Although I write this post as a proud American, it is my belief that the strength and position of the United States of America is of great importance to the entire civilized world. Debate is a good thing and it is a cornerstone of American society. Part of the greatness of the country is the freedom of all its citizens to express themselves no matter how diametrically opposed one citizen or group may be from the other. However, the freedoms given by the founding fathers, as important as they are, do very little good if they are used a destructive force against a united society.
Let me make it clear to anyone reading this that I am not being so presumptuous to think that anyone can put a limit on the freedom of speech. Any limitations put on it destroy the very premise it was built on. So in essence, all I am doing in this post is exercising my freedom of expression with a personal plea. Let’s get it together people.
It is time to come together as a nation and stop the bitter attacks against one another. Abraham Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” We are destroying ourselves. Not with differences of opinion or ideology, not with conservative or liberal stances, and not with a loyalty to the Republican or Democratic Party. We are destroying ourselves with conspiracy theories, personal attacks and vendettas, and hatred towards those who think differently than we do. Intelligent debate has been replaced by name calling and accusation. Idealism has been replaced with a corruption that has ambitious people taking advantage of weaknesses created by a modern society blinded by the desire to always find the easy way out.
I am a Social Liberal, but it is very important that I make something very clear. This is a totally non-partisan post. Those who are guilty are on all ends of the political spectrum and to say otherwise would just compound the problem and destroy any credibility this post might have. Even if one side is harsher than the other, something both sides take turns being, we are still at a stage of verbal conflict where it behooves either side, even the attacked side to take a softer stance if it creates a more unified nation. We need that right now. For despite the importance of the debates taking place in the country today, the true enemies are not domestic. There are forces such as Islamic regimes and a North Korean crazy who want to see us wiped off the map. I may be Pro Choice, but I’ll support my Pro Life fellow American against those whose intention is to murder us. And if someone opposes gay marriage, although I disagree with their viewpoint, I don’t see them as evil for standing by what they believe in. And I may have an anti-gun philosophy for the average American, but I also know that an extremely high percentage of those who are passionate about keeping their guns do not want them for the purpose of killing their fellow Americans.
My point is that even the most Conservative of civilized Americans are not my enemy, just as I am not theirs. But if we go after each other with venom and hatred we risk doing the very thing the great Abraham Lincoln warned us about, and that is destroying ourselves. As an American this is my personal plea to all those reading. Let’s not go down that road. Let’s debate the issues but never stop working together for the best possible solutions to our shared problems.
If you are sitting in front of a computer reading this, with warm shelter and have food to eat, you have reason to be thankful. If you have people who you love and love you, you have reason to be thankful. If you live in freedom and don’t fear for your life, you have reason to be thankful. If the world you live in, even if it consists of difficulties and uncertainties still provides you with some degree of hope, you have reason to be thankful. If you are healthy, or if you’re not but have moral and practical support during the hardest times, you have reason to be thankful. If you live in peace, you have reason to be thankful. But most of all, on this Thanksgiving, if you’re not a turkey…..
The other day I was having a conversation with a relative about the concept of anti-Zionism and how it relates to anti-Semitism. I hold the position that they are one in the same, while my relative felt that although anti-Zionism often is modern-day institutionalized anti-Semitism, it is not always the case. This whole conversation began when I mentioned how I had just heard of Pink Floyd boycotting Israel and how it had impacted my life knowing that a band I had once considered one of my favorites had no gone to the increasing pile of celebrities I had no use for based on them being anti-Semitic. The argument was presented, by others on the table as well, that there are plenty of Israelis who are opposed to the government, and they of course are not anti-Semites. So I spent some time thinking about this, considered their argument, and came to this conclusion. They’re wrong.
First of all, opposition to the current government or any government in Israel is not anti-Zionism. Although I don’t always appreciate the way people oppose a sitting President or government policies in the United States, I don’t accuse someone of being anti-American or unpatriotic when doing so. The foundation of all modern civilized countries is freedom. Freedom does not mean always liking what your leaders do and it does not mean you need to be quiet about how you feel. So opposition to government policy is not anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism is at best a misrepresentation of Israeli policy in order to smear Israel’s image, and at worst a refusal to recognize the rights of the Jewish people to have their own state. The latter is the key to my argument. Israel was formed, and still is a Jewish state. It is a state that allows other religions to live freely, despite the claims of the likes of Roger Waters and most recently Alice Walker, and it is a country that does not sponsor, support, or fund terrorist organizations. Israel is a democracy. Not the kind where the military will limit the results of power provided by the people in an election, and not the kind that elects fundamentally racist, bigoted and violent governments. It is the kind of democracy where people can live freely and with basic human rights.
The Palestinians in the West Bank were not even wanted by King Hussein’s Jordan in 1967, so when Israel captured the territory where they resided after the 6 Day War, the conditions of the people living there actually improved. Yasser Arafat plundered the funds of the Palestinians and took much of what was earmarked for their betterment and built his own little financial empire which consisted of among other things hotels in places like the Swiss Alps. An argument can be made that he did more to harm the Palestinians than any Israeli government ever could.
So when people proudly stand up and declare themselves anti-Israel or anti-Zionist, I hear the words Final Solution all over again. You want to criticize the government or its leadership, go ahead. But if you are going to oppose its very core I am going to call you what you are, a hater of Jews, also known as an anti-Semite.
In what would seem to be the most appropriate post to end the weekend tribute to Bevrijdinsdag, Dutch Liberation Day, I offer this video of the Liberation of Amsterdam. Although the harsh realities of what took place during these 5 years of Nazi occupation would soon come to light for those who had survived, on this day the good people of Holland had every right to celebrate. And that they did. As the Jews of Holland would learn of the devastation that had struck their world, those left in Holland, such as Sipora Groen, my mother and the woman on the cover of the book Jew Face, would at least be able to try to rebuild in what was now a free and always had been a friendly Holland. It is for this reason I take this opportunity to say on a personal note that although I am very proud of my Jewish roots, I am also very proud of my Dutch ones. Thank you Holland and thank you to all of the Dutch people for doing whatever you could to turn tragedy into hope. No nation deserved freedom more on that day and it has been my honor to celebrate it.
As Jews all over the world celebrate Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath), I think back once again to what we commemorated and remembered this week. It strikes me how the Holocaust reached even further than the 6 million killed. The basic freedom to practice the religion in any way was stripped from mostly every Jew in Europe. The lesson to us all, regardless of what we believe in or practice, is to never take for granted our freedom and to stand up and fight those who would oppress others merely for being what they are and for what they believe in. We must recognize it happened before in order to prevent it from happening ever again.