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The Split: Differences over Israel tear apart a Jewish marriage

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Even things that seem harmless to us like missionaries, pop music and movies become a form of cultural terrorism in a traditional society. The garbage that Hollywood is pouring into those countries is debasing their culture, just like it has ours. We're used to it, but they don't want to get used to it.

When Muslims fight back against us, we label them terrorists. But terrorism means intentionally killing innocent civilians, and the financial manipulators and Pentagon officers aren't innocent.

But no one deserves to be killed, innocent or not. Bombing anybody is barbaric and abhorrent. The USA and Israel are dropping bombs all the time, though, and the civilians they kill are just collateral damage to them. If we do it, we have to expect that people will do it to us. Violence creates counter-violence.

From the Arab point of view, the Israelis are invaders, millions of Europeans who are pushing them off their land. It's like what happened in America. Millions of Europeans poured in and pushed out the people who were living here. The natives defended themselves by attacking white wagon trains and settlements, killing everyone they could -- men, women and children. The whites called them terrorists, savages.

Now the Arabs are fighting back. But like the Indians, their weapons aren't nearly as powerful as the Europeans'. What was it Mike Davis said? "The car bomb is the poor man's air force." The rich have Stealth bombers, the poor have Toyota Corollas, both filled with explosives. The bombers are a lot bigger and kill many more people.

One of the reasons the Western powers supported the formation of Israel was that they thought the Arabs were passive, they wouldn't defend themselves. But they've surprised us. They may win.

Stan: William, as a Gentile, you can't imagine how offensive it is to me to hear drivel like this, especially from a fellow Jew ... and one I'm married to.

William: You're right, I probably can't.

Hannah: I'm not singling out the Jews with this. They're no worse than any other European group. Western civilization has produced more violence than any other. Our history is a chronicle of atrocities. From the Romans on, it's been ghastly. We make Genghis Khan look like a pacifist. That's why I think our day is passing -- we've harmed too many other peoples, and now we deserve to go under.

But what breaks my heart is that before this the Jews hadn't been cruel and militaristic. We were peaceful. But we've became just as vicious as the goyim. What a loss! Now it's obvious that the diaspora was a blessing. We were freed of the disease of nationalism. Now we're dying of it.

I admit that after what they'd been through, it was understandable that the Zionists would feel they needed their own country and it should be around Jerusalem. They grew up reading in the Torah that God personally gave them that land. They're convinced it's theirs forever. And every Passover they vow, 'Next year in Jerusalem.' They're fixated on this area, even though it hasn't been theirs for two thousand years.

But the fact that it's understandable doesn't make it right. It doesn't justify what they've done to the Arabs to get the land. Their own suffering has blinded them to the suffering they're causing others. That's what makes it so tragic.

There are hundreds of ethnic groups in the world that don't have their own country. But if we needed our own, the land should have been taken from the Germans. That would've been fair. The Arabs didn't have anything to do with the Holocaust or with the expulsion by the Romans.

For the Zionists, Israel was a wonderful dream -- a place where Jews could be safe and our culture could flourish. But it's a terrible reality -- war and the oppression of another people.

William: Do you see any way out?

Hannah: Well, I do. But this could be just wishful thinking, trying to see a glimmer of good in all this grief. It seems to me that this horrible insoluble dilemma is generating a crux of pressure, a desperate energy that may be able to spring humanity into its next stage.

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William T. Hathaway's first book, A World of Hurt, won a Rinehart Foundation Award. His new novel, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, concerns the environmental crisis: He was a Fulbright professor (more...)

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There's nothing writ in stone that absolute compat... by landtorpedo on Sunday, Nov 20, 2011 at 5:59:47 PM
If only the Israelis had 'behaved'. Good behavior ... by syed mahdi on Monday, Nov 21, 2011 at 3:56:35 AM
Stan's part of the discussion read like a bad scri... by Paul Hershfield on Monday, Nov 21, 2011 at 6:25:55 AM
Not that it does not have any good meaning but.. ... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Nov 21, 2011 at 8:53:04 AM
I am a Hannahite. But if we don't learn to respect... by Peter Duveen on Monday, Nov 21, 2011 at 9:18:01 PM