A Different Minority Report on Israel

I get lots of correspondence, but a few paragraphs of something in my inbox today struck me as incisive and worthwhile sharing. It is doubly valuable in light of the opinion poll at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge that showed both black- and Latino-American support for Israel about twice that for the Palestinians.

Sorry to keep drawing parallels of the conflict to the historic experience of my ethnicity, but when I go through this exercise, it really helps me to see how absurd the claims and actions are of the anti-Israel contingent. Bear with me. There are persons of other ethnic minorities who have also turned to their respective historical experiences to come to the same conclusions as I. I read a good one today from “an angry black woman.” There is also this account from someone who is Metis.

For me as a Mexican who descends from people who saw their land truly stolen—not bought as the Zionists did—by people who had no historic, social, genetic or cultural connection to the American Southwest —again, completely unlike the Zionists—I can still stand behind supporting the government of the usurpers enough to embrace it as my government. Why? Because the bones of this government—the US Constitution—are fine and beautiful. The flesh encasing that skeleton in the 19th century may have run contrary to the ideals expressed in the Constitution, but much of that flesh has changed, owing to the fact that it did run contrary to the “bones” of our government.

I think many Mexican Americans in the 20th century instinctively recognized that fundamental reality even as they continued to face severe discrimination before and after their US military service. My family members were cognizant of the discrimination they faced, but were fiercely patriotic to the US and critical of Mexico … something I couldn’t quite grasp when I was in high school and college. Only years later did I come to realize that they rightly knew that the US is the best place to be. We have a Constitution that gives all its citizens hope enough to weather the storms.

If an indigenous people can come to embrace the government of the usurpers, ever more so ought Arabic-speaking Christians embrace the government enacted by Zionists—a people who were not usurpers, but indigenous as well (allowing for different parameters) and are, at the least, spiritual brethren. I hope Israelis—Jewish and Christian—find a way to foster this relationship.

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7 Responses

  1. S.R.Y says:

    I think the piece by the “angry black woman” is one of the most moving and eloquent pieces I’ve read about the situation.

  2. DF says:

    The intention is good, but I’m not sure if its helpful to get into the wearying identity politics of national grievances. Why do we care what blacks or latinos think about Palestinians? What about Catholics, the Irish, American Indians? All these people also suffered discrimination. Maybe we should take micro-polls of them too? I’m quite sick and tired of the silly game of “whose grievance is worse”, and the grotesque way this victim mentality disease has metastasized.

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    Great piece and comments! Can anyone find any Mexican American who wants to move back to Mexico or an African American who would prefer to be a slave of an Arab?

  4. David Z says:

    DF–we should use any means possible to help our brethren in Israel through outreach efforts here, even if such help is only temporary. I don’t get your pessimism. Everyone has a different lens through which to view things. I think his is an important one for Americans who might misunderstand what is happening in Israel. But I am slightly uncomfortable with his argument, because Israel, while much better than any surrounding country, is not the US. It does not have the same “bones.” It is a Jewish State, and is fundamentally different than a nominally secular state.

    Instead, I will restate here an analogy I think is apt (if imperfect) for our American audience (who tends Palestinian). Let’s say in a few hundred years, the Lakota descendants have maintained their cultural identity and return to the reservation as the rest of the country becomes weak after years of neglect. The Lakota get sick of American tourists trampling the sacred Black Hills and carving images of their presidents in its rocks (Crazy horse monument is very controversial, by the way). So the Lakota re-establish an independent state and repel an American invasion. Some of the Americans who have lived for hundreds of years inside the Lakota’s now expanded borders flee and some remain behind to be granted full civil right in the new Lakota state. After several more invasions, the Lakota have defensible borders, have retaken the disputed Black Hills and are doing well for the first time in hundreds of years with renewed spirit. Now let’s say you’re in Canada (and not afraid of any of your own tribes doing the same). Are you going to have more sympathy for former South Dakotans who commit terrorist attacks on the Lakota and randomly shoot rockets into the Lakota state or with the Lakota who have thrown off hundreds of years of oppression and colonization by foreign powers, built a just state on Lakota values, even allowing relatives of the same South Dakotans who are lobbing rockets against them to dwell securely in the Lakota state? I can keep going, but you can fill in the rest of the analogy. Perhaps I spent too much time with American indians, but it seems a compelling narrative to me. And that’s admitting that the Lakota were pretty much vicious barbarians before the Americans came. Which wasn’t the case with the Jews and the Romans and then Arabs. And you can do the same with some indigenous peoples in Mexico–let’s the Oaxacans, with the Spanish and then the Americans standing in for the Romans and Arabs/Muslims. We are not the colonizers. The Arabs were in the 7th Century. And various colonizers have been fighting each other for control of our land ever since. until 1948. When we got to fight for it. And miraculously won. And it’s important for every bleeding heart liberal to know that.

  5. David Z says:

    Oops–with Oaxacans, I meant Spanish and then Mexicans. 🙂

  6. DF says:

    “Instead, I will restate here an analogy I think is apt (if imperfect) for our American audience (who tends Palestinian).”

    And that’s exactly the problem. Americans do NOT “tend Palestinian.” To the contrary, the average American, even today, is at least nominally Christian if not more, and still identifies with Israel. This country was founded by Philo-semites, and place names all over the country reflect that. Americans have never identified with Arabs, and the 9/11 terrorism attacks just cemented that antipathy to Arabs. And all of this is to the extent they even care or think about the matzav at all. Most simply take no notice of it, period.

    I sometimes think columnists simply need to fill their weekly copy, and thus resort to hand-wringing about “the media.” The reality is that there is no such thing as “public opinion.” Editorialists and news readers have their own biases, like anyone else, and their opinions no more convince anyone than the opposite viewpoints in different papers and channels do. I’m not saying we don’t need PR, of course we do, that’s just a function of modern life. But the obsession some of us have with how the left perceives us is unhealthy and unproductive. The left never worries about what the right is saying about it, it just doggedly advances it agenda. The right has to take a lesson from them.

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    Commentary published two articles on its blog which are must reading and can be summarized as follows-Israel does not exist or function to serve as a means of fulfilling the needs or fantasies of American liberal Jews who may profess to be Zionist, but hold Israel to an unacceptable moral standard that no country in the world can fullfil. it is basically what you can find in the columns of Roger Cohen, Thomas Friedman, and other articles on the web that show no understanding of how the revelation of tunnels constructed via US $ were a game changer for prominent residents of Israel’s land for peace founders such as Amos Oz.

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