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Thursday, June 3, 2010

This Time They Went Too Far...

When I was a child my parents had bought me The Book of Knowledge, a type of encyclopedia. A photo I saw there so deeply affected me that I have never forgot it. I must have been around 5 years old. It was a pit full of emaciated bodies with a bulldozer pushing more bodies into it. I asked myself what was this about? How did this happen? I knew it was something horrible, but had no idea what. Through the years I found out.

As a pre-teen I was obsessed with reading books about the holocaust starting with The Diary of Anne Frank, which my mother had given me.I also developed a curiosity about Judaism and something in me resonated with this religion despite the fact that I was a Catholic. I was inexplicably drawn to it.

I began to notice words and practices within my Sicilian family that were not 'Catholic' nor 'Italian' but Jewish. My mother would merely say it was something grandma and grandpa brought from Sicily, period. I was curious about all this. Now I believe that my grandmother's family had been Jewish at some point in their history, but had been forced to convert way back when.

As an undergraduate, I studied the kibbutz educational system and wrote a term paper about it. Later in my graduate program in Linguistics, I chose Hebrew as my non-Indo-European language (all others in the program chose Japanese or Chinese). As it turned out, I was the only gentile in the class which was taught by an Israeli woman. She also taught us about the holidays, which we celebrated in class.

When I returned from the Peace Corps and lived in Washington, D.C., my best friend Connie was Jewish and we used to go to the Jewish Community Center dances where I hoped to find a husband.I planned to convert and fulfill my desire to be Jewish.

A few years ago, while pursuing a study of the religions of the world, my teacher told us that often while studying a religion in depth, one discovered such an attraction that it lead to a conversion of some sort. My first reaction was that I would become a Jew. That didn't happen.
Instead, I got attracted to Islam and studied Arabic.

I found out that my grandfather's family had been Muslim at some point in the past because the family name was not Italian, but Arabic. Sicily had been part of the Moorish kingdom, that Arabic was spoken in the court and in the church even after King Roger took power. That many words in the 'backwards' Sicilian dialect my grandparents spoke, were Arabic. I felt that I embodied the three religions: a Jewish soul, a Christian body and a Muslim heart.

But that is another story.

I heard about the concept that Jews who died during the holocaust had been reincarnated in non-Jewish bodies because there were not enough Jews. That there were many (of us, for I believed I was one of these people) who had 'Jewish souls' in Christian or other bodies. I totally resonated with this idea. After all, my name was Judith and I had always felt Jewish. I even discovered someone who I believed I had been. Although she had converted to Catholicism and was preparing to be a nun, she died in Auschwitz. I found out about her while at an Anthropology conference at the Carmelite convent in Santa Barbara (go figure). She had been calling to me. Her Nun name was Theresa and I had been hearing this name in my heart for months.

In the past, I was so proud that the State of Israel was founded a couple days from my birthday in May of 1948. I felt it was fated that I would become Jewish and go to Israel and live on a kibbutz.

I tell you all this to underscore the pain I feel about what Israel represents today. I feel they have become the abusers, like most victims of abuse. They learned from the Nazis. They are becoming better Nazis.
They stop any criticism by screaming anti-Semitism and try to halt any comment by Jewish people by accusing them of being 'self-hating Jews'. I admire Norman Finkelstein so much for having the guts to speak the truth.

This latest action of attacking the compassionate flotilla, is the last straw. They are a rogue state. They are the 'evil empire.' Now the world sees the truth of what they have become.

I am so glad I was not successful in becoming Jewish or finding a Jewish husband. I see that Jewish people are in a difficult situation. To criticize Israel can ruin your career, your life, and disrupt your family. Yet, not to criticize is to be complicit with criminal behavior.

When I first heard The Shema I was shaken to my core. As a Sufi minister, I always use it in the Universal Worship. It goes deeply into me every time I hear it and recite it. It is so beautiful and evocative.

Listen, Oh Israel, the Lord thy God is One. The Lord (Our God) is One. The God of the Jews, the God of the Christians and the God of the Muslims... IS ONE. Three religions from the root of Abraham! You are the self-hating Jews because you are killing your own family!