Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why's Everybody Always Pickin' On Me?

"Fee-Fee Fi-Fi Fo-Fo Fum ... Why's everybody always pickin' on me?"

That's what a lot of Israeli's, and supporters of Israel, ask every day. And its not an unfair question. There are worse countries and worse crimes in the world than those perpetrated by Israel.

A recent article in the Guardian provides an answer I think. It may not be the whole answer, but it is an original insight and explains a lot. It is written from a British perspective, but applies equally to Canada and the U.S, I believe. Read the whole piece to get the full idea, but below are a few highlights.

... why do I, so far away and so much a product of my own country, take such an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict? Where does my disproportionate interest come from, considering that other conflicts around the world are equal or worse in their unpleasantness?

I devour articles about Israel-Palestine on Cif; I look at Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, al-Jazeera and other commentaries. When things heat up, it is close to an addiction. Why am I not so worked up about Zimbabwe? North Korea? Sudan? Tibet? Burma? ...

I have many Jewish friends, I went to school with boys from Jewish backgrounds and consequently I do not think of Jews as being foreign. It would be as absurd for me to call my Jewish friends foreign as it would to call my Quaker friends foreign; they are as English as I am. ...

The trouble is that Israel promotes itself as the state for all Jews, ... And because some of my friends are Jews and it is therefore their country, it is in some subliminal sense my country too. ... I do not think of Israel as truly foreign... It is foreign, of course, but not emotionally, not like Thailand orUzbekistan, and I do not respond to it as I do to most other foreign states. ...

Israel's non-foreign status is amplified by the extraordinary support it enjoys in the corridors of power in Britain. As many as 80% of Tory MPs are members of Conservative Friends of Israel. The same cannot be said for Conservative friends of Thailand or Uzbekistan.

... many of my rulers appear to be [Israel's] devoted citizens, ... All those shrill arguments over water or settlements, all that killing, all that fear and loathing, are not far away from me at all, no further away than Belfast.

So I judge this by domestic standards, not foreign ones. I do not expect Israelis to behave like Burmese generals; I expect them to behave like Englishmen, like my friends.

Supporters of Israel complain frequently and loudly that they are singled out for special attention and criticism. ... The number of news items about Israel-Palestine has created a self-reinforcing cycle – my appetite for yet more items is whetted by each new article or drama. All of which would appear to vindicate the complaints of the pro-Israel lobby – except that they should consider how they themselves contribute to this.

One reason why Israel is singled out for so much attention is because its supporters are so very vociferous, pushing their agenda at every opportunity. As a consumer of news, the speed of their responses and their sheer ubiquity inflames my interest and my antipathy. Why do they persist in trying to defend the indefensible?

Another reason for my disproportionate interest in this conflict is that
I feel I have been lied to, and I feel that people are still trying to lie to me
and I don't like it. ... I can remember a time back in the 1960s when I accepted a view of Israel as a plucky little state full of kibutzes busily taming the desert. ... Then I discovered the other narrative.

... if Israel had been described to me from the start as the product of remorseless expropriation of some else's land (not the full story, I know), I might well have lost interest by now. But having been told how heroic and wonderful it was and then to find out that... there is a different and more troubling story running in parallel, that affects me emotionally.

When I see Binyamin Netanyahu and his colleagues putting their side of some event, I do not see honest men and my emotions are the same as those I experience when I see ... con-men – distaste and disapproval. And yet they won't shut up. ...

He walks in the classroom cool and slow
Who called the English teacher Daddyo

Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown
He's a clown, that Charlie Brown
He's gonna get caught
Just you wait and see
Why's everybody always pickin' on me
... written by those nice Jewish boys, Leiber and Stohler. Released 1959, by The Coasters.


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