Monday, November 19, 2007


Much of comedy and humor consists of making fun of or exposing those things that we repress or that we do not like to talk about. So we tease each other about our hidden foibles. Stand up comics make jokes about what happens or what does not happen in our bathrooms and our bedrooms, and about our politicians.

Tom Reiss has an article in The New Yorker for November 19, 2007 entitled “Laugh Riots,” about Dieudonne a Black French comic. Beginning around 2002, this already famous, rich and very popular guy started making jokes about Zionism. The Israel Lobby in France and much of the French establishment immediately began criticizing him as anti-Semitic and some of his fans abandoned him. He became the darling of the “David Duke Types” in France, but his fan base remains far broader than this. I cannot judge from the article alone whether Dieudonne is anti-Semitic by my standards or whether he is a brilliant comic innovator bringing a long needed comic challenge to the Israel Lobby. He is seen as anti-Semitic by almost all Jews and, as I will try to show below, that is part of the problem that calls for comic relief.

It is not anti-Semitic to be against Zionism, although the Israel Lobby does its best to label anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic. Not all Jews are Zionists. Conservative Jews see Zionism as a corruption and false reading of Judaism. For them worship of the State of Israel instead of God is idolatry. There are Jewish peace groups in Israel and in the United States that are either outright anti-Zionist or willing to set up and honor a viable separate state for Palestinians. It is not anti-Semitic to be critical of neocon, right wing, or hawkish acts and policies of Israel in exactly the same way that it is not anti-American to be critical of such in the U.S. Many US Jews are very critical of the Bush Administration, but will tolerate no criticism of Israel.

For those of us who yearn for equality, true democratic self-government, truth, justice and peace for ourselves and others, it is imperative that the awesome political power of the Israel Lobby be challenged. It has been politically impossible in the US to make such a challenge because of our own guilt about failing to rescue the Jews in WWII, the Holocaust, and the sly, astute and intimidating use of the charge of “anti-Semitism” in a way that is reminiscent of the charge of “communism” in the era of Joseph McCarthy.

The key to understanding Zionism is that it is and always has been a political effort to capture as much land for Jews in the Middle East as possible. The goal is territory, territory only for Jews. It is this basic truth that Israel and Israel Lobby propagandists and a large number of American Jews deny and suppress, suppress like the sexual urge of Victorian women.

There are many characteristics of Zionism that make it an enemy to be opposed and challenged and made fun of:

• Zionists promote the false idea that the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza were fairly captured by Israel in the 1967 War. The fact is that War was with Egypt and Syria. Palestine was not a participant. Israel simply seized the opportunity to expand “Israel.”

• Zionists say “Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable!” Of course! But the Zionist catch is, Zionists set no limit to and no defined boundaries for the “Israel.” They try to lead the world to believe that any territory occupied by the Israeli army is “Israel.” Zionists aggressively seek more and more geographical territory. Some seek the return of Biblical Israel which allegedly extended from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in Iraq. So when the President of Iran states, as I do, that Israel must remove the West Bank settlements, and halt the military occupation, the Israel Lobby falsifies the statement, says the Iranians want to “drive Jews into the sea” and uses that as a reason to bomb Iran and broadcasts the charge of “anti-Semitism,”

• The inappropriate or false charge of “anti-Semitism” is something like, but worse than the children’s story where Peter yells “wolf” “wolf” once too often and the claim becomes ridiculous and meaningless. Peter was just a scared and manipulative little boy, and not a powerful nation secretly seeking to capture more and more territory for Jews.

• Zionists themselves are and were terrorists and assassinated and bombed innocent civilians in their quest to establish, expand, and maintain the State of Israel.

• Zionists have never favored the establishment of a viable state for Palestinians.

• Zionists have never suspended the aggressive building of settlements in the West Bank following Camp David or the Oslo Accords and have never been willing in negotiation to make such suspension an immediate fact in peace negotiation.

• Zionists are “racist” in the sense that they establish, expand and maintain “Israel” only for persons who have a Jewish mother. No others can move to “Israel.”

• Zionists, although secular, promote the idea among Jews world wide to worship “Israel” and to defend it with religious zeal.

• Zionists have never recognized their victimization of the Palestinians who occupied the area for many centuries, have neither made nor offered reparations or compensation. They simply ignore and deny their existence. Hence 4 million Palestinians have been living in refugee camps under occupation by the Israeil Army for 40 years.

• Zionists have never sincerely sought peace in negotiations and have always followed the policy of ongoing military occupation and settlement expansion even during peace negotiations to “establish facts on the ground,” in other words to take more territory for Jews, while pretending to negotiate for peace.

• Zionists promote self pity among Jews world wide, and promote seeing themselves as victims of the Palestinians.

• Zionists are allied with and linked with Bush, the neocons, and the Christian Right in the US, and thus actively promote the Bush-Cheney effort to attack Iran.

• Zionists and more importantly the Israel Lobby simply deny all of the foregoing and seek to punish, ridicule, and shame those who utter any of the foregoing.

The above lies, prejudices, denials, and hubris are fertile material for comedians and stand up comics. If this is what Dieudonne is doing in France, we badly need his counterpart in the United States. Persistence and repetition are key to successful propaganda. Making fun of, satirizing, and ridiculing this propaganda is the weapon of the comic.

As Bryan Zepp Jamieson says:

“Lies have the power to alter truth.

But truth has the power to destroy lies.”

November 19, 2007

Douglas R. Page, Tucson, AZ

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