Truthdig - Milton Viorst on Israel’s Tragic Predicament
Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? —Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice,” Act III.Truthdig: Giving Israel a Pass
In opening his stunning memoir, “Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine”, David Shulman declares: “I am an Israeli. I live in Jerusalem. I have a story, not yet finished, to tell.” It is a very sad story, of a society gone astray with power, and of decent Israelis in despair over the failure of their efforts to save it from itself. The story, as Shulman says, is not yet over, but he asks whether its end is not already determined. Is tragedy inevitable? Can Israel right its course to achieve its once glowing promise as a refuge and as a nation?
As Sara Roy, a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, asked in an essay, “Why is it virtually mandatory among Jewish intellectuals to oppose racism, repression and injustice almost anywhere in the world and unacceptable—indeed, for some, an act of heresy—to oppose it when Israel is the oppressor, choosing concealment over exposure?”
Why the refusal to recognize that in 1947 and 1948 Jewish fighters embarked upon a policy of ethnic cleansing that succeeded in driving tens of thousands of Palestinians from their fields and villages? This is not a charge made by hate-filled Iranian or Syrian propagandists but one that has been meticulously researched and documented by Israeli historians themselves.
Why the reluctance to speak out when Israeli forces wreaked appalling death and destruction among civilians after they invaded Lebanon in 1982 and again last summer? Hundreds of Jewish soldiers in Israel refused to take part in the campaigns. Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in protest. Why were major Jewish organizations in the rest of the world so silent?
Why no horrified response to Israeli leaders who measure success these days in body counts and order so-called targeted assassinations with rockets in densely populated civilian areas, knowing that many innocents may be blown apart for every terrorist who is hit? Are the 27 decorated Israeli pilots who refused to take part in such attacks to be considered anti-Semitic by their American cousins? Why no outcry when Israel launches a brutal blockade—a collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinian men, women and children—threatening their supplies of fuel, food and medicines?