Response to Sarah Tuttle-Singer
Sarah, I have thought long and hard about writing this, I believe you are sincere in wanting to know why you are evoking such strong feelings of resentment and harsh criticism and I will try my best to do what you do much better than me and put in words, what it is that troubles so many and what they may find deeply offensive and hurtful in some of your writings.
Of course I have read some of your stuff and for the most part it is a consistent narrative which I, like many find deeply troubling, one sided and oft times painful. I have from time to time left some criticism but never called you a name nor would I ever wish any harm on you. You should realize that for everyone that has issues with what you say where it manifests with hate, there are many more of us who passionately disagree in a respectful way and are just hurt and bewildered by it, that would never let that manifest in wishing harm on you or any fellow Jew.
You seem to be puzzled that some people would be saying offensive things to you and about you. I am surprised this would confound you as I recall numerous occasions where you have headlined some of your writings as you say with “deep passion” dropping F bombs and describing some whose views you do not agree with in quite unflattering terms. I think if you go back and examine some of your own wordsmithing, you might just find that the shoe fits the other foot as well if you know what I mean. That does not excuse the hate and venom directed at you, but you would need to be delusional to not acknowledge you have shot some venomous arrows in the other direction as well and as the saying goes live by the sword … you should not be surprised that some of the people that feel insulted and stepped on in your writings would feel less than unconditional love for you.
Some things to think about — you find common cause with many social justice warriors and I wonder if you have thought about how you would feel about Israel and us Jews today if you were not Jewish? Would you seriously support the right of Israel to be a Jewish nation / state? How many of your peers on the left do? I am not suggesting that you do not love and support your people or that you are a traitor, I believe your passion is genuine and motivated by all that is good in you and that you genuinely feel you are fighting the good fight and for a just cause. What i am asking you to do is to look at it from the perspective of those of us who feel we are under a withering constant assault of anti semitism from the left that has become more and more pronounced, almost en vogue today, the cool thing to be, and to see some of our own people breaking bread with these people and rationalizing anti Israel sentiment as not anti semitic but rather a sentiment for social justice is just so painful, it really hurts and it hurts bad. To most of us it is disguised and blatant anti semitism, heartbreaking to see so many of our own brothers and sisters misguided and well intended, side by side with our enemy when they should be standing with their own.
Do not take lightly the feelings of betrayal either, remember we are not so far removed from Nazi Germany and the elephant in the room that many don’t talk about — that there were more than a few Jews that rationalized the movement, made excuses for it and even voted for Hitler. It is a complicated subject and way above my pay grade to understand, but we have a history dating back thousands of years of suffering the consequences of such misguided attempts by our own to rationalize anti semitism up until the moment it is simply too late to undo the damage.
No one is under any illusions that we are a perfect people and that there are not real issues in Israel. But for all the beautiful arabs you know and friends that you have coffee and falafel with we also know a few arabs who cannot for the life of them understand how we are giving our home away and capitulating. It is Arabs I knew in the Gush that would implore me, walk up to me in the parking lot of Rami Levy and say to me, to please tell “my people” to defend our land and fight for Israel with a passion I wish more of us displayed — so there are two sides to that story. So many Israelis and arabs yearn for the day we live in peace, everyone knows this but the reality also is that there is a war going on — rockets are still launched at us indiscriminately, nations are committed to our destruction and that is simply the facts. Is every arab our enemy? Of course not! But many are.
To many of us, BDS is an issue weaponized culturally and politically by our enemies to delegitimize and destabilize us, that is an act of war and all those that support it are our enemy — simple as that.
All those that support the right of people to support BDS even they they themselves might not agree with them that it is the “best” way to voice their social justice protest are supporting our enemies! Simple as that!
For many of us as difficult as we may find the plight of many palestinians we cannot engage with them so long as they have public displays glorifying the bombing of the Sbarro pizza shop and praise the murderers of little babies asleep in their bed. I could go on and on but the point which I am sure your getting by now, is that the answer to your question of what is so bothersome to so many about some of your writings, is that in their view you are too dismissive of the atrocities of so many over so many years and too cozy with people and causes that support the delegitimizing and destabilization of Israel. I know that is harsh but it is honest Sarah — really honestly how many of us see it — and it hurts, simple as that!
Often what you write seems to follow the same narrative. I know that this happens from time to time and while not excusing it … and then you go on to rip Israel or segments of the israeli population a new one. It just seems like Israel and us Jews are the monsters and the poor palestinians are suffering horrible injustices. The simple truth is that there is too much glorifying of terrorism and indiscriminate acts of violence over the years. We recognize that we are in a war, and war is never pretty. Hiroshima and Dresden were horrendous but that is what happens in conflict, it is ugly untill there is a resolution to the conflict. We also recognize that during such time and until the conflict is resolved everyone sticks together no matter how they feel. I know you do not feel or believe for a second that you are betraying your people, but to some your writings are seen as providing aid and comfort to the enemy — much like the anguish the american soldiers felt when Jane Fonda made herself at home on an NVA enemy tank. To those soldiers she was every bit the traitor and there is simply no forgiving a traitor in time of war. I know these are strong words and I am not saying you are a modern day Hanoi Jane, I am saying that you have to understand that some will see you as one, it goes with the territory. You cannot take such “passionate polarizing positions” as you put it and not expect passionate reaction in kind.
So other than your writings being one sided, aiding and comforting those committed to our destruction and ceasing to exist, i do not think there is much else that folks have an issue with.
I know some if not all of what I wrote will sting and I am sorry for that — I do not hate you! As a matter of fact I admire the passion you have, and the tenacity to fight for what you believe in, as wrong and naive as I think you are much of the time. I just wish you were on our side, we could really use you! We need all the smart passionate people we can get our hands on defending us and fighting with us by our side in this desperate struggle for the survival of our very being.
I tried to be honest and really express the deep emotions your writing can and does evoke. Do not underestimate the effect of your writing and how helpless it makes some who read it feel. I am sure your love for Israel and your people is genuine and you consider yourself working for our well being.
You mention how physically painful it is for you to read many of the things directed at you and I am sure they are, maybe you can use that pain and try and understand that for many reading some of your stuff it is just as painful. Just like yourself, people reading your stuff are scared and really tired of their own flesh and blood telling them how “fucked up” we are.
One thing I agree with you completely on is that it is not about you, it is about us and you are one of us! But you should read your letter over and ask yourself if you really believe it is not about you? Your letter suggests that part of you may not feel that way and I feel that part of you and yes, it is a lot to hold, it is a heavy load Sarah.
Sarah, The load all of us are carrying for over 2000 years is really heavy, much heavier and for much longer than the load the Palestinians have been carrying. Once again I hope that the spirit of this comes through, I tried to be as gentle as I could yet also be as honest as possible in addressing your open letter.
Lastly, just as no one will shut you up, you should understand that taking such polarizing positions as you do will offend some deeply and you cannot ask people to not be offended by you when your stuff takes direct aim at them.
The truth is often an elusive thing, we can see many parts of it and still not recognize the essence of what it is telling us. We can mistake our own passion for validation on how we feel and double down when confronted with facts that may differ from those feelings, leading to a sort of personal stockholm syndrome. Which one of us is right? Both of us are working with the same pieces of the truth. We all see the same things, much like pieces to a puzzle and yet we put those pieces together in ever so slightly a different way, sometimes resulting in a vastly differing conclusions. New knowledge is not always the result of new information, rather the result of new understanding of the information we already have.
I look forward to the day when we are all united as one in our love for one another — trust me the hate we see amongst each other is as painful and as heavy as it gets.