a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

All You Need is Love

Posted on: December 18, 2012

Last year on September 10th Christian extremist, Terry Jones, showed up in Time Square wearing a shirt that read, “Everything I need to learn about Islam I learned on 9/11”. In a video just released by the New York Times yesterday passersby drowned out Jones’ hateful rhetoric by singing the Beatles Hit, “All You Need is Love.” Watching videos of people like Jones and Phelps makes me grateful that not all Christians are crazy, fear/hate-mongering fools like these two.

It’s folks like these that makes Ghandi’s quote about Christ more real. Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Even after being rejected from a church because of his race Ghandi had an appreciation for the teaching of Jesus and was able to separate “true teachings” from interpretation.

Last night I got into a Twitter conversation, which is never a good conversation because really how much can you say under 160 characters, about Zionism and Judaism that got under my skin. I was participating in a Twitter counter protest about Pamela Geller and her new hateful, Islamophobic subway ads that have once again, unfortunately, turned up in NYC subways. I tweeted something like “Hate is not a Jewish Value, Hate is not a Muslim Value, Hate is not a Christian Value” and received two interesting tweets back.

1-From a popular Jewish blogger said, “in almost all cases. Its not. Incl this. But hate has its place in Judaism…” To which I replied, “Not according to Hillel” of course referencing Hillel’s famous retort of learning Torah on one foot.

Is hate a Jewish value? I think not. But, if you read the Torah there are some not so amazing parts. The book of Maccabees, for instance, is a very uncomfortable book to read and you could argue that Matityahu Maccabbee hated the Syrian Greeks, not to mention the Jews who’d assimilated to be more like the Syrian Greeks. You could say that Gd hated the freed Israelites who worshiped the golden calf in the dessert and if I were a better Torah scholar I’m sure there are many other biblical accounts in which hate is a prevalent theme. Unlike Jesus’ turn the other cheek, the Jews who were persecuted fought back…

…which brings me to the other comment I got and the larger issue of Israel/Palestine. “It is a Zionist value,” was the response to my Tweet.  To which I replied, “Well, Judaism doesn’t equal Zionism” and “And not all Zionists are hatemongers…” there was a lot of back and forth and it ended in me asking him to read my blog.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always stayed right in the middle on Israel/Palestine.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to round up everyone in a group and shove them under one umbrella. I sure as hell wasn’t a “Terry Jones Christian” just as most Muslims aren’t “Osama Bin Laden Muslims” and most Jews aren’t “Pamela Geller Jews”.

I think it’s also important to compartmentalize Jewish and Zionist and Israeli because not all Jews are Zionists, not all Zionists are Jewish and not all Israelis are Jewish or Zionist…we can go on and on flip flopping the labels around like a puzzle and never get the same combination.

The only thing I am is Jewish-not a Zionist (in the ugly sense of the word)* and not an Israeli.

All that said, I read something by Bill Maher of all people that I found to be incredibly thought-provoking. He  said, “What I find so ironic is that after World War II, everybody said, ‘I don’t understand the Jews. How could they have just gone to their slaughter like that?’ OK, and then when they fight back: ‘I don’t understand the Jews. Why can’t they just go to their slaughter?’ It’s like, ‘You know what? We did that once. It’s not gonna happen again. You’re just gonna have to get used to the fact that Jews now defend themselves — and by the way, defend themselves better. I mean, this is a country, after all, that is surrounded by far greater numbers than their own [and] they are like two generations ahead in the military technology they have.”

Now, I’m not saying that I agree with everything out of Bill Maher’s mouth, but it’s a valid point, something to be turned over in my head. The facts are that war sucks. Land ownership is bizarre and when the ownership of land is based on three Holy books it gets even more…tumultuous.

I’ve written many times about my conflicting feelings on Israel/Palestine and from where I stand in order to be true to my Judaism, true to who I am as a human being and true to humanity I have to be level-headed and lead from a place of love and understanding rather than leading from a place of hate and skepticism.

Which is why I ride out the middle. Perhaps this makes me a coward, but from the middle I can see both sides of the coin.


So what do you think? Is hate a Jewish value? Leave respectful comments below.

2 Responses to "All You Need is Love"

Is it or should it be? Those are two different questions. I can’t deny that hate has been a part of Judaism and it’s still a part of Judaism for some people. However, that doesn’t make it right.

But yes, there are times when “hate” is appropriate. Hating war for example, hating gross consumerism, hating pollution, etc. Hate directed towards people is generally not necessary. I would call myself a Zionist. I don’t hate the other side. I don’t hate Jews who are not Zionists. That would be silly and pointless. It would not make me a better person. It would not make me a more compassionate or understanding person.

I do admit that I struggle with a feeling for some people that I think gets very close to the line of hatred. These are usually those whose politics I have gotten to know over the years and they are calling for outrages and outlandish behavior on the part of law makers in the name of their fundamentalist christian religion. But see then you have me wondering, what is hate exactly? We could wax philosophical about that topic for years. Different philosophers had different definitions with some saying hate cannot be defined at all. Hate itself is complicated. Can we determine whether or not it has a place in Judaism before we’ve decided what IS hate in the first place? My first instinct is to say “it’s wrong!!” but what am I saying is wrong, exactly?

Right? And I think I was so annoyed/ruffled by the comment because in my mind hate isn’t a Jewish value…but if this person equates Judaism with the extreme sorts of Zionism he experiences as a Palestinian then I can see how he would put the two together. Yet, from where I stand as an American Jew who considers herself a Zionist in that I believe that Israel should exist and not in the extreme-anti Muslim way…it rubs the wrong way.

I think hate, like love is hard to define. Which is why I think Hillel’s “that which is hateful to you…” is more complex and harder to do than Jesus’ “love one another…”…

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