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Not that it has ever been easy, but recently expressing sympathies for Israel among European leftwing liberals receives the same reaction as if you had said: I like fake boobs. People have a hard time imagining that there could be any other reason for saying something like this besides having been completely brainwashed.
The hostility towards the Jewish State is much bigger than those who harbor the hostility intend. I don´know how it is in the other European countries, where there is no Holocaust trauma, but for many on the extreme German Left and also Center, it makes sense to believe in a legend about the Germans learning more from Auschwitz than the Jews. Many think that „especially the Jews should know how it is like to be persecuted“. It is absolutely correct to view history as a teacher, and the Jews do this quite intensely with their strange glorification of national events, which sometimes leads to humanistic highlights like: „Don´t oppress the stranger for once you have been a stranger in Egypt“. And human beings should learn from the past, but the average Anti-Zionist believes that the war ended for the Jews just like it did for the Germans. There wasl respect to all fallen soldiers of Germany and Israel, but every person should agree that it was easier to return to Munich after losing a war, than to the not even existing Israel after losing everything and sometimes even everyone. And by this I´m not saying that it wasn´t a disaster for everyone involved also in Germany. But the war didn´t end for the Jews in 1945. The Jews as an entity weren´t at war. Some were struggling for a state in Palestine since the 1880s, others were leading comparable comfortable lives in the US, and others were exterminated – in Europe. The faith in humanity in Germany is far reaching, since the experience was that one can start and lose at least one World War and get away with it and get a new chance. If you see all humanity as one society, this experience is something for the richer upper class. A war is lost, but since then so much was won that it really doesn´t matter, Germany´s uncle is a millionaire. And since Israel is seen WITH RESPECT as part of the Western hemisphere – the cultural zone where killing homosexuals is not a National TV event – many think that Israel is basically Germany, but completely stuck in the wrong Testament. Actually, Israel has 99 problems, but a bitch AIN´T one.
But Israel´s defenders make the mistake that they DEFEND instead of EXPLAIN. You cannot defend the situation of the occupation in Hebron. You cannot expect a German leftwing politician to go there and return without saying anything. But you can explain WHAT HAPPENED making things as messed up as they are now.
What is needed to be understood is that Israel´s uncle is not a millionaire, Israel´s uncle was killed by the Nazis. So while even many humanists think that Israel is taking a bigger share than it deserves because of its rich American lobby aka the Elders of Zion, it forgets that the essential problem of Israel is not being an egocentric child, but being an orphan. Rightwing Orthodox Judaism is an egocentric child, but not Israel. Israel is the „Chosen People“ not because God chose them over others, but because they chose to live. The underdog who is trying to make it without the rich parents in the back has always been a socialist ideal. And early Zionists such as Theodor Herzl and others had evolved from the background of the enlightenment period in German (speaking)-Jewish history, and their vision of the Jewish State was always based on a respect for all humanity based on the teachings of the Hebrew Prophets. In „Altneuland“ Herzl introduced two fascinating characters, one is David Littwak, a strong Zionist who builds up a new society based on humanistic ideals rooted in biblical ethics, and Rabbi Geyer, a racist aiming at a segregated society. Herzl´s sympathies were with David Littwak. Nowadays both visions have their own state, David Littwak´s Israel is within the 1967 borders and Rabbi Geyer´s Israel in the occupied territories. When British universities make a boycott against Israeli academics, they are boycotting David Littwak, not Rabbi Geyer. In „Al Kusari“, one of the most famous Jewish religious texts by Yehuda Halevi, the pagan Khazar king, had a discussion with a Rabbi and told him that the only reason the Jews argue morally is because they are always the minority, but if they would be the majority one day in some state, it will show whether the ideals are reality-proof. And were they proof? Yes and No! Not as many Israelis seem to think of course, since Rabbi Geyer is stronger than ever when judging by racist Kahanist views among Israeli youngsters and the fact that many „self-hating secular rightwingers“ claim that only the National Religious Zionists are the last ones who still know what they are fighting for. The occupation is THE danger to Zionism, and the fact that many Israelis who felt unloved by Europe turned towards American Christian Evangelicals who aim at building an intolerant theocracy is rather sad, if not a tragedy. But on the other hand Israel has managed to build up a society in the Middle East with surprisingly high standards when judged by the historical situation. If you want to know how conflicts are usually solved in this region then look at Assad in Syria. This is authentic. But Israel isn´t the fake boob, it´s a very natural boob in a good shape and Assad is just a sad-Ass. The European sees only the soldier hitting the peace activist, and develops an antipathy towards the same Israeli state that immediately suspended the soldier. As bad and unsympathetic that soldier was – this was NOT Abu Ghraib. This was not Guantamo. And the people are right, this would never happen in Syria. Because no peace activist would get that far there.
So, once you explained all of this, it usually doesn´t satisfy a person who dedicated himself to the idea of Israel being the original problem. And as an argument comes the classic of all classics: Just because some people are worse, doesn´t make you good. But then, dear friends of friendly humanism, please also add: If no one is absolutely good, this does not make Israel worse, and it means the biggest caution should aim at one´s own judgements of others. And the clearest air of Nepal is breathable, once you notice that you can solve the Middle East conflict in your own street, in your own family in your own soul. Everyone has his Zionism and everyone has his borders of 1967 in which he should exist authentically.
As the poetry of the German poet Hermann Hesse goes: „Jüngling, halte stolz in deiner Brust, Minneleid und Minnelust, doch sollst du niemals glauben zu haben, mehr Gefühl als andere Knaben.“ It translates to something like: Dude, be proud of your emotions and your fire, but please don´t fucking think that you feel deeper than the others.
There is a great Jewish legend about a disciple asking his Rabbi in synagogue what the highest of the highest truth is. As a reaction the Rabbi runs out. After a few hours the Rabbi comes back and the disciple asks him where he´d been. The Rabbi replies: I was helping a poor widow and her kids doing some housework. You can´t be more leftwing than that. I hope that this Rabbi will replace Rabbi Geyer. And I hope that the Liberal Left in Germany and Europe will not turn their backs on the country of David Littwak which proves that blood, sweat and tears can be stronger than oil.