Proud to be an Israeli and a Jew
Do I not have the right to be a proud Jew in my own land: standing tall and looking at the world at eye-level? Is shaming and excommunication from the community of “civilized” nations of the world the price of my unwillingness to contribute to my own demise (for example in last summer’s war against Hamas in Gaza and today in the newest wave of violence against us)?
Does loving my country, culture and language mean that I am a Jewish fascist, as a long-time friend essentially accused me of being because I was exploring ideas on the right of the political spectrum? Does loving my country, culture and language imply that I hate Arabs?I remember a friend’s grandfather, a leader in the Toronto Jewish community, who told me way back in the 70s how Jews used to try to hide their Jewishness, but when the modern State of Israel was declared, they could suddenly walk erect on the streets of Canadian cities.
Remember how proud we were when there was talk of the innovative Israeli kibbutz, when the news showed the impossible rescue from Entebbe, and when our planes swooped down into Africa to bring the Ethiopian Jews home to Israel. And how proud we are at each new Israeli life-changing high-tech or medical invention.
I don’t understand why our own left, once also pleased with the disproportional accomplishments of our young modern nation, is now battering us over the head with increasingly shrill cries of fascism that can only come from a place of shame and fear. I don’t understand how they can plead with other countries to boycott us and otherwise strong-arm us into leaving parts of our own land, even adopting the language of those who seek to dispossess us. How did this happen?
Why can “Black is Beautiful” be a rallying call for pride among Black people, but we Jews should keep our eyes humbly downcast and not call out attention to ourselves? Why can Jews not be proud without being called racist and accused of nefarious intent in the Middle East?
Why must we deny our history (our indigenous connection to this land, our military victories against all odds, the full democratic rights automatically granted to the minorities who have been living with us since 1948, etc) and ascribe to a fable that seeks to appease Arab states and others who hate us? Why must we submit to patently discriminatory behaviours in the UN?
Why does our own left swallow all of this and try to shame the rest of us into becoming once more the stereotypical hunched over Jew?
I am Israeli and I am proud to be a Jew. And that is a good thing. And it means nothing more than that I am Israeli and that I am a proud Jew.
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A version of this post was originally published in Times of Israel blogs.