Academic Writing

Monday, June 30, 2014

Patriotic Cognitive Dissonance

How do you reconcile two diametrically opposing feelings? I've been struggling with many emotions since the horrific news of the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel. Even more emotions have piled on since the devastating news of their deaths crept out in the news.  Sad and angry for the senseless deaths. Pain for the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins and friends who are directly enduring this loss. Sadness for a nation who weeps at the loss of three young innocent souls whose only crime was following in their parents' footsteps of fulfilling the promise made to our forefathers of inhabiting the land designated to the Jewish people. Sadness for a culture who swears "never again" but slowly sees antisemitism rearing it's ugly head under the guise of anti-Zionism and pro-Palestinian sentiments.

Piled on top of those overbearing emotions is the disappointment and upset I feel towards our US leaders. How could president Obama remain silent for 18 days? How can he continue to fund a government that is known to be backed by an internationally recognized terrorist organization? How can the nation I live in and love for it's freedoms of human rights be so callous to say that both sides should show restraint when one celebrates by handing out candies and cakes upon hearing the news that Israelis have been taken?

Therein lies my internal conflicting feelings. I voted for president Obama twice, admiring his domestic policies. True liberal ideals, equal rights for all - gay marriage, women's health, universal health care, raising the bar on educational standards, etc. Even with many of his the overseas policies I agreed as he vowed to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He promised to be a continued friend to Israel. And now, the president who I trusted with the country in which I live has torn my heart out regarding his attitudes for the country in which my heart lies. As a Jew living in the United States I feel marginalized. I feel all of a sudden like a second class citizen without equal rights. The hundreds of tweets, letters, and calls he received on this matter (many of which from me) fell on deaf ears. He ignored his own people who were pleading their needs to him. He avoided responding to the cries of a people who had sought out this country when their countries oppressed and slaughtered them.  Now as it's happening in the country of our homeland he's silent.  How can I on the one hand be proud of the domestic issues he tries to push through into policy and be shamed in how he's so mishandled issues regarding Israel.

Never did I think the day would come where being an American and being a Zionist would conflict, but the day has come. How do I support  a president whose policies on Israel are so antithetical to my belief system yet his American policies are so in line with what I would wish for for this country? I'm split in half and grappling with this tremendous weight. 

How has being a supporter of Israel become something that is split on party lines?  At a recent Shabbat meal when I said I was a liberal and an Obama supporter, the first question from a staunch republican was - "But do you think Obama's been good for Israel?"  Why are the republican Senators and pundits, who make me sick when they talk about US policy, the only ones who have said anything in support for Israel in the past few weeks?  Where is the outrage from Democratic leaders over the hypocrisy and violations of human rights by Hamas?  Why does a vote in support for US ideals mean a betrayal for my devotion to Israel?  When did it mean you are anti-Israel if you are Pro-choice in this country? 

These are the issues I've been facing of late.  I love both of my countries. That of my communal people and that of my personal history and place. How can my chosen leader betray me so?  I've been grappling with this since his first moments of deafening silence 18  days ago, I continue to grapple with it today and likely for days to come. 

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