Who Are We?

Dear fellow Baltimorean: I saw your letter to the editor (“BDS Is More Like BS,” April 7) and wanted to respond to your concerns as a member of our community.

Our religious and historic connection to Israel is irrelevant as it does not give us the right to hold stateless people under military occupation. The partition plan is irrelevant as the State of Israel is a fait accompli. The state of Israel exists, the state of Palestine does not — and does national self-determination not apply to them as well?
If we are going to rehash 1948, are we going to take responsibility for the violence committed against Palestinian civilians, which was condemned by Jewish luminaries no less than Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt? Why was this shameful element of the war not part of my Jewish education growing up?

You say the Palestinians celebrate violence. I say, does that give us the right to hold them stateless under military occupation? If the Palestinians are allegedly a violent death-worshipping culture, why have I heard my friends and family say so many times we should turn Gaza into a parking lot?

Liberal and leftist Jews support the Dakota pipeline protestors and note the parallel nature of the conflict — militarized control of public resources. The pipeline protestors and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement are cut from the same cloth — nonviolent civil disobedience. You bring up the Native Americans as a childish gotcha. “Aha! You criticize Israel while living on stolen American land!” To which I say, Nu, so you do admit the land was stolen?

My last question: Did HaShem our God take us out of Egypt with an outstretched gun and with bullets and checkpoints, with ID cards, and tanks, and prisons? Did He split the sea with a border? And did we cross it with a passport? Is the voice of God found in the thunder of a Merkava, in the earthquake of a demolition … or in the thin, still, silent sound? In other words, who are we, and who do we want to be?

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