The Ten Conundrums
by Adam Engel
March 22, 2004

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1. Moses didn’t make me Jewish, Hitler did. And now, the Sharon keeps me in a locked box labeled "Jew."

2. Liberal Jews are for gun control; yet who is controlling the guns? The State. I’d rather not contribute to the State’s monopoly on violence. If you’re really worried that “it could happen here” then arm yourselves and stand up not only for Jews, but whoever the State is oppressing. Blacks. Latinos. Immigrants. Moslems. But no, we expect the “police” to protect us because, over the years, we have become “official whites.” The logic goes that Israel exists just in case something WERE to happen. I’ve actually had this argument, ridiculous as it seems, on several occasions with various people. The assumption is, I imagine, that if Jews were to become old-fashioned Diaspora Jews here, in America, that is, perceived enemies of the state, Israel would rescue them. Now, I really can’t imagine how Israel, powerful as it seems compared to Palestinians armed with rifles and grenades, is going to take on the United States and “rescue” a bunch of cowering liberal Jews that Israelis themselves despise. Not to mention that if the U.S. were to “turn” on the Jews, the annual three or more billion dollars of “aid” to Israel would not be forthcoming. And their military as well as their economy would collapse. They’d have a whole lot more to worry about than “rescuing” 5 million American Jews (and where, pray tell, would they put us?). The issue of gun-ownership is taboo in the “progressive community.” But if the Jews in Europe had been armed in 1940, Hitler would have had a hard time fighting war on two fronts as well as an internal war against armed Jews. Imagine 100 Warsaw uprisings. In addition, the U.S. has a hard enough time keeping the lid on Baghdad. Imagine if the Feds were to attempt to occupy an armed Chicago or New York. Again, I’m talking about standing up for any group, not just the Jews, that is persecuted by the state. Moslem Americans are being disappeared. What are we doing about it? Heaven forbid a liberal would defend his own life. Rather, let a $40,000 a year cop stand between him and a bullet (though I have a feeling the cop would side with the State on this one), or call on our Superhero Israelis to “rescue us” with the weapons paid for by the U.S. It’s all hypothetical, paranoid nonsense, but again, even as a thought experiment, it points to some fundamental inconsistencies. WE won’t bear arms against a potentially hostile state, but we’ll pay for the Israelis to bear arms against Palestinian refugees.

3. Where do American Jews get the chutzpah to demand a home in not one country, but two? We’ll live comfortable lives in Westchester or Boca Raton or Beverly Hills, but send money so that Brooklyn Hassids, who believe that old stroked-out Schneerson, (dead how many years now?) is the Messiah, can set up shop in the West Bank or Gaza.

4. After the holocaust, Jews were rightfully paranoid and outraged. Something had to be given by way of “reparation ” – as if anything could atone for such a coordinated, techno-bureaucratic destruction of human life. Hence, the Zionists took their opportunity. It should have been stopped in 1947. But it wasn’t. Israel had no right to establish itself on Palestinian land, not even “behind the green line.” But now that generations were born and grew up there, I’m not in favor of turning THEM into refuges. Nevertheless, they should be grateful for what they have behind the Green Line. The West Bank and Gaza will belong to A. Their rightful Palestinian owners B. a Bunch of Orthodox nuts from Brooklyn. Or maybe there is a third option: one democratic secular state in Palestine with equal rights for all (Hah! Dream on! says THE MAN, who needs the place full of Jews so Christ can return to earth and kill them).

5. American Jews, like American-Anyone Else, are willfully ignorant. It is as if all that blood under the bridge, not to mention two Intifadas, had never happened. I’m talking my own experience here, my experience, that I can vouch for with more confidence than anything I might quote from a book. We (this is of course a generalization, but except for “radical” leftists, I’ve yet to meet an American Jew who contradicted the stereo type), go to synagogue two or three times a year on the “high holy days” and “Passover,” do not believe in Yahweh or any other Biblical fairy tales, yet we “support” Israel, which we in general visit far less frequently than Europe, if we visit it at all.

6. I had an argument with just such a Jew I grew up with. Never went to Hebrew school, was not bar mitzvahed, doesn’t give a thought to the concept of an anthropomorphic, or any other kind of Deity. Yet when I pressed him about Palestinian rights to the land, he said the land was promised to the Jews in the Bible. “You’re telling me you believe in god and the Bible?” I asked “No, not at all, I’m just telling you what’s written and has always been followed by the Jews. Haven’t we Yids suffered enough?” "What about the Canaanites?" I asked. "Who?" "The Canaanites, the original inhabitants of the 'holy land.' Before the Hebrews could take the land of milk and honey, they had to smite every last Canaanite, man, woman and child. Show me a Canaanite and I'll show you the mother of all lawsuits." "That's not in the Bible. Anyway, even if it is, it's ancient history. Totally irrelevant," he snorted. "You mean, like the American Indians or Native Americans, or whatever," I said. "Exactly. What're they gonna do, take BACK America?"

7. The Zionists took away the few things I actually enjoyed about my “Jewishness,” the whole Bagel-and-lox-and-Pastrami on Rye food thing, and the feeling of being an “underdog” in league with Bugs Bunny, the Brooklyn Dodgers, Emma Goldman. Yiddishekeit, I believe it's called. Borscht Belt humor. Grandma's Matzo balls. Like any other ethnic group in America, much of the "identity" centered around food. Like my in-laws' Italian home cooking and homemade pizza every Friday night. A schmear of cream cheese on a bialy is worth every page of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and at least six of the Commandments. You can't eat the Law, after all, it eats you. A “real New York Jew,” as the father of a non-Jewish girlfriend once contemptuously called me, much to my pride. What the hell does Israel have to do with any of this?

8. One of the most egregious comments in a particularly nasty letter my asshole orthodox (though he knows no Hebrew) Uncle sent to me the night before my wedding to my Italian, non-practicing-Catholic wife had to do with “Jews finishing off what Hitler started” by intermarrying. So he was equating the cold-blooded murder of six million human beings with freedom of choice: my personal decision to marry the woman I loved?

9. That whole “There’s a difference between Jews and Zionists” thing was meant to A. give people some leeway in criticizing Israel without getting zapped by the “anti-Semite” arrow and B. Let liberal Jews feel somewhat less guilty about the crimes of beloved “Eretz Israel.” For where would the Zionist minority be without substantial support, financially, intellectually, emotionally, of the vast majority of secular Jews?

10. German Americans and Italian Americans fought and died to invade the lands where there parents were born in order, so the History books tell us, to rid those countries of their Fascist governments. The Japanese, meanwhile, due to the racial thing, were imprisoned because the Roosevelt Administration suspected some Japanese Americans might possibly harbor dual loyalties. Jewish Americans have proven on many occasions that they might possibly harbor dual loyalties. What if Israel and the U.S. went to war against each other? (personally, I wouldn’t support either, but that’s another story). As our recent bout of Franco-phobia (Freedom Fries?) proved, there are no "special relationships" among Nation States. And what if there had been no Diaspora or Palestinian "problem" and the Israelis had lived on the land for the past 3000 years? Wouldn’t it still behoove “supporters of Israel” to help liberate its citizens from crypto-fascist rulers like Sharon?

Adam Engel a dreaded Secular Humanist can be reached at bartleby.samsa@verizon.net

Other Articles by Adam Engel

* Natural Selection
* Revolution and Reform: An Interview with Lenni Brenner
* What?
* What's Left

* I, Clitoris
* Abraham & Sons, LLP
* Enough is Too Much
* Crumblecake and Fish
* Black is Indeed Beautiful: An Interview with Ernest Crichlow
* Pretty Damned Evil: An Interview with Edward S. Herman

* Hall of Hoaxes
* Black and White is Read All Over: An Interview with Tim Wise
* Born Again Republican
* Jew and Me
* The System Works

A Washington Lefty in King George's Court: A Conversation with Sam Smith
* Raising JonBenet: A Review of Cowboy's Sweetheart by Walter Davis Plus an Interview

* What It Is

* I Hope My Corpse Gives You The Plague

* Something Killer

* MAN Talk

* U.S. Troops Outta Times Square

* Parable of the Lobbyist

* The Fat MAN in Little Boy

* Talk Dirty Scary Monsters

* Gravity’s End Zone
* Towers of Babel, Woodstock and the Word
* Uncle Sam is YOU
* Flag in the Rain
* We Possessed
* American Bulk (SPAM and Ideal)
* Video Judas Video
* Wal-Mart & Peace





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