I wish we could mourn Pittsburgh as one Jewish people — but we can’t

 

I have taken excerpts from original post.

By Simone Zimmerman

I want to mourn with all of my beloved Jewish people, but as the Israeli Right exploits this tragedy for their political gain, aided by their apologists in the American Jewish establishment, it is clear that even in our mourning, we are divided.

Deflecting and scapegoating 

Following the massacre, Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted, “They were killed because they are Jews… We must never forget that. We are one,” and thanked President Trump for his support of the victims.

In an interview with MSNBC, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer deflected a question about Trump’s anti-Semitic dog whistles by justifying criticism of George Soros before pivoting to criticizing campus pro-Palestine activists and Louis Farrakhan. He insisted that anti-Semitism, “has been going on for many many centuries,” and that Trump’s election had nothing to do with what happened in Pittsburgh.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s diaspora and education minister, who flew to Pittsburgh to participate in the memorial hosted by the local federations, said, “From Sderot to Pittsburgh, the hand that fires missiles is the same hand that shoots worshipers. We will fight against the hatred of Jews, and anti-Semitism wherever it raises its head. And we will prevail.”

[The present day Sderot was built on farmland belonging to another Palestinian Arab village called Najd, its 422 Muslim inhabitants living in 82 homes, growing citrus, bananas and cereals. They shared the same fate as the people of Huj. On 12 and 13 May 1948, the Negev Brigade of the Israeli army – again, according to Morris – drove them out. They, too, were sent into exile in Gaza. Thus did the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, as another Israeli historian, Illan Pappé, calls it bluntly, wipe from history the people who farmed the land on which Sderot would be built.]

The Israeli prime minister has made clear in the last two years that when faced with the choice, he will prioritize his alliances with far-right nationalists like Trump and Hungary’s Viktor Orban over the needs and safety of world Jewry.

This is dangerous precisely because the violent, xenophobic nationalism espoused by Trump is the same kind espoused by Netanyahu and Bennett, who repeatedly incite against Palestinians, African asylum seekers, and leftists. Groups like AIPAC and the ADL — in refusing to call out the GOP’s white nationalism, in conflating all Jews with Israel, and in unfairly scapegoating Muslims — are giving them cover and distracting us from what is actually happening.

It is utterly dizzying to watch all of this play out. I keep desperately hoping to be proven wrong, to see that in such an extreme moment like this, that our Jewish leaders will take one moment to do what they always said they are here to do — to defend Jewish lives when we are under attack. I keep hoping to hear them give American white supremacy the impassioned, unequivocal condemnation it so desperately deserves. I want to believe that there are still some things so clear cut that our whole community can stand together against them.

But they haven’t. Worse, they have covered and deflected and justified. And so, we can’t mourn together.

Our fear and pain cannot be treated as a-political, because this tragedy is political. Not reacting accordingly relinquishes power to those who have fanned the flames of hatred that have led us to this moment. In 2018, it is long past time to stop ceding politics to the far right because it is literally killing our people.

 

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