Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Being Pro-Israel

Let me begin by saying that I am pro-Israel. My mother so honored Israel and many of its leaders, especially Golda Meier. When I was a kid I distinctly remember following the Israel-Egyptian Peace Treaty of 1979 with great interest. We were all glued to the TV screen and newspaper articles were read aloud each night. But does being pro-Israel mean that you cannot criticize Israel? Does being pro-Israel mean that you have to agree with all of its policies?

The latest news is that Barack Obama has a Palestinian friend and is being questioned about this relationship. I well understand that we are in a tough political race. But what does the questioning infer about Senator Obama and Palestinians in general? When such inferences are made there is the sense of inflaming mistrust and engendering fear, surface-based or existentially-rooted.

I wondered as I listened to the argument against Senator Obama if it is indeed possible to be pro-Israel and associate with Palestinians? Can they be friends? Many Palestinians, by the way, are Christians. But why should that even matter? There are many citizens of the world who are not Christians with whom we must have relations whether we agree or disagree with all of their policies.

My family has been in this country for centuries; many have bleed, fought, and died for this country, even when this country did not honor them. I am thoroughly pro-America. But does this mean that I cannot criticize my country? Does this mean that I can not have Cuban, Iranian or Syrian friends without being suspect?

Yes, I understand the years of unrest in the Middle East. I also understand that Israel is our ally in the region and that there are strong ties between the two countries. But I also think that it is not only necessary, but imperative that we critically look at the policies of any country, ally or not. Criticism is how we often grow as a people, as a nation, and as citizens of the world.


Catvibe said...

Such good points. Who decides these things? Are we to ostracize people because of their religion? People are above religion, and above politics I think. I sometimes think that if McCain were to win next week, I would declare myself a 'not' american, but that is a reaction and not the reality. Yes, we can criticize Israel, America, Islam, Christianity, and we can hold the participants therein as our brother/sisters, because we are all human beings after all. Thank you for this insightful post.

judith ellis said...

"People are above religion and above politics." What a great point, catvibe. I laughed aloud reading your desire to declare yourself "'not' American." I understand the sentiment. I also appreciate your point about the inclusiveness of us all as human beings. My mother had twelve children and we are all of different idealogy and political parties. We love each other incredibly, but we have serious debates. Believe me! We think we are the better for it.

wmmbb said...

I think we should respect other peoples religions even if we don't understand them. Many of us do not understand Christianity, although we have some familiarity with its variants.

I make this point because I was traveling yesterday with an Egyptian taxi driver, from Port Said. I know this because I am rude enough to ask. When I got in the cab he was playing Islamic music, and then he switched it over.I asked him about it, and he switched it back and listened to it for the rest of the ride, while we discussed Islam. I learn something anyway.

I agree with you, Judith:
"Criticism is how we often grow as a people, as a nation, and as citizens of the world." Except I would say disagreement rather than criticism, or at least disagreement is fundamental, in my view, to democracy.

judith ellis said...

I loved your story, wmmbb! Thank you. In this regard, I guess I'm rude too, as I'm always asking questions of others and I'm forever curious of otherness in general.

I understand your distinction between being critical and, in essence, disagreeable. But to disagree may or may not include critical thinking, but perhaps a more visceral reaction.

From an etymological sense to criticize is to look analytically at a situation. This requires examination and evaluation and in the best sense engagement and experience.

Critical thinking is a much needed thing in society today and it need not be mean-spirited or nasty. But it needs to be.

I appreciate your sentiment here, wmmbb.