Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Ugly trouble in the Holy Land

I’ve started getting email invites to the Limmud Conference 2011. Last year I was “the alternative voice” and I presented a talk (to which 10 people came). I have not been invited to participate this year and it comes as no surprise. The bald reality is that my kind of thinking, while occasionally seen as necessary in order to prove the existence of the lunatic fringe, is not welcome or encouraged. And I cannot tell you how depressed this makes me.

I am not in a good way about South African Jewry at the moment. Two debates have made me shudder with revulsion, one of them being the hooha about UJ severing ties with Ben Gurion University. The response by South African Jews has been beyond any rational thought.

I am forced to acknowledge that while I believe in human rights, most Jews who support the Israeli government do not. I am forced to realise that the huge majority (probably 90%) of South African Jews have paranoid, anti-Muslim feeling. I am forced to understand that it is an absolute reality that most South African Jews are conservative, Apartheid-style apologists. And lastly, I am confronted with the horrifying reality that there are many of them and terribly few like me.

I think what gets me the most is the assumption by other South African Jews that I should share their opinions, narrow minded bigotry and self righteous excuses. What gets me is that there is the assumption that Jews should stick together and support the Israeli government (no different from the ideology that instructed all whites to support the Nats under Apartheid).

The saddest thing is, in contrast, that there are many, many Israelis, in Israel and abroad, who absolutely do not support the current government and its racist policies; who are vocal and active in their dissent, powerful in their arguments and dedicated to doing right. But here on the Southern tip of Africa, that pro-government, Zionistic, paranoid, aggressive, militant, anti Palestine/Arab/Muslim mentality is the most common and pervasive. And it freaks me out.

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1 Comment

  1. A depressing thing, indeed. Sadly, you’re spot on that your thinking – or in fact any alternative thinking – is not welcomed or encouraged. The net result is that those who don’t identify with the paranoia and myopia gradually distance themselves (or are distanced) from the very unaccommodating, disinterested tribe, and stop engaging and stop caring.
    At the Jewish day school I attended, we were taught about the encroaching dangers of “assimilation”, which was code for Jews getting secularised and gradually departing from their Jewish practices. The explicit message was: don’t be part of the wave of assimilation. Don’t marry out the faith, don’t question the faith, don’t depart from the ideological standpoints that have been set out for you. The flip side, though, was that if you did question, you were a goner – to the dark side of the assimilated with you.

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