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An Eye For An Eye


There is a long history of anti-semitism in America. 

One particularly prevalent, and openly racist accusation, was that Jewish people were somehow questionably loyal to America (or wherever they lived) because of a presumed overriding loyalty to Israel. They weren’t “real” Americans, as their loyalty couldn’t be trusted.

This has been going on since the establishment of Israel after World War II, when the Allied forces made a mess of large portions of the known world by dividing up countries based on arbitrary lines, creating civil strife where none previously existed. “There, now this is country,” they said, ignoring that they’d just split up one tribe and put half of them with a completely different, and often warring, tribe. They all looked alike to the Europeans so who cares, right?

Loyalty is not a binary thing, though some think it should be. You can be a proud person of Mexican heritage and also be a proud American. Many American Christians will tell you that they put God before country, which is a questionable allegiance if you’re being asked to represent everyone in your community, and not just those from your faith tradition. But we see that as ethically sound behavior.

In reality, you can hold more than one thought in your head at a time, and you can claim allegiance to more than one thing. People who believe themselves to be patriotic Americans might also pledge allegiance to a religion, a professional sports franchise, or to their family. No one thinks to question their patriotism just because they profess a love of God, Texas, their mom, or the Cleveland Browns.

Questioning the patriotism of Jews, or any other group, based solely on their heritage, culture or faith, is wrong. The Jewish people are in a particularly unique space in that the entire point of Zionism is that Judaism is not just a religion, or a race, but a people with a country as well. It is all of those things. There isn’t much else in the way of things to compare this to.

I’m an Irish Catholic by heritage but really I’m just your run of the mill white, Protestant Christian mutt, born in America. I’m not Jewish, or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian. I don’t even live anywhere near the Middle East. So clearly I should have no dog in this fight.

Personally, I don’t have any idea what is going in Ireland and could give a shit if it’s one country or two, whether they stay in the EU or not, or whether they turn all the castles into pubs, and burn down the churches. I’m not that kind of Irish. I don’t give a shit.

The problem is that Christians everywhere traditionally have a vested interest in the future of the state of Israel because that’s where the Messiah is said to be returning to someday. I don’t buy into this need to defend Israel at all costs, but I understand the argument. How is Jesus going to come back and make you all sorry for doubting me and my wacky beliefs, if Jews aren’t in control of the Promised Land?

This question of loyalty is also not without cause when so many Jewish Americans defend Israel no matter what their government does. We don’t even expect that from citizens of this country. In fact, it’s part of our national identity to shit on the government. It’s taken over from baseball as our national pastime. But even Jews who criticize Israel are blasted as being disloyal or worse, self-hating.

It comes off as disingenuous when criticism of Israel here in America is met with such animosity. That Israel should somehow get a pass we wouldn’t give to any other country, just because Jews have been persecuted and Jesus was born there. It’s a little weird.

I was raised to believe that picking on the little guy is always wrong. That human rights were something that America stood up for. That we were the good sort of bully. The world’s playground monitor who would step in when someone was playing too rough.

I’ve simplified the shit out of a complicated situation, this is true. But some of this, is just not that complicated. It’s been made out to be complicated by those who have no incentive for the fighting to end. It’s just your basic tribal warfare. It’s a gang war for turf with long-held grudges that never end. You kill one of mine, so now I have to kill one of yours. It’s a fire that is never quenched. It’s stupid and it’s childish.

Israel is unquestionably, the most powerful force in the region. They hold all the cards. Not to mention that they have the world’s biggest bully, carrying the world’s largest stick, leering over their right shoulder, daring anyone to fuck with them.

Now I don’t know anyone who feels that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist, though there are obviously some in the world who do. I think we’re all pretty much on board that Israel is a country, and that they’re not going anywhere, nor should they. Everyone who has a country, took it by force at one time or another. That’s just the way human beings operate, and most animals for that matter.

But I can’t fathom this notion that Israel is in any way justified for shitting on a powerless people, simply because they do not share the same god or cultural heritage. There is no past injustice that would allow me to rationalize Israel’s actions today. None. It’s a medieval, archaic mentality that makes anyone believe they are God’s chosen people, no matter who you pray to, or what direction you pray.

The irony that Christians believe that Jews are going to hell, and that Jews think that Jesus was not the Messiah, is not lost on me. The Muslims think both the other two are going to hell to boot. All the Abrahamic faiths fighting amongst themselves, since the beginning of our collective histories. Cain and Abel. At each other’s throats.

I would be against a national religion in any situation, in any country, and in fact much of Israel, is largely secular. But how do you separate a culture where race, religion and cultural identity are so throughly intertwined? You can’t, or so it would seem.

No one likes to talk about this subject, because it’s too hot. I’m going to get all sorts of flack just for bringing it up. But ask yourself, who did I attack? What did I say that was so wrong? I’m being critical of Israel, but not of Hamas or the Palestinians, so I’m not being fair. That is the criticism I will hear, and I have an answer to that criticism.

If you have a fight between equally matched forces, it’s easy to see how it takes two to tango. Both need to be willing to fight to keep the conflict going. But when one side is occupying the lands of another, and treating the people who live there differently then they treat their own, it’s different. When one side has homemade rockets and slingshots, and the other has sophisticated laser guided missiles, let alone an Air Force and nuclear weapons, it’s different. When one side has the power to kill or evict you from land you’ve lived on for generations to make room for their own children, it’s different. In fact, if it were anywhere else, we would simply call it genocide.

The only reason Israel gets any slack at all is because we all know the Jews been treated like shit for centuries. We know they were persecuted and oppressed, and one asshole even tried to kill them all. It was not a small matter, and we have not forgotten.

But it’s really hard to view them as the victim now, when they are doing the same thing to someone else. The abused has become the abuser. 

It’s the history of human violence in a nutshell, and it may never end, but I no longer want to be a party to it. I do not want my government to be a party to it. I do not want my tax dollars to pay for this oppression and violence. An eye for an eye? Enough is enough.

Where were the good Germans outside of Auschwitz? Perhaps they were told it wasn’t their problem, and to mind their own business, and so they did.

I hate bullies. It does not matter to me that you were once bullied yourself. It’s wrong and it will always be wrong.

The legal premise of an eye for an eye was an ancient understanding of justice. If you kill a man, you will be put to death. If you take his cow, you owe him a cow in return. The idea being that the punishment should fit the crime, no more and no less.

But generational violence never ends, because there is always a debt to pay, someone is always missing an eye. Or as Gandhi once said, an eye for an eye results only in the whole world being blind.

Surely, this is not what God intended.

About the author

David Todd McCarty

David Todd McCarty is a writer, director, photographer and cinematographer. He writes fiction and nonfiction essays as well as journalism. You can see his commercial work at http://www.hoppingfrogstudios.com

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Writer | Journalist | Storyteller


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