The Jewish Condition

June 7, 2015

4 min read

Ira Sharkansky

Thursday morning news headlined a comment by the General Director of the French telecom giant Orange that he preferred to cancel the agreement with the Israeli affiliate, due to its violation of international law.

He went on to say that he could not do as he wished, due to established contracts.

His dribble reminded me of years past, when I was finishing high school with good grades, and learning of my limitations. The news came from teachers as well as relatives and friends.

The. better colleges took only so many Jews.

Even if I were accepted at one of them and did well, there were companies who would not hire me, prestigious neighborhoods and whole towns where I could not live.

Things began to change, but the comment from the head of Orange suggests that they may be changing back.

Viewed objectively, we’ve done well. We may be crying on the way to the bank, the concert hall, and other good places.

My own suffering has been minimal.

I have to think hard to conjure up comments that were less than insults, but nonetheless bothered me.

One of my former teachers, who became a colleague and friend, said that Jews must learn the limits of others’ tolerance.

Another described as “too ethnic” a Jewish faculty colleague who went beyond good taste in his opposition to Vietnam.

Currently I feel as much pity as anger or fear about the kids and others–including Jews–who join the Palestinian chorus. I wonder about families who pay $50,000 a year and more in tuition and fees so their children can learn to hate Jews.

Organizations that vote to censure Israel when it stands so far above the Palestinians or any Muslim country on every measure of humane policy imaginable make me wonder. As I’ve written several times, the health of Israeli Arabs is better than that of White Americans, due at least in part to decent medical care.

The well crafted comments of Barack Obama aren’t all that different from the screeds that bother us..

Every once in a while he indicates that Palestinians as well as Israelis are responsible for the lack of progress toward his dream of two states, but more often he says that Israel lacks an appropriate commitment.

His latest comment is that it is difficult to fight BDS while the peace process is frozen.

The Jew who is Obama’s ambassador to Israel concedes that the Palestinians were responsible for ending the most recent negotiations, but still asserts that it is difficult for the US Government to fight BDS while the peace process is frozen.

The focus on the 1967 borders and settlements skip over a host of issues that we’d like to adjudicate, but there is no international court that we trust.

We’re being slogans that have little or no practical meaning, but hurt nonetheless. Threats to treat us like South Africa indicate that we’ll be dealing with this for a.long time.

This is not the 1940s. Vast numbers of Israelis are not miserable refugees from the Holocaust or Arab persecution. The Jews of North America and Europe have come just as far.

Israel has shown that it can defend itself. Our economy performs better than most among western democracies. Palestinians aspire to work in Israel and the industries Israelis have established in the West Bank. Threats of sanction have led some to close, with the result of Palestinians suffering more from lost jobs than Israeli investors suffer from lost opportunities.

Israeli government authorities and French Jewish organizations pressed the French government to implement French laws against incitement and boycotts in the case of the telecoms official.

One of the more excitable ministers in Netanyahu’s new government threatened a world boycott by Jews against Orange telecoms and its affiliates.

That ain’t likely to happen, but a government official talking that way may quiet others who think like the telecoms manager.

Within 24 hours of his comment, the French executive was issuing explanations that included an apology, a claim of being misunderstood, comments against a boycott, statements that he admired Israel, planned to visit, and had Jewish friends.

Israel deserves credit for several decent offers to the Palestinians, and numerous accommodations to the West Bank and Gaza.

Currently we’re waiting for some sanity among the Palestinians. Their leadership’s refusal to the symbolic banality that Israel is a “Jewish state” scuttled the last peace talks. Currently their various factions are engaged in warfare among themselves. Squabbles between Fatah and Hamas get in the way of construction supplies reaching Gaza. Groups angry at Hamas for not being radical enough fire rockets at Israel. One group has fired rockets at Israel because Hamas killed one of its operatives.

Either by design or incompetence, those rockets have done nothing but turn up the turf in empty fields.

In response, Israel threatens major action, but is careful to to bomb facilities when there is not likely to be anyone working in them.

It’s a game that outsiders wanting neat deals, firm action, closure or solution do not understand.

Those who have no trouble condemning Israel may not expect anything from uncivilized Arabs.

Or perhaps they simply can’t stand Jews.

It gets ugly for overseas Jews when they sense anti-Semitism, and even uglier when some of the craziest decide to act against Jews wherever they are, Israelis or something else.

Organizations that are quiet about the barbarism of ISIS while they declare a boycott on Israel qualify as political barbarians.

What can be done?

Not much.

Israeli officials and ordinary Jews have been explaining things for years.

There is no magic bullet that works against the minds of Know Nothings (a label for hateful simpletons that comes out of American history).

Some of my notes bring compliments for their moderation.

The same notes provoke screeds from the hateful.

There is a long history of people, including some Jews, inclined to see evil, or not enough good, coming out of what Jews do.

It may have something to do with the Hebrew Bible, the Chosen People and the moral aspirations of the prophets. Jewish rebels added to the problems with their New Testament.

We should keep doing what we’ve been doing.

Being as decent as possible to individuals, including those who seem inclined to do us harm
Trying hard not to make things worse.
Avoiding foolishness not likely to help, such as agreeing to move large numbers of Jews from where they have moved since 1967.
Insisting on beginning negotiations from where we are, rather than where we were 50 years ago.
Asserting that Palestinian aggression has had as much to do with where we are as anything else.
All of the above says something about the Jewish condition.

There is still a bank on the road we are travelling, as well as a concert hall, good universities, and attractive landscape. Life is good. It would be better if free of the garbage heard from the head of the French telecoms company, various student groups, and others.

For Jews, however, that would be asking too much.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Shark Blog

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