I was invited to preach at a very liberal church this morning, and as I entered the building an elderly gentleman walked up to me, glanced at my yarmulke, and asked, “What do you think of those Zionists?”
For a moment I thought he was asking about a sports team, the Nashville Zionists or something, and it took me a moment to realize he was asking me about Israel.
“I’m not sure what you mean,” I said.
“The Zionists. You know you can’t protest against Israel in Israel, you have to come to America to do that. The Zionists are causing all kinds of trouble.”
Obviously this man had his countries confused. Israelis argue about Israel and Zionism all the time. It is in America that challenging the party line of whatever coalition runs Israel at the moment gets one into trouble. I was going to say something like that, but as he elaborated on his point it was clear that he was anti-Israel on principle. Jews were fine with him as long as we were powerless underdogs, but as soon as we have the capacity to fight back against those who would slaughter us, and—even worse—win, we were the bad guys.
I am more liberal then most when it comes to Israel. I am one of the few Jews who found Jimmy Carter’s books on Israel valuable contributions to the debate around Israeli policies and the future of the Jewish State. But there is no sense arguing with people who think Zionism is the root of all the world’s ills. Especially when they are liberals.
Yes there are right-wing nuts who hope to see the end of all Jews, but they have the decency to live in states like Utah and Colorado, but liberal anti-Semites are every where. They take their anti-Semitism as a source of pride. Somehow it is a sign of just how liberal they are that they are willing to see Israel and Israelis bombed into oblivion. According to this man, African Americans, Amer-Indians, gays, lesbians and transgendered people all have a right to self-determination, but not Jews.
“We’d have peace in the world if it wasn’t for the Zionists. What do you think?”
I think, sir, that you are an asshole. But I didn't say that. Instead I said, “It seems to me you have four choices, so just let me know which one you prefer: 1) We should empower jihadists and neo-Nazis to slaughter every last Jew on the planet; 2) The US should supply Iran with nuclear weapons and encourage them to slaughter every Jew in Israel; 3) The US should forcibly remove all Zionists and imprison them in Gitmo; or 4) We should encourage the only true democracy in the Middle East to behave as such—a sort of do as we don’t kind of policy. Your pick.”
“Damn Zionists,” he said as he turned around and walked away.
"Damn liberals," I said, as I did the same.