Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Flagging Principles

Some of you may have seen the story of a Conservative Jewish day camp which hosted a group of Palestinian youth from "Kids4Peace" and, as a gesture of welcome, hoisted a Palestinian flag alongside its usual American and Israeli flags. Right-wing Jews reportedly went ballistic (though I've seen little evidence any of them are affiliated with the camp or its campers), and the camp -- to its great shame -- apologized.

That the camp apologized rather than stand behind what ought to be a completely uncontroversial display of hospitality and welcoming is, of course, disgraceful. It's perhaps noteworthy that -- until this screed hit my inbox this morning -- the only commentary I'd seen from the Jewish press was dismay that the camp did apologize (e.g., here and here). Perhaps that generates some hope that, in the feature, the camp will model more of a backbone and not kowtow to the frothing right fringe. We could also talk, as several people have, about the sheer irony of throwing a fit about showing a Palestinian flag within a shouting distance of the Dyke March ban of Israeli (or "Israeli") flags. It's always nice to see just how fast some people reveal their ever-so-deeply-felt principles to be tickets good for this ride only.

But for me, the real thing to concentrate on is the tremendous bad faith of the conservative objectors in terms of what they purportedly expect out of Palestinians. Their argument is that it is wrong to raise a Palestinian flag insofar as Palestinians refuse to accept Jewish equality or relate to Jews on any basis but hate. The problem being, of course, that the flag was hoisted precisely to greet a contingent of Palestinian youth who were committed to doing just the opposite -- coming to a Jewish space in the spirit of friendship, equality, and respect.

In essence, the conservative demand of Palestinians is "you don't deserve acceptance until you start treating Jews with decency, respect, tolerance, and love, and if you do all of those things go fuck yourselves anyway."

It's grotesque and it's embarrassing. And it's a shonda that it carried the day.

UPDATE: I happen to know, from painful experience, that authors do not choose the headlines for their columns. So I really, really hope that whichever editor titled this piece "In raising the Palestinian flag, Jewish camp disrupts a safe space for Zionism" was making a sly jab at conservatives who proudly ride their high horse about the horror of "safe spaces" right up until the sight of red-white-and-green sends them into panicked whimpers about the existential threat to Jewish self-determination.

Honestly, if your Zionism is so weak that the mere presence of a Palestinian flag leaves you dazed and shaken, maybe it's time for you to take a break and leave the struggle to those of us with a bit more moxie.

No comments: