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April 19, 2010

Schon Genug Already

Roy Meachum

Richard Goldstone is a distinguished South African jurist, so distinguished he was asked by the United Nations to conduct an inquiry into what really happened when the Gaza Strip was invaded by Israel.


His 13-year-old grandson will be honored next month with a Bar Mitzvah; that’s translated strictly as “a son of the Commandment.” It’s Hebrew. Speaking a fundamental form of Yiddish, from my knowledge of German, I had to look up what it really means. But the boy looks forward to coming of age, as a man, in the Orthodox Judaism they both profess – without his grandfather.


It seems the jurist won over the Jew in Mr. Goldstone’s findings; he has been in hot water with his faith’s community ever since. His commission judged the Jewish state committed war crimes during the invasion of Gaza. American television showed it, which should be no surprise to readers. The acknowledgement of the actions against humanity is not up for debate.


The heat comes chiefly from his nation’s Zionists, naturally; they are dedicated to the ideal of a Jewish state and charge anyone who questions Israel is anti-Semitic. In Mr. Goldstone’s case, they declare him a “traitor” and some other non-niceties. They threaten to disrupt his grandson’s ceremony in a similar way people protest a burial in Arlington Cemetery of a soldier slain in Iraq or Afghanistan.


Feeling consistently – before the fall of Baghdad – that those wars are wrong, I find no fault with the boys and girls who fight George W. Bush’s wars. I served six years 11 months in the Army. The soldiers are not responsible for their presence in the Muslim countries, nor are the various tactics that keep them alive and functioning. They cannot be home soon enough for me. Barack Obama has no fan in me in his Middle Eastern policies.


In the South African story, I felt the heat directed at Richard Goldstone nearly 40 years ago; I reported how Israel invaded Lebanon and questioned why. In the pre-Hezbullah days, the people in that particular corner of the Middle East had no record of attacking the Jewish state; they certainly have now. Lebanon has yielded its borders to Muslim activists, supported by Syria and Iraq I’ve heard.


While I have a deep respect and love for Judaism, they have not stopped me from questioning the ethos and standards of the Jewish state’s officials. Their persecution of Arabs sticks in my craw – and in my writing. It seems, after the Holocaust, Zionists proclaim the only persecution of human beings happened under the aegis of Adolph Hitler. Knowing something of history, I don’t buy it.


In postwar Germany, I knew the survivors to Auschwitz, Belsen-Bergen, Dachau and other camps that were fertile recruiting places for the Israeli army. My knowledge and sympathy for those who survived did not crumble my logic: six million victims are not to be brushed off. Russia suffered almost four times as much. But who’s keeping score?


For over 60 years I have been condemned for my failure to agree automatically with a series of Israeli governments; this one is the worst, in human rights. Because he was raised in the United States – like Golda Meier – Benjamin Netanyahu speaks the speech and walks the walk; they make him no more respectful of international ukases.


The political rightist allies who brought Mr. Netanyahu to power are instilled with the old Crusader spirit; I know very well the objection: Crusaders were Christian. The prime minister’s Likud political party, combined with other rightist factions, believe the only way the Jewish state can survive in the Middle East is by fighting any and all comers. As we say in Yiddish, Oy gewalt.


They are deadly wrong.


The same people in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, who agitated behind closed doors for the invasion of Iraq, must question their policy of demolishing each and every coterie that possibly threatens them, like the Crusaders.  They brought us into Iraq on the strong belief Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that would destroy them. He did not.


Mr. Goldstone is equally faced with badly informed foes that threaten to strike at him through his 13-year-old grandson. What his U.N. commission found was what the commission found. No more nor less. That he should have whitewashed Israel army in Gaza would have been hooted out in the universe by anyone who owned a television set.


Enough already.


“Schon genug” is how we say it in Yiddish and German, slightly differently.


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