“Why are you whispering?” The young woman I helped raise to be a proud Jew wanted to know.
“Sometimes you have to use your ‘inside voice,’” my co-conspirator, a wickedly talented lesbian Jewish comic responded before I realized what we were doing.
We were deeply engaged in sharing our un-ambivalent support for Israel as a Jewish country.
We were hiding our support for the only country in the region where progressives, women, LGBT, can be free. It should be ok to be Zionists in a room full of progressives, only it isn’t anymore.
“It really annoyed me,” my young Zionist continued on our flight back home. “It really upset me. I knew you were talking about Israel. It was the only interesting conversation at the table and I couldn’t hear you!”
Of course she was right, and since when do I speak with an “inside voice” and shush her up when I am so proud of her Zionism? Hiding is not a value in our home.
“Whispering?” Was I back in my mother’s Iraq or my father’s Nasserite Egypt?
At the dinner party in Baghdad where the Grand Mufti turned out to be the guest of honor and Granny felt the cold sword of Jew hatred shatter her friendships?
Who was I, still the gaigin on the streets of Ashiya-gawa, the stateless Jew who killed Jesus in third grade?
Nope. I was on a work-vacation on a cruise ship raising money for the freed Kamlari, 13,000 girls and young women saved from domestic slavery by an NGO in Nepal.
“So why were you talking so low?” She wasn’t going to let me off the hook. I looked at Becca, my respect for her restoring mine.
My answer was pathetic.
“I wanted to have the conversation, I was starved to talk to someone who supported Israel. So if I had to whisper, I did.”
Ugh. This from me, a stateless Jew of Egyptian and Iraqi parents. Jew for the first 20 plus years of my life, “Jew” was the only “nationality” I had. I was never seen as Jew-ish until I got to America.
It’s a problem, Zionists, Jew and non-Jew, in the progressive community are being bullied and accepting it.
We don’t want to lose our progressive credentials, community, or our jobs.
It is increasingly acceptable to isolate, single out, and “boycott” Israel/Jews who want to remain Jews.
“Zionist” as a slur has replaced “dirty Jew” in the West. In the Islamic world where my family is from, “dirty Jew dog” is what it always was.
When I became a feminist in the late seventies, I thought I found a home in the LGB(not yet T) community. I was always a Zionist, and it was clear that Feminism was to women what Zionism was for Jews. It was a no-brainer, I was in. It was all Civil Rights.
During the Gaza war I was at my favorite Grateful Dead inspired hangout. Amazing concert hall, restaurant with music and place to breathe amongst three generations of counter culture.
When the person waiting on our table overheard my outrage at the left’s portrayal of Israel as murderous while it dismissed Hamas horror, I saw her smile turn on itself.
Her face turned into pure shock and disgust.
She was looking at a Zionist.
Such is the level of misinformation and the success of anti-Israel propaganda.
Saudi Wahabi-ism has gone far beyond its borders, Iran has been very busy supporting terror against Israel, and now too many progressives keep swallowing the lies. Israel the Jew is blamed for the horror the Islamic world created: Using Palestinians as human ammunition designed to destroy Israel, after waging conventional wars in 1948, 1967, 1973 that did not do the job.
It is understandable that sane, liberal, progressives in the West cannot imagine the degree of hatred towards Jewish sovereignty in a region the Islamic world is mandated to dominate.
They never imagined Israel would survive their aggression this far.
This outdated self-defeating sickness (your existence makes me feel bad about myself), has to change.
Despite how understandable it may be for free Western people not to comprehend the Islamic agenda, to remain ignorant or actually support the unbelievably destructive hatred towards Israel, and their oppression of their own people, is insane.
Elevating Islamic racist mentality and Hamas terrorists as desperate “freedom fighters,” while demonizing Israel is perverse.
It is just not progressive.
The waitress’ reaction, was a creepy experience. I can’t say I don’t care, but she is not a personal friend. I do care about the many friends I have had to lose, let go of, or people I will not reach out to because of their anti-Zionism. It is alienating, painful.I care that there are so many Jews I cannot be close to, synagogues I will not join, because of their “problem with Israel.” I care that I can raise money for the well deserving kamlari in the community I joined, but never do the same for the children who need PTSD clinics in Sderot.
Right. So here is my “outside” voice, loud and clear. No more “inside voice” when it comes to this progressive Jew’s unconditional support for Israel’s existence/Zionism.
Originally published in The Times of Israel on September 2, 2016