Anti-Zionist Jews are not and do not claim to be any more authentic or representative than any other Jews, nor is their protest against Israel any more valid than a non-Jew’s. But “If I am not for myself”, then the Zionists will claim to be for me, will usurp my voice and my Jewishness. Since each Israeli atrocity is justified by the exigencies of Jewish survival, each calls forth a particular witness from anti-Zionist Jews, whose very existence contradicts the Zionist claim to speak for all Jews everywhere.

So ends Mike Marqusee’s article The first time I was called a self-hating Jew which appeared in the London Guardian on Tuesday March 04 2008. It is an edited extract from his book, If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew.

For background, Marqusee speaks about America in the 1960s, when his parents were civil rights activists who encouraged their children to speak their own minds. In this extract from his book, he recalls his father’s fury.

The first person to call me a self-hating Jew was my father. It was in the autumn of 1967. Dad was 39, a successful businessman who was also, along with my mother, active in the US civil rights and anti-war movements. I was the oldest of his five children and had already, at age 14, intoxicated by the ideals of justice and equality, begun my career as a footsoldier of the left. It was not only the first time I had been called a self-hating Jew, it was the first time the phrase, the idea, entered my consciousness, and it was a shock.

As a young man, against the family grain, my father had taken an interest in social and especially racial justice and at college was drawn to the Communist party, which is how he met my mother, who was the product of a very different strand of the New York Jewish tapestry. This was in the heyday of anti-communist hysteria, of which my parents were first victims, then accomplices. After giving a speech against the Korean war at a student conference in Prague in 1950, dad was denounced as a traitor. His passport was seized. His father told the press that if his son had said such things, he was no son of his. It was in this period, I think, that he came to rely implicitly on my mother, the girlfriend who stood by his side when his life seemed most precarious.

(snip, sorry)

Click on the above link (title) to read the entire article.

To me, what is interesting about Marqusee’s piece is his father view: a left wing socialist and civil/human rights activist, who transformed into a right wing Zionist whenever Israel came up. Is it ignorance, a product of Israeli propaganda, or exceptionalism, possibly motivated by Jewish history, the recent Holocaust, in particular? So why are so many left wing liberals today, like Marqusee’s father, also right wing Zionists on the issue of Israel, when information about the reality is available? The cognitive dissonance must certainly be vexing. Yet the choice here would seem to be obvious: the civil/human rights agenda that broke the back of racism and anti-Semitism in America or ethnocentricism, the my-people-right-or-wrong perspective.

In the introductory photo, Steven Feuerstein stands with members of the Chicago Palestinian community protesting the speaking engagement of Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2000, at the 13th Annual Dinner of the Chicago Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. It must take some guts to stand out there alone just on one’s values.

Thanks to Lawrence of Cyberia for this interesting piece.

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