Peace with Realism

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Finding Converts

Jewish activists for the Palestinian cause are not a gratuitous windfall. The Palestinians make great efforts to recruit them. The International Solidarity Movement, which has a history of supporting terrorism and which works to undermine Israel's security, is just one pro-Palestinian organization involved in such recruitment. Indeed one of its leaders, Adam Shapiro, is "of Jewish descent" (to use the missionaries' phrase). The ISM tries to recruit Jewish members very deliberately. The following is from an International Solidarity Movement "Call for Mature (older) and Jewish ISMers":

ISM especially encourages older people to come to join in our work, as older people tend to command more respect from the Israeli army, and from the public in general, and as such are an extremely valuable resource for us. In addition, we particularly invite Jewish people to join the movement. Already, about 25% of our activists come from Jewish backgrounds. It is much more easy for Jewish people to enter Israel and more embarrassing for the Israeli government to deport Jews, making our Jewish contingent extremely valuable to the movement.(3)

Jewish members also give the ISM inestimable propaganda value.

In addition to recruiting Jewish members, the ISM tries to showcase any pro-Palestinian Jews it can find. They have reprinted on their web site an article from the Jerusalem Post by a resident of Gush Etzion about her "pro-Palestinian cousin."

On Wednesday of last week a group calling itself Boston to Palestine visited my settlement of Bat Ayin.

The group, whose trip was funded by the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, is spending a few weeks traveling to different Palestinian refugee camps throughout the country. Their goal is to learn about the issues surrounding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from the Palestinians themselves.

Among the seven-person group is my cousin Ruth.(4)

While the writer expresses her strong disagreement with the ISM's views, she portrays this group of visitors as well-mannered and committed social activists. One helped run a soup kitchen in the United States; others were involved in different forms of political activity. One of them cried when she thought of the "separation wall": "There's so much violence and hatred, I thought as humans we'd be in a better place by now," she said. The writer listened and expressed her sympathy, "all the time feeling sad for our reality, but knowing it was a reality they would never understand from America."

One can actually admire the writer's sensitivity towards people so closely allied with her implacable enemies. And in this we find a clue to understanding them. She portrays them, above all, as idealists, hoping for a peace that actually seems attainable if only we try to reach out to each other.

This is why "self-hating Jew" cannot be a complete explanation of Jews who embrace anti-Jewish causes. Idealism, the kind that comes straight out of Jewish tradition, also plays a part. To be sure there is also very often a discomfort and embarrassment about one's Jewishness. This curious mix of Jewish and anti-Jewish feelings creating friction within the Jewish soul may help explain the visibility of Jewish Israel-haters.

To understand fully why some Jews attack Israel we need to explore both of these themes: Jewish idealism, and the embarrassment and fear of being Jewish.

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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:
Peace with Realism