Feb 02 2008

To an Israeli friend

 I like Barak more for what his election would say to the world and about us as Americans, than for his positions or his personality.  I think Arun Ghandi stated something similar.  I have seen Mrs. Bill Clinton (really, that’s her only credential, isn’t it?) operate for many years, and am unimpressed.  The victimized female act wears thin after a while.  Many people here in Arkansas remember her as a snob (we moved here after Bill became President).  There are some folks, still infatuated with her husband, who will vote for her on that basis alone.  In fact, that’s probably the bedrock of her support, especially among the Hollywood crowd.  That, and hardcore feminists.

The front-runners on the Republican side are all warmongers.  Hillary voted with them and is now struggling, just like Kerry did four years ago, to both defend and explain away her decision.  For me, that leaves Barak as the only remaining choice.  He said it well yesterday when he said that we need to do more than prevent wars, we need to change the mindset that leads to wars.

I’m curious.  Why did you feel it necessary to go to such lengths to dissuade me from supporting Obama?  Sometimes, I think your impressions of reality are distorted by the prism of Jewishness through which you gaze out upon the world.  That is not meant as a criticism but an explanation as to why I take some of your comments with a grain of salt.  I understand the innate vigilance and suspicion that generations of persecution (and worse) have instilled in Jews.  It’s part and parcel of why you never assimilated and at the same time part of why you are such visible targets.  In this case, something (and my suspicion is it’s your Jewishness) has prejudiced (and I think distorted) your views of a “young” black man with a middle name of Hussein.

Israelis seem terrified of Obama.  And the thing they’re most terrified of is that, sooner or later, Americans will begin treating all parties in the Middle East fairly.  A president with an international outlook, who represents to the world that America has moved beyond its legacy of slavery and inequality, who represents to the world that America is retreating from its image of a militarily aggressive empire, is the exact symbol of what Israel fears most.  And exactly what the world, and Americans, need so desperately.

I hope you are not offended.  We only know each other through this very non-dimensional conversation, so our impressions are probably more like shadows — skewed, magnified outlines of the frail humans who write these words.  If I have read too much into the things you write (and what others write about me!) then I am guilty of those things for which you apologized and I offer mine in return.  Even when we disagree, I appreciate your points of view.  They force me to recognize that my realities, too, are often distorted by my own prisms of prejudice and misunderstanding.

PS — you often share your Buddhist teachings and thinking with me.  If you will allow me to reciprocate, the link below is for another conversation that nicely sums up much of what I believe, and why.  I offer this, not to convince you, but to help you better understand me:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2008/01/30/VI2008013002498.html

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2008/02/02/to-an-israeli-friend/

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