Archive | June 2017
The rainbow flag is supposed to symbolize inclusiveness. The origin of the rainbow as a symbol is God’s blessing for all of humanity after the Flood. It sometimes happens that a march or other event celebrating one group or another disincludes some categories of people. If I remember correctly a gay Jewish organization had trouble in the past being included in the Salute to Israel parade. Banning tgroups based on religion or race is less common now. Banning LGBTQs is less common now, thought still sometimes an issue.
However when there is a LGBTQ event that bars such a group, that strikes me as just wrong. This happened recently in Chicago when the organizers of a lesbian event banned a rainbow flag with a Magen David on it (That is the six-pointed star which is a common Jewish symbol which also appears on the Israeli flag). The organizers banned such a flag because they asserted it is Israeli and therefore a symbol of the oppression of Palestinians. I have encountered this kind of thing before and always find it unreasonable and containing a whiff at least of anti-Semitism.
I have been an advocate for Palestinian rights and for their statehood since the early 70s, if not before. I have been very public about it, despite that causing me some grief and probably costing me at least one job. I am committed to that today. I am also a Zionist because I support the idea of a Jewish state. That puts me often in uncomfortable situations, but it also enables me to address audiences that support Israel and audiences that support the Palestinian cause with some credibility.
I carried out a Google search for articles on the issue and found one on The Electronic Intifada where, as expected, I found support for the ban.
Their site allows comments from readers. I posted the following. I hope it helps my readers understand the issues involved.
“For me this is a very complicated issue and I find your response to be limited. I am a Zionist (leftist variety); I have advocated for Palestinian rights and have publicly criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians for over forty years (at some cost to myself and my career); I am an advocate for LGBTQ rights; I am from an old Chicago family; and, having grown up among Holocaust survivors I have a lifetime commitment to communication and co-operation among faiths including Islam.
I think I understand the objections of Palestinians and their supporters, but the fact remains, what I am reading smacks of old-fashioned anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel (based on deserved offense at Israeli policies and practices regaring Palestinians). On the other hand this kind of protest only adds to the conflict and the problem. It deepens the division.
The Lesbian community has important problems it faces and inserting this issue hurts them and their cause. The same kind of thing happened at two of the UN conferences on women’s issues derailing the real purpose of those conferences.
What I believe will help is for a special group like “dykes” to use their common identity and situation as an opportunity for the people involved to talk and listen to each other. Showing pride in being Jewish should not offend homosexuals. In fact people of many identities – religious, ethnic, etc. – coming together and showing their diversity would be a source of strength for the movement. This is what the rainbow is supposed to symbolize and I do not mean just the flag.
LGBTQ groups have been barred from showing their colors at marches celebrating identity. For those under the rainbow banner to behave this way is kind of a betrayal of themselves.
My guess is that among Jewish dykes there is a range of political opinion and many will be in sympathy with the oppression of the Palestinian people.
The question is are you part of the problem or part of the solution?”
The following was written as a response to a comment on the Curmudgeons list about certain groups (minorities, women) portraying themselves as victims.
Thinking of oneself as a victim is unhealthy for both individuals and groups. It is one thing to see the cause of a problem and another to think one is a victim. That is true even when problems are caused by someone or something else. Any psychologist could tell you that.
“We shall overcome” is not about being victims. It is about finding a way to solve problems, which means having the power to do so. Victim-thinking is “I have problems which are caused by something beyond my control. Therefore it is on that something to fix my problem.” This kind of attitude is unhealthy for individuals and for groups.
Psychotherapy is largely a process in which a person has to discover what the problem is; why the problem exists; and how to resolve that problem by one’s own efforts. Your statement reminds me that this applies to groups of people.
Gandhi wrote of the difference between power over and power to. Same thing.
When MLK came to Chicago in 1966, he was turning from dealing with civil rights to dealing with poverty. He worked with our minority communities to open up job opportunities and even bring peace among the gangs. This was called Operation Bootstrap, which should tell you how he was thinking.
Saul Alinsky’s work and works were along the same lines (and useful for anyone or any way of thinking ) and he was one of the most effective activists I know of.
I am sure you know the saying, “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
Whether urban minority or rust-belt underemployed, thinking as a victim solves nothing. Taking responsibility for oneself is the key to solving one’s problems. Of course capital investment, legal reform and government programs can then serve to empower yourself in solving the problem.
I see Trump as a weak person because he always seems to blame others for his problems. People who are of strong character do not think that way.
Disadvantaged groups, as another old saying has it, need a hand up, not a hand-out. On this I seem to agree more with conservatives than with liberals. The problem is that those calling themselves conservative oppose hand-ups as well as hand-outs.
The coal industry is in sunset mode, for example. The way to help those who worked in the mines is not keeping the mines open (which serves the mine owners and not the miners). The way up and out is job training and capital investment in sunrise industries, such as computers. There is a federal program that has been doing this, but the Trump budget has taken most of the funding away from it. (I could look up that program, if you are not aware of it.)
In any case, it is not just those on the left calling themselves vicims. It is just as common on the right. Victim-thinking is a vey real problem throughout our nation. Putting it one one side and denying it on the other is simply unhelpful.