First printed in April, 2003
I’ve Been Voodoo-ed
Hatred of Jews is nothing new. It is as old as Abraham and certainly no less loathsome today than it was hundreds of years ago during the Crusades, or 60 years ago in Germany. If there has been a change, it is in the length to which anti-Semites will go to prove that they are anti-Israel and not anti-Semitic. It is acceptable, they reason, to hate Israelis without worrying that someone will call them a racist or worse.
In many ways, this hatred reached its highest point in the Holocaust, when hatred was sanctioned by a government, democratically elected to fulfill the will of its civilized people. Jewish books were burned and synagogues were razed. Jews were hunted, placed in ghettoes and murdered. In the Holocaust, the methods used, the massive scale on which it was performed, and the size and breadth of the wall of silence that sanctioned it might have been different, but the underlying goal was the same.
But the Jew that walked away from the ghettos and concentration camps of Europe was stronger for having achieved a certain understanding with the world. If the world had not changed, the Jew most definitely has. Gone is the notion that we could continue to live among and assimilate into the world communities without protection. Lost was the innocence that allowed us to believe that we could find a way to be accepted as equals without truly being an equal nation. Jews can now remain in any country because ultimately Israel watches. Ever vigilant, Israel remains an option and a protector.
Only with our own homeland, would others accept us as we are and as we must be. But the natural outcome of that determination inevitably leads to even more hatred. We removed one victim from the eyes of the world – that of the defeated, victimized Jew – and gave it another target, the Israeli. Whether Israeli meant soldiers and citizens, or settlers and leaders, hatred towards this entity became accepted, even noble.
It is no longer acceptable to say you hate the Jews or the Jewish religion, but it is accepted when some call for the end of the Jewish State, support its enemies and work endlessly toward the goal of ridding the world of the evil Zionist entity and its population. But sly undercurrents often emerge that remind the Jew that in the end such deep-seated hatred of Israel is often simply anti-Semitism with a facelift. The anti-Semite tries to hide behind anti-Israel rhetoric, but the truth slips out nonetheless.
It is valid to criticize Israel. It is not a perfect nation. There are reasons why political moves are taken, and mistakes and misjudgments are as common here as they are in other countries. It is a sinister plot the anti- Semites have masterminded, that confuses the world by trying to mask hatred of the Jews behind criticism of Israel. But the Jew is smarter today and so we recognize our ancient enemy by its smell, its feel and its words and actions. There is a line beyond which spouting anti-Israel messages is really a mask for anti-Semitic intent.
Where is that line? How can we tell? For one thing, when the same action taken by Israel is roundly condemned while accepted from another country, one must question either the validity of the complaint, or the reason behind it. When attacks against synagogues and religious institutions take place, it is wrong to assume that these are anti-Israel actions. Rather, it is further proof that most of the terrorist attacks that have taken place in the last two years have a single goal in mind: that of killing Jews. When Jews are attacked in France, it is not an anti- Israel statement and when synagogues are burned in Russia, it is wrong to blame current political realities.
Why is the US allowed to assassinate terrorists thousands of miles away in Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq, while Israel is not allowed to eliminate enemies hiding within a few kilometers of our borders? Why is it acceptable, or at least only marginally unacceptable, for the US to use jet fighters to bomb civilian areas in the hopes of killing Saddam Hussein, but Israel is condemned for using the same jet fighters to take out a wanted Hamas murderer?
Why does the United Nations fail to condemn the wholesale slaughter of Jews in terrorist attack after terrorist attack? When the Jews were separated from non-Jewish passengers in Entebbe, what nation mobilized to save the Jews? Why was there no UN resolution condemning this anti-Semitic act of terrorism? Why is Israel the only country in the world that is not assigned to any regional block in the United Nations, and therefore has no chance of serving on the Security Council?
When I feel that others may not understand what we here in Israel are feeling, I write and try to explain. Sometimes, I write as a mother, believing that through my words others can imagine what a mother feels when faced with daily fears in a world where our children know too much about exploding buses and gas masks. Sometimes, I write as a Jew, hoping that others will understand our pain when the sanctity of life, something of paramount importance in our religion, is violated. And sometimes, I write as an Israeli, believing that others should know what it is like to live a certain way, despite the dangers.
Most often, however, I write as Jew, an Israeli, and a mother, all too aware that there is a circle of terror and death that surrounds my country like a burning flame, dancing close and retreating, burning some and sparing others.
In the years since I began writing articles for various newspapers and Internet sites, I’ve received many letters for and against my viewpoints. I’ve heard from people throughout the United States, from Canada, Germany, England, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, France, Israel, Spain, and even Egypt and Dubai. For the most part, these messages have been complimentary, occasionally asking for clarification or further information. I’ve had people write to say they disagreed with me and I’ve even received threats.
I write about my experiences as an Israeli, as a mother, and yes, as a Jew. I cannot separate the part of me that is Israeli from the part of me that is a Jew and therefore I am not surprised that others cannot either. I believe in the collective memory of the Jew. There is a tangible texture to anti-Semitism that we feel in our souls. We recognize it deep within our minds and hearts. It smells a certain way, it feels exactly so. Like a blind man who can recognize the sound and smells of a place, we know without seeing, without words, that this is much more than simply a political statement against the actions of a modern nation.
The most recent email I received in response to one of my articles informed me that I’d been voodoo-ed, by a Haitian priestess from Pacific Palisades, California no less. The same individual wrote that he was from France, but actually lives in California, and has written in the past. His “Kill an Israeli Settler. Save the World” post was quite interesting. He informed me that settlers “are vultures, quite insane, diseased of mind, and evil. death is too good for them. Death can not come soon enough to them all.” I dismissed this earlier post, understanding that the diseased mind from which it came was clearly quite insane.
This individual also took the time to let me know that I am “a malignant parasite, a ‘good German’ complicit in the war crimes of Nazi Israel, and the moment some brave Palestinian blows your brains out, it’ll be a mitzvah for good people everywhere.” His learned friend in Texas chimed in with his opinion that I am a “crepuscular Zionazi insect.”
But this hatred is a mask worn carelessly and as the masks slips, the truth becomes clear. A mitzvah is loosely translated as a “good deed” but is in fact one of 613 laws that the Jews are commanded to obey. It is a Jewish term, certainly not an Israeli one. And, if that alone were not a clear indication, our dear Frenchman from California slipped again as he threatened “so long as you are walking, humanity, the best of us will see your unctuous ‘virtue’ for what it really is: NAZI-ISM WITH GEFILTE FISH.”
I did not bother to inform him that gefilte fish is actually much more of a European Jewish food item than an Israeli one. It doesn’t really matter, for his message and his hatred are quite clear.
So, I was not surprised to receive yet another missive. In his most recent post, the misguided Frenchman informed me that “This evening I attended a Haitian voodoo ceremony [attached] a little name tag reading: ‘Mademoiselle Stern’. The stick-figure was placed in a compost of insect dung, and then lit afire. All assembled in the living room cursed your name: ‘Nazi Mama’, ‘Parasite’, and ‘Crepuscular Zionazi Insect’ were three of the milder ones. The voodoo priestess, a charming Haitian matron told me: ‘The hateful devil Paula R. Stern will not live past autumn of this year. A righteous soul will strike her dead.‘”
So there you have it. I’ve been voodoo-ed and richly entertained. Except for two remaining thoughts. There is great evil and hatred of Jews in the minds and hearts of many and Israel, my beloved homeland, will stand strong and protect all Jews everywhere.