Monday, April 15, 2002

The Martin Luther King, Jr. quote from Saturday was posted to a listserv that I'm on. Below is a response it elicited, and my response to that:

> Hello,
> Jewish is not an ethnicity. Zionism does not call for Jews to return to their
> land, it calls for those who follow Judaism, regardless of their original
> land, to occupy the land once known as Palestine.
> There are Russian Israelis, African Israelis, and Israelis of many other
> ethnicities.
> Just as Jewish property was taken by Nazis during WWII, Palestinian property
> is being taken by Israelis.
> Anti-Zionism does not equate with anti-Semitism.
> When we kept Iraq from taking over Kuwait permanently, it never meant that
> Americans hated Iraquis.
> Please leave religion out of the argument; the problem is the policy on
> Zionism that the Israeli government is pursuing.
> The civil rights movement of the new millenium is occuring in Palestine.
> We can only hope for a Palestinian version of Dr. King.

... and my response that:

"Jewish is not an ethnicity." Perhaps you are technically correct. The ethnicity would be "Semitic" and serves as an important reminder that "ethnically" the Israelis, the Palestinians, and I are all brothers. Your point, however, is completely off-base.

Throughout history, Judaism has been considered a civilization unto itself from both within, and by our enemies. Whether you're reading "Judaism as a Civilization" Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan or "Mien Kampf" by Adolph Hitler, pretty much everyone agrees that Judaism is not "just a religion" but represents a specific people with historic roots in Israel/Palestine/Canaan - kind of like an ethnicity.

I (or many other members of this list) could list dozens of facts to refute many of your points, but let me just state one. Jerusalem is home to significant sites of three religions. In the last several hundred years, under Arab, British, and Israeli rule, it is only under Israeli rule that all three religions have had access to their shrines. I'm sorry, but anybody who asks to "leave religion out of [it]" has a lot to learn about the situation.

To return to the point of the original post of Dr. King's letter, to deny the right of the Jewish people to return to their historic homeland is anti-Semitism. Period.

You call for a new MLK Jr., and I second that wish. Both sides have had peace stolen from them by extremists. The Palestinians by extremists within their ranks - The Israelis by extremists within their government. They could each learn a lot from Dr. King right about now.

Finally, you say that, "The civil rights movement of the new millennium is occurring in Palestine." That's odd, I don't recall Dr. King instructing people to strap bombs to their bodies and walk into crowded cafes? The Intifada is no "civil rights movement," it's an armed insurrection. Support it, or don't support it - that's up to you - but call it what it is.


- Ken

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