Ameinu American Jews Americans for Peace Now Gaza flotilla Gaza Strip Israel J Street Palestinians

Dialogue on the Gaza Flotilla

“I appreciate your call. My staff was going to get in touch with you. The task force is meeting tomorrow at 8:30. Can you make it?”

“I’m afraid the Consulate will need to get someone else. I’m calling to tell you I can’t help anymore. I’m too upset…”

“But the facts are on our side. Didn’t you see the IDF video we just released? It’s great! It proves that our soldiers were attacked when they descended from the helicopters. So Israel had every right to…”

“..Jeffrey, my son, isn’t buying it. That’s why I’m upset. He’s home from Brandeis and he’s reading all the Twitter feeds, the blog posts. He’s even started to read Haaretz.”

“Oh no!”

“He wants to know why I keep automatically defending your country every time it gets accused of something. He says I look for the facts that help me come to Israel’s defense and ignore all of the other facts. He accuses me of not wanting to offend everyone else in the JCRC by being a non-conformist and thinking for myself.”

“Yes, we greatly appreciate your help, Si.”

“I taught my boy to be an independent, critical thinker. So now he’s thought about that attack, and he’s telling me there was no justification for storming the boat in international waters. He says Israel wasn’t protecting itself. Its actions had nothing to do with Israeli security; it was protecting a blockade of Gaza that is a form of collective punishment, which is illegal. And immoral.”

“Did you tell him why the blockade is necessary? That Hamas is a terror organization, and we can’t allow them access to weapons, or materials that could be used to make weapons?”

“Yeah. And he pointed out that if it were all about keeping out weapons, why is there a blockade of exports from Gaza? Why don’t you let Gazan workers into Israel? Why can’t students there get visas to study abroad? He said Israel wants to keep people living in a wretched state so they’ll blame Hamas. He dared me to defend that and I couldn‘t do it. I didn’t want to do it.”

“But there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Did you tell him that?”


“Why not?”

“Because I’m not sure I believe it myself, I don’t know why I should trust you more than I trust Amnesty International. They say there’s a crisis. So I tell myself, `somebody must be lying. Why should I believe Israel isn’t lying?’”

(Long, long pause). “Si, could we get back to the original topic? Your son should know that the volunteers on that ship were pro-Hamas activists. They were armed with clubs and knives because they wanted a confrontation. That was their choice, not ours.”

“Jeffrey doesn’t buy it. That’s the point. He doesn’t believe anything Israel says anymore. Look, I know you’ve got a tough job and I’m sorry. But there are just too many things about your country I can’t defend when he talks about them….”

“…I would be happy to supply you with more talking points. Ask me anytime…

“…Tossing Palestinians out of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem, so that settlers can move in…And not letting in Noam Chomsky…And your foreign minister, your boss, pushing for Israeli Arabs to take loyalty oaths…”

“Those are all isolated examples. What does any of that have to do with the Gaza flotilla?”

“It has to do with my only son. He asks me why I would want to be the p.r. mouthpiece for a country like that!”

“Has he been to Israel? Does he understand how complex the situation is?”

“Sure he’s been there. This summer, he went to Bi’lin, on the West Bank, and he saw how the security barrier cut that village in half. So he joined the protestors. I told him that was a mistake…But I didn’t really believe what I was saying. Now he’s considering joining the boycotters when he gets back to school. You’ve lost him. But I don’t want to lose him. Forget it! Enough is enough! The respect of my kid is more important to me than helping your country!”

“Look, if you’re concerned about him, why not tell him he doesn’t need to leave the fold? There are liberal Zionists against the occupation. He can still find a home in the pro-Israel community.”

“You mean an official of the Israeli government is recommending that someone join J Street, or Americans for Peace Now, or Ameinu? Does the Foreign Ministry know about this?”

(Long pause. Sigh) ”I didn’t even want this posting. I wanted them to send me to Costa Rica.”

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