of Israel around the second half of the 1970’s following the Wars of 1967 and 1973. I read and read and read. The more I read, the more I asked questions, and the answers were increasingly troubling.
In 1987, when I was 36 years old and living in Madison, Wisconsin I went to see Louis Farrakhan speak (it was free – I’d not have paid to hear him), seeking to understand both his charisma and his Anti-Semitism.
I learned more in both areas. I’m glad that I was a witness. I had more negative feelings about him after attending the event than previously.
That same year in response to a typed letter I sent to the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, I was told that I was: “listening to too much Arab Propaganda”. That response surprised and bothered me. It was long before I heard more than tokenly about most Palestinian voices like Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi. My sources then were mostly Jewish.
The murder of Rachel Corrie in 2003 (see my writing of 2019 - https://www.georgemarx.org/2019/03/my-name-is-rachel-corriea.html ) hurt me. I cried when I met her loving, caring parents at a small demonstration in Seattle. That certainly helped me on my journey to becoming strongly Anti-Zionist.
Somatic Abolitionism and Resmaa Menakem – have impacted me quite recently in moving into my heart and spirit, and out of my head.
It is so, so, so clear to me how FEAR and TRAUMA impact most of us. Too many of us who are white haven’t emotionally accepted that The South – the Confederacy – lost The Civil War. We are afraid of Black People!
As Jews, we obviously face the SEVERE Trauma of The Holocaust! What is less understood is the historical trauma we’ve faced – and we continue to face – related to the horrific Anti-Semitism of the past. Pogroms were one part, and far from the only part of being: “The Bankers” – who Crucified J.C. – types of things – are relevant. My maternal grandfather risked his life connecting with his family along the Polish-Russian border as a young man.
Failing to deeply process our own traumas, leaves a huge gap in our hearts. As Jews, many of us have a lot of work to do!
As a husband and father, for a long time, I didn’t love myself. Depression helped fuel my poor self-image. Not loving myself made it impossible to deeply love my spouses and my son.
Palestinians have become “collateral damage” – or worse – for many of us. We lack a capacity to see them comparably to how we see others we care about. When we don’t process our traumas deeply – both personally and ancestrally, it can be and often is very, very challenging to have empathy for the “others” who relate to our traumas – OR – who we consciously or subconsciously tie in with our traumas.
A cousin of my father’s, with her husband, had a dress shop in Jerusalem, starting in the 1930’s, after they’d emigrated from Germany. They made dresses for well-off Jews and Palestinians. Only they could afford to have dresses made in Palestine then. Around 1980, she told me a moving story.
In 1967, an old Palestinian man entered her store. He asked for her husband. He cried when hearing that her husband had died.
He had worked for them as a porter until the 1948 War separated him from Israel. For the several years before he died, he insisted on carrying my cousin’s bags when she visited The Old City. He wouldn’t take any money. She was well off, and he poor.
Such personal ties are important! Most Jews both in Israel and the U.S. don’t know any Palestinians/Palestinian Americans.
Many white people fear that empowered Black People will, if given any chance– seek revenge – against us. Strangely – though – it is the middle-class white boys, who do nearly all the mass killings in our public schools. Oft times, it relates to how one or more young women rejected their advances. Privilege – relates a lot to this. Poor Black young Men generally only attack individual other Poor Black People
Jews and Palestinians are deeply divided. Several days ago – things were turned upside down! Relatively few Palestinians attacked Jews, prior to this upheaval.
The Jewish Virtual Library states that the following numbers of Jews were killed by Palestinian Terrorism by year:
2020 – 3, 2019 – 9, 2018- 14, 2017 – 13, 2016 – 16, 2015- 36, 2014- 24, 2013 – 7, 2012 – 9, 2011 – 21 = 142 = 14.2/year.
“From 2004 to 2014, these attacks have killed 27 Israeli civilians, 5 foreign nationals, 5 IDF soldiers, and at least 11 Palestinians and injured more than 1900 injuries.”
I would guess that this latter set of figures is low! The key thing, though, is that prior to the attacks of a few days ago, it was The Fear – that Israelis had, not the reality of any likelihood that they would be killed that is most important.
Translating such words, I’m in much, much more danger going to Oakland or Berkeley, California, near where I live, than I would have been in Israel over the past 10-20 years. Gun violence here is The Issue! I’ve been held up twice at gunpoint, and nearly all the time, I’m not consciously scared where I live. My and our fears – aren’t necessarily “rational”. Our feelings – reflect – how we feel – which can relate to many things in our lives, particularly dating back to our formative years.
A key question exists as to “whose land” are we talking about?
Our predominant fears are of another holocaust.
Emotionally, this fear is very understandable!
Is Israel the ancestral home of the Jews – and thereby Israel “belongs to them”?
What does it mean for someone to be a “Palestinian”?
I would like to revert back to a statement I quoted dating from 1919. It is:
“In March 1919,on the eve of the post World War I Paris Peace Conference, ‘Julius Kahn, the German-born Jewish congressman from San Francisco, delivered to President Wilson “A Statement to the Peace Conference” endorsed by 299 Jews. …[T]he document denounced the Zionists for attempting to segregate Jews and to reverse the historical trend toward emancipation.’ Its signers ‘objected to the creation of a distinctly Jewish state in Palestine’ not only because they feared it would jeopardize the status of Jews like themselves in the home countries, but because they found it ‘contrary “to the principles of democracy’ to elevate Jewish immigrants over Palestine’s Muslim and Christian native inhabitants. They explicitly denied ‘the existence of ethnic ties among Jews’ and ‘asserted their wish not to see Palestine “either now or at any time in the future’ become a Jewish state.’ They petitioned instead for Palestine to be ‘made into an independent , free, and democratic state that would not recognize any distinctions of creed, race, or ethnic descent among its citizens.’ “ (18) (p. xii)
How we identify as “Jews” can be extremely relevant here! Where we see ourselves as “persecuted” – such as through Anti-Semitism, we will take things that we perceive as a major threat much more seriously than others who aren’t afraid or as afraid will.
20-40 years ago – it could easily be argued that – there should be a “Two State Solution” – that would basically result in close to the pre-1967 borders between – 1948-1966+ Israel – with Jerusalem – a “shared city” – in some fashion. There would have been some land swaps – to make things easier – and the new Palestinian State would not have a military.
As Palestinian land on the West Bank has become – inhabited by Jewish Settlers – this possibility has disappeared. There no longer is a “there- there” – for a Palestinian State to exist as more than a token relatively small piece of land.
The remaining solutions are:
1.) Continuation of the Status Quo – which seemed – “the only realistic solution” – until several days ago
2.) A Single – Democratic State of Israel – with “equality” – something more popular among Palestinians, than Jewish Israelis – but NOT – something the Israel of today would have accepted at any time in the past – and certainly not now – or in the foreseeable future.
3.) Some type of Hybrid – Solution – related to various proposals of Confederations and similar – no one is accepting this solution.
So let’s cut to the chase!
Israel is an Apartheid State! Palestinians – do NOT – have anything resembling – “equality”, “equity”, “parity”, “respect” or whatever term you wish to use.
‘A few Arab boys were working in Atzmon for a while, but some people were upset and made them leave. And for a few days now they’ve been throwing stones at our cars as we pass. It’s really stressful!’
‘Why were they fired?’ I asked.
‘Oh, you know…’ she looked uncomfortable, waving her hand.
‘Some people just don’t want Arabs working in the community.’ (p.320)
I guess it’s really tough to be Jewish - in Israel!’
Eva explained. ‘You’ve created a big problem for her.’
‘You were educated abroad, your English is fluent, you hold a higher position than hers, you make more money than she does, and she can’t handle it. You’re not the Arab she’s been told about, the backward, illiterate savage who lives in a tent and keeps camels. She doesn’t know what box to put you in.’ (p.348)
Fida Jiryis is an ally- not an enemy – for me! – you can listen to her – she isn’t Anti-Semitic. Her father isn’t Anti-Semitic. You can’t deeply hear her words – if you weaponize her – distrusting her integrity, or seeing her as “the exception”.
Marc Lamont-Hill was fired from CNN as a commentator because of his use of the words: “From the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” – which was totally – totally – distorted – as indicated that he was calling for the killing of all Israeli Jews. Recently – when he was hired away from Temple University to CUNY (NYC) – there were huge pushes to fire him – before he had spoken, taught a class or done anything at all.
I met him recently in person at a Conference. He is consistent. He is supportive of Jews and Black People. He is supportive of religious and racial justice. See my prior writing:
See my review of Israelism – an incredible film:
As I have mentioned previously, I believe that we come at things most commonly from an “emotional”, rather than a “knowledge” perspective. I think that we readily find “proof” of what we believe (with tweaks and modifications over time).
I have had numerous positive experiences with Palestinian Americans and one positive experience with a Palestinian Israeli (virtually only with her- Fida Jiryis). As I have more and more experiences, I learn more and more of the Hearts of these Palestinian People. I can NOT exclude my experiences – as “the exceptions” – as my “evidence pool”- gets larger and larger, and the messages are consistently similar.
My experiences with Jews and Christians are nowhere near as consistent. Some of these experiences are highly, highly problematic.
I am learning, over time – of “oppressor class” and “oppressed class” systemic trends and it isn’t pretty! The lashing out and punitive actions/views and spreading of hatred seems token among Palestinians, and a significant issues among: Americans, Jews, and Israelis.
Recently I learned of long-term ties of India related to Kashmir and how India’s leadership models how Israel acts towards “the Other’s” related to Kashmir. Unfortunately, Israel in some horrific ways ended up over decades became “The Oppressor” of the Kashmiri People in a way similar to how the British treated India as its colony. The Moslems and Hindi – people were taught that “the other” was their enemy. In similar ways Protestants have been played off against Catholics in various countries historically.
Apparently India is Israel’s largest external purchaser of military hardware it produces. 45% of Israel’s exported military equipment goes to India. Israeli weapons are even manufactured in India. Given that India now has the world’s largest population and frequently is in major conflict externally with Pakistan, this is Important.
Many of my “teachers” are Jewish. Some of them are among my closest allies and friends.
Hamas – has not been supported by a majority of Palestinians in recent years. Rashid Khalidi has clearly stated (I heard him say it in a webinar)– that: both Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas and The Palestinian Authority – both strongly prefer – the (now former) status quo – to an equitable peace settlement. Both know that with any peace settlement – that results in honest Palestinian elections will result in neither of them winning.
Israel – has NEVER – supported – a Palestinian leader – no one – never – nothing. Where there may have been possible excellent leaders – generally they have been killed – some by Palestinians opposed to them, and probably more commonly by the Shin Bet or other Israeli sources.
Now – we are left with Abbas – an aging – tacit supporter of Israel who most recently said a clearly Anti-Semitic Statement. This was far from the first Anti-Semitic statement he has made. This latter statement was criticized by many prominent Palestinians. Many Palestinian prominent people have in the past expressed empathy and support for major Anti-Semitic incidents and similar tragedies.
Alternately – we have Hamas. Hamas – both has NOT been given a “fair chance” to rule Gaza, and has not shown any capacity to lead effectively as more than – “the Anti-Israel” – way that has similarities in the U.S. – related to an individual and “his” political party.
Hamas’s appeal – often relies upon – its being: “Israel’s enemy” – playing upon Gazan’s passionate desire for justice including being able to return to where they previously lived. Obviously – with the destruction of formerly Palestinian villages as well as Jewish People moving into formerly Palestinian homes, this is problematic. We can’t, however simply equate what happened with Jews leaving other Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq and moving to Israel with this.
Yes, there were Jews “forced” to leave some countries. Others did it as a choice. There are still Jews living in countries like Iran. There may be legitimate claims for “reparations” among some Jewish Israelis.
There are complexities – with these issues relating to the privilege of the Ashkenazi Jews and the notable lack of privilege of the Misrahi Jews who are Not “white”. Parallels with Black and white USians – are most evident here.
WE ARE LEFT WITH A CORE, MAJOR PROBLEM HERE.
PLEASE – explain to me – HOW – Hamas – or anyone else is to “make peace” with Israel????????
1.) Be cooperative – cooperation – has consistently lead to being effectively ignored – while more and more Palestinian land is taken away from Palestinians,
2.) Tell Palestinians to move to Jordan and/or Iraq, and or Syria????? Major problem – they are Not wanted – and they are natives of Palestine – not of these other countries.
3.) Cooperate with Saudi Arabia, The Emirates, Egypt and Jordan – the major countries who have political relations with Israel or are now seeking such relations??? – see: 2.) above – as well as Saudi Arabia – besides Oil – what can one get from ties to Saudi Arabia – murder – murder etc.
Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes – it is horrible that Hamas – has killed many innocent people and is holding many as hostages and is acting – in a most BELLIGERENT manner!
There is suddenly – a new “David” attacking “Goliath”! Palestinians – far too many of them – are celebrating! HAMAS – has done “THE IMPOSSIBLE”!
Hamas – has “scared the s__t” out of The Israelis and many Jews and many others! This is a threat to the U.S. Government and for many other countries.
If Hamas – can do that – maybe a “new Cuban Government” – can confront The U.S.
We are afraid! Many others are afraid! Will we start to understand the fears of the Palestinians???? Will we start to understand – how they have had their own – sort of – “holocaust”. Will we be able to relate – the experiences of Palestinians to Native Peoples in the U.S., Canada, and south of the U.S.? Can we understand – what happened when Haiti rebelled against us? Do we see– the price that Haiti has paid, by not being submissive and “respectful”.
There are deep and heavy issues here!!!!!! There is an important distinction between:
1. Accepting what has happened – the murder of innocent people – for example
2. Recognizing – that people who are oppressed as Palestinians are:
a. Have NO serious option of “working things out” - being a “Good Palestinian” – is very similar to what – “Good Black People” experienced in the South for a long, long time. Needing to step off of the curb into the street – risking getting killed if one didn’t do it, isn’t right.
Examples of this include:
1. Palestinians having garbage and worse pelted at them – in the center of Hebron – as a few Jewish residents treat their Palestinian neighbors horrifically is a fact of life.
2. Palestinians dying – as ambulances are stuck at random and regular checkpoints – not getting to the hospital on time – is similar to the facts when Bessie Smith died – not being taken to the “white hospital” (though she might not have lived anyway),
3. Palestinian Israeli Citizens – lack the right – to expand their villages – as their population grows – they CAN’T buy additional land – most of the time
4. Palestinian Israeli Citizens have a much harder time getting permits to expand their houses – as their number of residents grow in their houses
5. Israel does have a disproportionate number of some occupations like pharmacists who are Palestinian. Unfortunately, it is 100% legal – for Palestinian Israeli’s to be paid less than Jews for similar work.
6. Israel – specifically recognizes the predominance of being Jewish – as a “Jewish State”. There is no “constitution”, nor individual rights of its citizens. Examples of the relevance of this are in how per Wikipedia The Jewish National Fund owns 13% of Israel’s land. It’s role as a “private” organization is to support – SOLEY Jewish settlement. A Palestinian Israeli has ZERO rights – to “equal housing”, “equal job opportunities” or most anything.
7. Israel’s parliamentary system – includes Palestinian voters and some members. Members can be forbidden IF they are deemed “a threat to the State”- which is done significantly. The relative political power of the Palestinian Israelis is far less than the percentage they are of the population. Radical Reactionary Extremely Religious parties – wield a huge amount of power – relative to the numbers of votes they get. It ISN’T – the lack of “brains” of the Palestinians. It is systemic oppression!
Underneath all of this are two core facts:
1. The Palestinian People – are “beautiful people” in the same way that: Black People are “beautiful people”. – Neither are “better” than others – and They Deserve Our Respect!
2. Fear – begets War – begets Fear- Begets War – begets Groundhog Day!
I once saw an amazing thing. A man fought his way through the bouncer – and made it into the bar. Once in the bar – beyond the bouncer – there was – No More Conflict – and he chilled in the bar.
Israel – with the strong support of the U.S. – and many other countries – will be able to effectively destroy – an Incredible Amount of Gaza – killing people, destroying what is left in an impoverished – blockaded – isolated small “state” – and they are actively on the path to do just that!
Unfortunately – the situation is similar in a way to both:
1. Germany – after World War I
2. Many former – foci of The U.S.
Related to 1: The reparations that Germany was forced to pay, acknowledging 100% of “The Fault” for World War I – a total distortion of reality – helped build – the opportunity for Hitler.
One can not predict what – future – will come of Gaza and The Palestinians – however – the fear and Deep Anger – will build Revenge and More Revenge – whether in an old form – we know of or something new – and it will result in more killing – and more destruction – Not Just of the Palestinians – but also of The Jewish State.
Related to 2: Our Government has made promises to our Native Ancestors – in our own Country – to Black People – to Saddam Hussein – when he was “our man”, and to the people of Afghanistan and to Cubans and Cuban-Americans – and how good has our word been???????
Saudi Arabia – and oil – are still important today. Iran – is our Punching Bag – and its leadership is doing horrible things! Let’s not forget – how we – discarded its leadership for Oil and The Shah – and how “The Iranian Revolution” – came – when we could no longer prop up The Shah against his people.
Israel is strategic – because of the oil. Its value will dissipate – long after my death – when oil is no longer in Saudi Arabia. If you think that you face – Anti-Semitism today (and you may well face it), it will be much, much stronger – when Israel – only has its nuclear capacity – as its “deterrent” in a way similar to what Putin has today.
Love begets love! We need to show self-love, so we can help heal ourselves. As we heal ourselves, we can start dealing with our “work” – related to Palestinians, Black People, Women, Non-Binary People, The Survival of our Planet and much, much more!
Let’s join the others who are trying to minimize their “emissions” on the highway, and avoid our detours, and hiding - in their fears.
We can only remain ignorant of “reality” and hurt badly by our fears for a finite amount of time, before we – start to really, seriously deal with the problems – discussing our differences – working through them towards a positive, affirming future.
It isn’t easy!
I do care! You care also!