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Event Mon Feb 22 2010

Neve Gordon at Oak Park Library Tonight

Among the small network of Jewish mothers in suburban Detroit that all played a part in raising me (my mother, my best friend's mothers', my mother's best friends) an email made the rounds last week. It contained a video of some young people at a Trader Joe's somewhere boycotting the sale of Israeli-made goods. The young people posted stickers with images of bombs on the products and informed shoppers about their boycott, asking that they not support a nation who occupies and oppresses a people.

In other words, they were voicing a very common human rights concern by non-violent means.

Of course, this being an email circulating among middle-aged suburban Jews, the comments on the video were filled with vitriol. "How could Trader Joe's let this happen," "This is hard to believe and harder to watch."

I don't know what the moment feels like when a generation reaches the point that it turns to its progenitors, at eye level and not looking up, and engages as an equal in dialog. In fact, I suspect that that may never fully feel right. The reverence and respect I have for the mothers in my life makes it even harder to think they are wrong. But I think in the Jewish community--at least in my Jewish community--there is a divide between the ages that needs to be discussed. Many of our parents refuse to see the err in any Israeli action. Many of them are far closer to the pain that brought about the state of Israel.

We can argue over the use of words like apartheid and occupation--and certainly those are arguments that ought to be had--but to become enraged at a boycott of a controversial nation that the international community has routinely condemned is to act blindly and of the same base sense of identity the worst acts have been done to us.

I have much family and many friends in Israel, which makes it even the more painful to see the logic in criticisms of Israel. Harder, in fact, than to challenge my mothers. It is also painful to hear the opinions of those living in Israel when speaking about certain other human beings. There is a deep and pervasive sense of racism in daily life in Israel, and I suspect that's a fact more widely known in my community than revealed. Those ties--familial, religious, emotional--should not cloud discussions of justice and policy. We sit on a priviledged perch, us American Jews, the better to see the world and its shades of gray (not my line), a luxury spared most Israelis.

Anyway, Neve Gordon is an Israeli that is trying valiantly to help Israel treat all people justly. A lot of Israelis don't like him for that. He will be at the Oak Park Public Library tonight, and was on Worldview earlier today. Please go listen to him, and hear about the important "binational solution."

 

Jeffrey / February 22, 2010 6:29 PM

Tikkun olam.

b / February 25, 2010 7:27 AM

A very beautiful post.

Lets hope Israel isn't trying to instigate another war with its assassinations, demolitions and now inclusion of holy spaces in Palestinian lands.

Mark / March 6, 2010 4:07 PM

I think you are out of your minds, you live in denial. You think Israel should be guinea pig for experimental "Democratic" Arabs? Arabs can not be democratic, you think its coincidence there are no democratic Arab states? It isn't.
Wake up silly fat Jews, you think if you appease the Palestinians, they will cooperate? You are out of your minds.

Danny Fenster / March 6, 2010 10:13 PM

Wow. I know I don't need to respond to that, but I feel I do, at least briefly.

Arabs are incapable of democracy? Are they not human? Are they some other race that aren't as capable and as incapable as any other persons? Do Arab-Americans not live and breath democracy?

Do you think that with an attitude like that on either side a solution will ever be reached? Do you think extremism exists only on one side?

That is the most openly racist comment I could imagine being written.

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