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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Generalizations of Israel betray writer’s inexperience

Editor,

I am a UNM undergrad writing in response to Don Schrader’s letter in Tuesday’s Daily Lobo. While we all, Schrader included, are entitled to our own opinions, no one is entitled to his or her own facts.

As a medic in an armor unit of the Israeli army, I served in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and along the Gaza border. As such, I can unequivocally avow that the scenario Schrader depicts — of daily and even hourly snuff-film style atrocities being perpetrated en masse by Jews against Arabs — is regurgitation of febrile black propaganda. Since Schrader doubtlessly believes what he repeats, I won’t impugn his integrity, though he is certainly guilty of rather shrill hyperbole.

That the extra-legal, martial subjugation of one ethnic group by another entails heavy-handedness and abuse, and even periodic, often mortal injury to innocents is undeniable. The state of Israel has many noble accomplishments to its credit, as well as many black deeds. Likewise, various Arab political actors have noble aspirations and achievements to their credit, as well as inhuman crimes.

But cultural attributes, when involved in good or evil actions, are mere aesthetic flourishes.

The fact that we can speak of “good” or “bad” Jews, Arabs, Catholics, WASPs, Germans, Serbs, Koreans, etc. is testimony to the universality of certain behaviors, not a racial or cultural explanation for them.

Therefore I stringently object to Schrader’s parroting of the term that is so en vogue in recent Israel-Palestine discourse: “Jews of conscience.” It sets up a false dichotomy of “good” Jews and “bad” ones and particularizes the essentially universal behavior that is being objected to. It is a thoroughly racist construction that arises, ironically, from the sanctimonious bosom of the supposedly humanist left-wing, and should be discarded.

My support or opposition to any given Israeli policy doesn’t make me any less “conscientious” than Schrader or anyone else, Jew or Gentile. But if it evinces misguidedness or even callousness, then my ethnicity need not enter into the discourse in a way that’s intended to compel me to justify myself in terms of that ethnicity.

As far as I, a supporter of Israel, am concerned, all are welcome to speak out in favor of one state, two states or none between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean. I begrudge no one their perspective. But lets stick to facts, and lets dispense with racist innuendo, however well-intended.

Aaron Cress
UNM student