Laurie Penny has a piece in the New Statesman today that’s designed to make clear that good Jews, like her, oppose Israel’s assault on Gaza and its treatment of Palestinians generally. To make this case, she necessarily contrasts herself with bad Jews (and, to be sure, bad Zionists of other faiths too):
Israel’s continuing assault on Gaza has claimed hundreds of Palestinian lives and has created 81,000 refugees. I should support it, according to many Zionist opinionators, because I am half Jewish. They tell me that those children had to die so that my future children can be safe.
The only problem is that these baddies don’t actually exist. There isn’t anyone out there who’s arguing that it’s right and proper to kill Palestinian children or that their deaths were somehow necessary. Not even this clown, in the course of making a legally ridiculous and morally reprehensible point about civilians, makes the argument that children have to die.
The Israel government argues, again and again, that they are not targeting civilians, that civilians deaths are unintentional, that Hamas regularly places Gazan civilians at risk in order to protect their own weapons emplacements, and that the IDF goes to great lengths to avoid endangering civilians. Now, you might not believe them and you’re certainly entitled to believe what you want to believe. But dead children in Gaza is actually bad for Israel in a wide variety of ways and I’d be amazed if these alleged “many Zionist opinionators” don’t know this by now. Maybe, despite their role as “opinionators,” they haven’t been following the media coverage.
Penny is right that it’s important for Jews to voice their opposition to Israeli violence against Palestinians; being Jewish doesn’t mean giving the Israeli government a free pass when it does something wrong. Doing so might mean running into some nasty extremist Jews and Christian Zionists who think the Torah is all one needs to know about history and who consequently think there’s no such thing as occupied territory. But that’s the price you pay for saying what you think needs to be said.
Yet even these people — cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs as they are — aren’t supportive of the death of children. In five solid days of yelling at me on Twitter, not one of them wrote that the Israeli government had to or ought to kill children in Gaza.
The claim that there’s a group of bad Jews out there, all believing that the blood of innocent children will make their own children safe, just isn’t true. Apparently, though, it just wasn’t sensationalist enough for Penny to write, “I oppose killing kids.” It seemed much better to her to write, “Jews tell me I should support killing kids.”
No one’s telling her that.