In the midst of a heated Facebook discussion (okay, I know) on the military policies of the state of Israel, someone disagreeing with me basically accused me of anti-Semitism. No surprise there. But the accusation was couched in a series of questions: why are you specifically so worked up about this particular conflict? With all the terrible things going on in the world today, why focus on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians?
Apparently, for my interlocutor, the fact that my taxes are funding this particular genocide, and that it has been going on all of my lifetime, were not sufficient reasons. So here are a few extra:
I am a student of, and have written about, Italian Jewish culture. I also spent a year on a Fulbright in Tunisia, a place that has seen some ugly violence as a result of both anti-Semitism and the killing of Palestinians by the Israeli army.
I was raised at a time when, as members of the Catholic left, my parents believed that the Jews were in fact our “elder brothers.”
My earliest role model as a writer was Anne Frank.
Of course, this last reason gives me pause today. But it is nonetheless true. As a queer adolescent, I identified with Anne Frank. I even began my own journal (which I then kept for decades,) and, like Anne Frank, wrote the entries in the form of a letter. However, rather than address my letters to Kitty, I wrote “Dear Jude,” after St. Jude — the Patron Saint of Lost Causes.
I understand that the revelation of this information will produce a litany of accusations, from cultural tourism to grotesque appropriation of the Holocaust to the suggestion that Filo-Semitism is a form of anti-Semitism. In my imagination, this is how it sounds: “Anne Frank! What is it with him and this Jewish thing?! It’s like Sylvia Plath all over again, only worse, because he doesn’t have the talent!”