Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wishing I Could March for the All-Purpose Revolution...

Back in 2002, I wrote an essay, which read in part...

"I am jealous of people who are able to immerse themselves in left-wing politics without fear. I was raised in San Francisco, and I have wanted to be, as Rebecca Walker describes herself in Black, White and Jewish, ‘a full-fledged progressive, politicized Bay Area person’. I envy the security, the pride and the moral assurance of that description. But I can’t really have it. That much is clear.

"So this article is my letter of resignation. My politics haven't really changed; I'm still a bleeding-heart tree-hugger social-services junkie and a nonpacifist who, in the words of Alan Lupo, 'keeps praying for multiple choice'. I believe that there is too damn much oppression in this world, and that, as a woman spared nearly all of it, as a citizen of a country that's both fought against and financed it, and as a Jew, I have to live my life in opposition to it.

"But this year has forced me to take a close, hard look at what passes for activism and progressive politics in my generation, and I am unimpressed. I have realized that I'm tired of pretending that the anti-Zionist rhetoric that permeates things you wouldn't believe it could be linked to can be excused or overlooked. I'm tired of watching other people bring their history and their community's problems to the coalition table and be honored for it, while I am expected to distort, dilute and denounce mine."

I wish I could say I've hardened up since then. I don't know. I am still jealous of the all-purpose revolution, and the ability to go to a peace march without realizing that peace for you is not on the list.

A lot of my friends don't understand why I don't think I'm invited to the party, and some others can't imagine why I would want to go in the first place. Not sure I can answer the second one. I went to college in the early 1990s. It was the heyday of pretentious watered-down identity politics. I learned the language of opression and cultural resistance, and was then told that mine, brought from the Soviet Jewry movement and my Zionist-ish childhood didn't count. I have been fascinated by, and furious over, concepts of race, opression, privilege, and identity ever since.

I'm angry. I'm angry at the anti-Semites. I'm angry at those smug, shrieky girls climbing the stage at the rally. I'm angry at www.indybay.org. I'm angry at Jews who can march with ANSWER and feel good about themselves. I'm angry at people who can show up to a rally with a "Destroy Islam" sign and feel good about themselves. I'm mad at Ana Castillo, and Gloria Anzaldua, and Luisa Teish, and Cherrie Moraga and Alice Walker, and Dorothy Allison, and God, I can't even begin to get through this list, because I read their damn books, and was taught to define their oppression, and not mine. I'm mad at people who think the Republican party is a rational refuge for Jews. I'm mad at Mel Gibson. I'm mad because American Jews MADE American progressive politics, and they haven't stopped biting our collective tuchis since them. And I'm really, really jealous of anyone out there who's been told that their nightmares are valid, and not an attempt to use the Holocaust to manipulate public opinion.

I'm tired. And I want to hit back. And I want to find the person who titled a picture of our rally on IndyBay "So much hate", and express just how much hate I got going on, for everyone in the world who wishes that me and mine would just lie down and die.

I am an upset Irish Litvak. Do not rile me.

4 comments:

The back of the hill said...

Errrm, I hope your spider-web of anger doesn't include me.

My signs, apparently, were out of bounds. I am, with extreme resistance and distaste, coming to terms with the idea that I cannot cast the on-yer-face venom back at the other side.

Must project "mellow", must project "mellow", breathe deep....

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

No, it doesn't include you...unless you've got a 'destroy Islam' sign I haven't seen yet...and frankly, I got a whole lot of venom to let out myself...;)

The back of the hill said...

Nope, no 'destroy Islam signs'.

Given that I like listening to the Sabri Brothers singing ecstatic Sufi music, and find some of the Islamic writings on jurisprudence fascinating, it would be more than a bit difficult to be so blunt.

I'd more than likely have a sign saying something like "Please rectify some of the misconceptions you have of elements of your own religion and divest yourself of the simplistic Wahabi interpretations of Shariah - according to many authoritative Fatawa dating from the mid-Ottoman period all the way through to the present, representing all four major Sunni madhahib (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafiyi, wa Hanbali), as well as the Shia Jafari madhab AND the Zaini madhab from al-Yaman, the forms of jurisprudence and Islamic practice espoused by the Muwahidun are not only heretical but also a great danger..."


Did I mention that our slogans can often be hard to chant?

Tia said...

"I'm angry. I'm angry at the anti-Semites. I'm angry at those smug, shrieky girls climbing the stage at the rally. I'm angry at www.indybay.org."

I just found your blog, so this will feel like yesterday's news, but I think I'll respond anyway.

"I'm angry at Jews who can march with ANSWER and feel good about themselves."

I am angry at the Jews that can stand next to people chanting "Kill the Jews" and not flinch. I am angry at Jews that can stand next to people chanting "The Jews are our dogs" and not flinch.

http://www.youtube. com/profile_ videos?user= Kehilah

I am angry at Jews who could protest a Jewish cultural event (Israel in the gardens) but would never dream of protesting an an Arab one. I am angry that for years the attitude of the established Jewish community was to "ignore " the jihadis and hope taht they'd go away. I am angry about what is done in the name of peace and in the name of G-d.

"I'm angry at people who can show up to a rally with a "Destroy Islam" sign and feel good about themselves."

And I'm angry that after explaining why that was an inappropriate sign, and how it would be used by our opponents to condemn our entire message, the individual in question refused to put it down. I am angry because we have truth and history on our side, and yet people feel the need to resort to childishness and bigotry. And now I'm angry that I've spent two weeks with my group discusssing how to handle people like him in the future.
I'm angry too, but its tempered with a lot of other emotions. You see, I'm one of the SFV4I organizers who put on the counter-protest. We've been doing it for years. We've been doing it since there were a dozen of us and 10,000 glaring ANSWER folk. So when I looked at the sea of blue and white, and the beautiful diversity of the folk that gathered to support us, I felt proud. I felt the sense of solidarity that living through a crisis brings. When I saw how few people were on the other side I felt relieved. And when ANSWER announced that their rally cost 22K to produce, and could people please contribute generously, I felt positively giddy!

(And BTW -I thought ATBH's signs were just fine)

"I'm tired. And I want to hit back. And I want to find the person who titled a picture of our rally on IndyBay "So much hate", and express just how much hate I got going on, for everyone in the world who wishes that me and mine would just lie down and die."

I understand. I'm the one who has been responding to him/her, only to get deleted by the damned Indybay editors!

There were only 50 pro-Israel supporters at the first protest at the Israeli consulate. A tourist walked over and picked up one of the flags I brought. She asked me "Aren't there any Jews in San Francisco?" I shrugged- I'd been asking myself the same thing. So lets focus on the positive(its a survival mechanism)Hundreds and hundreds of us showed up. It was a good thing- something we can all be proud of. It was a little bit of the real world, played out on the streets of San Francisco. A stalwart group of Jews, forced into a small space, surrounded and outnumbered by hostile neighbors.

We did good. I really believe that. And thank you for being there.

Shalom, chavera.