Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
After an incident at the Chicago Dyke March in which pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis ruffled each other's feathers, I weighed in by Jewsplaining, or perhaps "circumsplaining," to the benighted lesbians on both sides of the controversy. Though I tried to be evenhanded in my criticism of the pathetic display of juvenile behavior, I definitely went at non-Jews more aggressively. Non-Jews on the left seem complacent about their ill- repressed anti-Semitism, even willfully ignorant of it, so I felt it would require a lot more work to get it through their thick skulls exactly how hypocritical they are. I was right. I don't know if it's a thing with doctrinaire lesbians, or doctrinaire lefties in general, but they do appear to be more intransigently stupid than, say, your average first-grader.
Possessing, as I do, a penis, albeit a reasonably queer penis, I'm an outsider in this case. I don't apologize for having a penis, which is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Not mine, but the archetypal organ in general. As a penis-appended outsider, I should, according to some, abstain from commenting on this dyke-versus-kike buffoonery. And I considered that. I often abstain from commenting on the stupidity of women and people of color. It's much more fun to criticize white people, especially white men, and they do offer so much material. When women and people of color provide material for mockery, it's often even more satisfying not to comment. What could be more patronizing than deeming someone too oppressed and delicate to make fun of?
I didn't want to engage in that type of condescension this time. First, it would've been too easy. Second, the offenses to civil discourse were too blatant. And, third, the potential for snark was too tempting.
For example, as pointed out by my friend, the great shamanistic poet and mystic Rachel Kann, some of the march organizers, or "survivors of the trauma," have set up an online crowd-funding page to send themselves and their allies against Zionism on a retreat to recover from the argument. So pitiful is their plaint that even some of those who support the other side have given money. I'll quote two of them. Anonymous says, "You should be ashamed of the way you treated your fellow (Jewish) dykes!" Anonymous gave an undisclosed amount. Perhaps it was too insulting to disclose, in which case it can only add to the severity of the emotional scars from which these poor frail damsels are suffering. A Polly Rosenbloom Weisberger, also hiding the amount of her gift, comments: "Here's a contribution for all the trolling I've done." Now that's thoughtful. I'm trolling, and I'm not going to give a god damn cent.
I am no stranger to the vitriol rabid, racist Zionists can inflict over the interwebs. They can be horrid people. I know it takes more strength than many in the touchy-feely realm of resentment politics can muster. I suppose it's admirable of the anti-Zionist dykes to admit their lack of fortitude and spine. Some people's weaknesses are such that their resilience takes a bit longer to show itself. I'm often one of those people. I get it.
I don't, however, believe I've had to go on a self-massaging retreat to recover from having a handful of people alter a chant or wave a flag. I certainly have never tried to tax my constituency to give myself such a palliative vacation. Perhaps that's what strength means in this brave new world. Perhaps altering chants and waving rainbow Israeli flags are crimes on the order of violence, rape, and molestation.
But if your chant could be drowned out by so few people, maybe your point of view isn't as popular as you think? Were these Jews operatic singers? Were they really that disruptive? In a parade of hundreds? Is that it? Pushy Jews? Over-representing once again, just as they do in the arts and academics?
Anti-Zionists in general, and these particular ones since the march, have stated that they can separate their internalization of centuries of European anti-Semitism from their moral stance on the Israeli Occupation. One proof of it they tout is that they have many Jewish allies. Some of their best friends are Jewish. It's how many friends you have of a particular race or ethnicity that proves whether or not you're racist against them, right?
In an article in Mondoweiss, in support of the march organizers, Palestinian activist Nada Elia characterizes Zionism as sneaking itself into social justice spaces, "in all its colorful disguises." Yikes, dykes! Kikes! They're everywhere! And in colorful disguises, all the better to seduce you with.
This is language poorly digested and regurgitated from the European mythology of the conniving Jew. This is the language of internalized anti-Semitism. Elia's language is obviously informed by the same European Jew-hatred indulged in by Heinrich Himmler, Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford. If that isn't worth Elia's time to examine, because she represents the oppressed and therefore is allowed to be as horrid a person as she feels like being, I don't see the solidarity, nor the strength.
Because, as Elia notes, we don't ask the oppressed to explain or examine themselves. We don't ask them what we would ask a full human being, an equal, in other words. How patronizing. And yet I have often seen oppressed people explain and examine themselves quite beautifully and powerfully. I have seen victims of oppression rise above the pettiness of those who claim to speak for them. And I've seen those who claim to speak for them feel shame in the face of their courage, and examine themselves, and learn. That's strength and solidarity.
Compared to such grace, the Dyke March seems, at least for some, to be a kind of nursery school for learning to behave in a truly pluralistic future. So it's natural they're going to make childish mistakes and dig their heels in to keep their childish convictions. Asking a Manichean leftist to consider that Zionism might not always be racism, or that it derives from a complex of sources only one of which is European imperialism – that's like asking a child to examine whether Santa Claus is real or not. There will be crying. There will be retreating and self-salving. There will be ice cream, or agave-sweetened sorbet for the vegans.
It's unfair to single out women of any sexual orientation, or course. Nothing comes easier to all people in the West, except maybe to dehumanize a darker person or a woman, than to demonize a Jew. Even Jews do it. After literally centuries of indoctrination in the orientalism articulated by Said, codified in the language of Shakespeare and Dickens, and the religious and legalistic liturgies of Europe, tropes about pushiness, colorful disguises, and sinister ubiquity flow freely off the tongue, the tongues of those who refuse to examine their own bigotry more easily than most.
To exacerbate matters, Jews tap into leftist Manichean anger because of how they screw up the simplistic diagram of revolt. Since the advent of the Zionist migration into Palestine, the Jew is both oppressor and oppressed in the same body. Rather than confront that complexity, the childish self-styled revolutionary throws tantrums. The simplistic Zionist does the same thing. Rather than give full life to the oppressive Occupier in themselves, and do the difficult job of navigating the confrontational terrain rippled with interference patterns from the colliding signals of oppressor and oppressed within the single moral self, they opt to demand consideration only as victims. For Zionists and anti- Zionists alike the true complexity must remain hidden, suppressed, erased, resulting in the infantilization of themselves and everyone around them.
Think what it could profit moral discourse, let alone the prospects for peace and justice, if that complexity were part of the discussion instead of denied. Maybe it's the fate of the Jewish body to be the battleground from which complex yet revolutionary morality will emerge either victorious or fatally defeated. There are Palestinians, Israelis, Europeans, Africans – people of every description willing to wrestle with moral complexity like mature human beings. When you're ready, please join us.
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!