For some reason, thanks to these wonderful blogs, I often follow American media and newspapers more than English ones these days. Mostly it’s for the good. But I wonder if this would ever make it onto an American Network.
It’s from Channel 4 News which, along with BBC Newsnight, is the most respected current affairs show on TV. I actually only caught it thanks to the blogosphere. But there’s a big problem here…
Does this seem wildly partial to you? Are these stories and voices you’re even aware of?
I’m going to be brutally honest here. The response I’ve often got from my American friends (many of them with Jewish backgrounds), is that ‘You Europeans are more anti semitic… Europe is the heart of darkness for Jews anyway.’
Bizarrely, my British Jewish friends also get the same response. They’re not Jewish enough. They don’t value their own identity.
On US democratic blogs, the video that I’ve posted above incites flame wars without end. For more moderate bloggers, it’s a subject best avoided.
I feel remiss. I feel that my perceptions have been distorted by an American debate which is rabidly anti Israel, or rabidly pro. To be honest, on this one issue – unlike all the others – I feel that I’ve missed some real truths bye engaging on the blogosphere, spending fruitless hours hours trying to prove that the Israelis aren’t Nazis, or that Hamas aren’t Hitler.
Tony Judt, someone I’ve mentioned often because he’s a hero of mine and friend, has written on Israel in a way that only someone who in the IDF during the six day war can. Yet he was dropped from the New Republic and The New York Times for daring to suggest a binational state. However he finds a ready platform for his pieces in the great Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.
Uri Avnery, who I met in the ruins of the Sarajevo Library two years back, a former Knesset member who fought in the Irgun in the 40s, has for years run the Gush Shalom peace movement, and is tolerated in Israel, yet his ideas would rarely make it into the US Press.
So it’s not just Europe which debates these issue more freely but Israel itself. How come the country which is at the centre of this conflict, is tolerant of more debate than the US?
To provoke debate, let me propose an answer. Perhaps this is just another extension of US identity politics. Non-Jews feel they can’t shouldn’t participate, just as non-blacks or non-women or non-gay people feel reticent about expressing thoughts about racism, sexism or LGBT rights.
The ne plus ultra of identity politics is that, if you’re a black jewish gay woman, nobody is there to defend you.
Follow that logic to the end, and there will be no politics, compassion or imagination left.
Sorry to be so provocative after a celebratory week, but what think my fellow Moose?
BRIEF UPDATE: Well the title seemed a little premature, because there’s obviously much heat in the issue. However, rather than just words on a blog, I would suggest those of you who want to carry things further should sign the online petition of Jewish Voices for Peace.
You don’t have to be Jewish, and the principles of this organisation are pretty much in line with everything I’ve ever heard expressed on the Moose about the I/P conflict:
* A U.S. foreign policy based on promoting peace, democracy, human rights, and respect for international law
* An end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem
* A resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem consistent with international law and equity
* An end to all violence against civilians
* Peace among the peoples of the Middle East
JVP supports peace activists in Palestine and Israel, and works in broad coalition with other Jewish, Arab-American, faith-based, peace and social justice organizations.
We oppose racism and bigotry, whether in the U.S. or abroad, whether against Arabs or against Jews.
Oh, and since I screwed the link up in a comment, I’d also really recommend support a great organisation, set up by US colleague of mine (and showrunner on Ugly Betty) One Voice which really does a lot of practical work, bringing young Israelis and Palestinians together.