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Self-help for self-haters

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    Zionists have managed to unforgivably drag their religion s name through the mud for more than 60 years Self-help for self-haters Seth Freedman
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2008
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      Zionists have managed to unforgivably drag their religion's name
      through the mud for more than 60 years

      Self-help for self-haters
      Seth Freedman

      Though my detractors often claim otherwise, I see myself as anything
      but a "self-hating Jew", and the more vocal I am in my criticism of
      the Israeli government's crimes, the more credence I give that claim.
      I passionately love my religion, and just as fervently defend its
      teachings to the hilt when it comes to how to treat our fellow man.
      That Zionism has come along, hijacked Jewish doctrines, and twisted
      them to form part of an all-out supremacist movement is not something
      I can swallow if I want to stay loyal to the true values of Judaism.

      Unfortunately, by demanding that the world sees Zionism as a
      philosophy essentially based on Jewish principles, Zionists have
      managed to unforgivably drag the religion's name through the mud for
      over 60 years. However, I drew some comfort from an unlikely source
      after talking to a boy my age in the Deheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem.

      I was there as part of a marathon tour that took in Hebron, the
      village of al-Nueman, the Machpelah mosque, the Church of the Nativity
      and various other stops along the way - including the pitiful,
      crumbling buildings of Deheisha. Half-way through the trip, my eyes
      began to glaze over, as I sought to put a barrier between myself and
      the relentless barrage of proof we were shown of how cruelly the
      authorities deal with the Palestinians.

      Sneering soldiers manning checkpoints, freshly-demolished family
      homes, welded-shut shop fronts, blood-thirsty settler graffiti crudely
      daubed on Palestinian houses ... the list was endless, and the
      evidence was overwhelming. While it was clearly an invaluable
      experience for those on the tour who'd never seen the awful truth of
      the occupation up close and personal, I'd seen it all before - not
      that it gets any easier to take, however many times I am exposed to
      the reality.

      But that was before I met Jihad, a young man charged with showing us
      round the garbage-strewn streets and decrepit homes of Deheisha. The
      first thing I noticed about him were his eyes, which were as dead as
      any I've seen in all my four years living here. As he sat on a chair
      facing our 10-man semicircle, his face was utterly devoid of emotion,
      and he simply went through the motions as he reeled out his clearly
      well-polished introduction to life in the camp.

      I could hardly begrudge him his lack of enthusiasm; we were probably
      the hundredth group he'd spoken to about his community's plight, and
      what difference had all the lip-service made to their situation? He
      and his people were still here, still caged in their concrete prison,
      still at the mercy of the Israelis, and still no nearer to achieving
      their dreams of independence and freedom from the shackles of their

      "I just want to be like you," he said tiredly as he gazed into the
      middle distance, and with those seven words summed up the eternal
      plight of the downtrodden and discriminated against. "I've got two
      arms, two hands ... why am I any different from other people?" he went
      on - and, of course, the answer was staring us in the face from the
      gun turrets of the guard towers overlooking the camp.

      As we wended our way up the narrow alleys where skinny children clad
      in ill-fitting clothes played among the refuse, I asked Jihad to
      elaborate on how he could be "like us". His answer was simple, and -
      he said - representative of the views of the majority of Palestine's
      millions of refugees. "We want to go home", he said flatly. "There is
      no other way [that will suffice]. A two-state solution will not bring
      peace - the fight will go on." He told me that although he'd chosen to
      use pen rather than sword to get his message across, he had no truck
      with those who chose to join the armed resistance.

      He was vicious in his condemnation of those at the helm of the Israeli
      government, castigating them for their decades spent keeping his
      people down and subjugating them with brute force and bloodshed -
      however, he was adamant that he did not view their actions as
      emanating from Jewish sources. "Zionism is far, far removed from the
      Jewish religion," he assured me. "I have no issue with Jews - just as
      I have no problem with Christians or Buddhists. I don't mind Jews
      living here, just so long as they do it peacefully."

      He echoed the words of another local I'd met earlier, who had asked
      why Zionists had felt the only way to emigrate to the region was via
      conquest and control, rather than "the way my brother moved to the
      United States. He went there not to kill, not to occupy, but just to
      live there in peace and be a citizen like anyone else." Both his and
      Jihad's ability to clearly distinguish between Zionism and Judaism is
      a chink of light in an otherwise pitch black situation - and must be
      capitalised on by those with an interest in bringing this 60-year-old
      conflict to an end.

      The window of opportunity won't stay open for ever. Islamic radicals
      and fundamentalists are highly adept at conflating the Zionist
      philosophy with the Jewish faith, and Israel's hiding behind a fa├žade
      of acting on behalf of World Jewry only plays into their hands. Which
      is why it's essential that those Jews who recoil at the criminal
      actions of the Israeli government make it quite clear that this is not
      being done in their names.

      The dominant form of Zionism might be a racist, supremacist ideology -
      but Judaism is most definitely not. And the more Jews who make this
      distinction, the better: both for the security of their fellow Jews,
      as well as to prove to the Israeli authorities that they most
      definitely do not have carte blanche to crush the Palestinians for
      ever more under the guise of religious values.



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