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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why We Can't Just "All Get Along"

I have a stepdaughter who recently visited her siblings in the San Francisco Bay Area. Neither of the California siblings is strongly connected to anything remotely resembling a Jewish heritage. As the most important aspect of coming-of-age-in-the SFBA is 'fitting in,' there tends to be an assimilation to the Mainstream, which is a kind of post-hippie, multi-spiritual, politically correct world view where all beliefs are of equal un-value, and it's deemed "not cool" to 'pass judgment' on anything in this bubble of rectitude (except out and out racism against non-Jewish minorities is given lip-service proscription).

So Oldest Daughter has a discussion with the siblings about the Middle East. The youngest asks in plaintive tones, "Why can't Everyone Over There just get along?" This child is a recent product of the University of California system with a degree in psychology. So much for a university education and its ability to install an informed world view.

Oldest Daughter grew up in both Israel and California. Oldest Daughter is a product of the kibbutz system, and while not datia, is certainly conversant with Israel and what it means to be Jewish. Oldest Daughter has served in the military, gone to college, and has a firm grasp of the Middle East, both ancient and modern.

She provided her sibs with the best answer I've ever heard for those who are either uninformed or in denial about the Middle East:

"We can't just 'all get along' because frankly, why should we? Why should we, Israelis, products of an ancient tradition of learning as well as a post-Renaissance and humanist society, get along with a bunch of medieval fanatics who at their most liberal concede that some Jews might be allowed to survive the coming Arab-led genocide and live here as second-class citizens under Palestinian law?"

"These are people who deny the Holocaust ever happened, insist that Jewish antiquities are all fakes planted by the Israeli government, and claim that despite the Koran, the Bible and the Tanakh, the Jews have no historical affiliation with this land whatsoever."

"These are people who believe that women are second-class citizens, and that its okay for fathers to totally control their daughters' lives. This is a society that condones honor killings because a girl talked to a boy without a male relative being present and without having prior approval of the family patriarch. This is a society that agitates for the imposition of "Moslem law," meaning Sharia--a Code which calls for execution by impaling of homosexual men and the stoning of women who engage in "immoral behavior," which is defined by, of course, the men. This is a Code which gives full credit to the testimony of a Moslem male but denies such weight to the testimony of non-Moslems and Moslem females---so even if a woman denies a charge of 'immoral behavior' the testimony of her male accuser outweighs her denial."

"These are people who openly glorify the killing of Jews, are terrorizing the Christian communities of the West Bank, killing Christians in Gaza, throwing their political rivals off of rooftops and indoctrinating their children to hate anyone who isn't like them."

"Do YOU want to live in a society like that?" she challenged them. "You really want Abba picking your husbands for you? You really want to be told you have to cover up from head to toe just to go to the store?"

"Why should we be expected to "get along" with people like this?"

I gather from her account that this information was something new to the siblings, and that as a general principle, no, they didn't themselves want to live in such a society.

I have to applaud her for putting it so succinctly. It seems that many folks in our former domicile have extremely simplistic views of the Middle East, and a vast unfamiliarity with the history and the societies that exist here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this young lady should be granted an audience with Condoleeza Rice. Clearly, she is more aware of the realities of the situation than are our so called friends in Washington.

Sunday, December 16, 2007 at 8:58:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Thanks. I've always thought it a shame she didn't go into ME Studies and government service--she certainly has a great grasp of the realities here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007 at 9:13:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It seems that many folks in our former domicile have extremely simplistic views of the Middle East, and a vast unfamiliarity with the history and the societies that exist here."

You said it, sister. I spent a lot of college nights working on this one with people, and I hear it's gotten worse. Some of the basic elements are:

1. An incredibly limited grasp on the modern history of the Middle East (anything from the fifteenth century on, say,) or current political beliefs and realities.

2. A belief that as soon as a magic cure is found for the Israel/Palestinian conflict, every other problem in the Middle East, including that of Islamist terrorism on the worldwide stage, will melt away like snow.

3. A tendency to overlay limited knowledge of the situation with stock and inaccurate-to-the-situation ideas about imperialism, racism, colonialism, and religious bigotry. (See, UC.)

To be fair, I'm sure that I am equally ignorant about lots of things I read about in the paper on a daily basis. At the same time, it is infuriating to deal with. Sounds like your daughter is doing well.

Monday, December 17, 2007 at 6:15:00 AM GMT+2  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

balabusta--selah! I engaged a woman colleague of Arab descent in a testy conversation about ME politics one day, and stopped in astonishment when she said, "What's that?" in response to my mention of the Ottoman Empire. Sykes-Picot and the San Remo Conference also drew blank stares. All her information came from the SF Chronicle and the Electronic Intifada.......sigh....

Monday, December 17, 2007 at 5:18:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think I <3 your stepdaughter!

Forget Rice -- can we get her an audience with our own?! Olmert, Peres and Barak should hear the likes of her! And how about Beilin for good measure, too?

Come to think of it.... I can suggest a few local journalists....

Monday, December 17, 2007 at 9:34:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

zahava--ah, but would they really listen?? Olmert has heard the polls for months and is still in denial about his lack of mandate....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 8:04:00 AM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so when is she starting her own blog? I'd love to link to it!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007 at 10:37:00 AM GMT+2  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

wbm--she has one, but it's limited to invitees only (ie: no parents) and I gather it's personal rather than political musings. I'm sure if it were political rather than personal, it would be open to the public at large.

Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 3:10:00 PM GMT+2  

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