I am angry. My anger is not based on hatred, rather, it is love which fuels it. Love for the Other, humans and non-humans. Anger is a beautiful expression of the heart, it can be terrible, it can be sublime. I am not perfect, and therefore I cannot claim to represent any universal truth other than that which my heart and soul lead me to express. Judaism is my faith, not my religion. And though some will, no doubt, find a lot of my views and interpretations heretical and not at all politically correct, I make no apologies. I am not trying to re-write Jewish theology, I am trying to re-define and re-think it, deconstruct dogma and re-discover, if only for my self, the seemingly forgotten beauty that has been lost in the new definitions expounded by political Zionists, definitions which I find not only morally objectionable but contrary to the spirit of fundamental inter-human ethics upon which Judaism, as I undestand it, is founded. I must add that I'm not by any means a theologian nor, much less, a trained philosopher. I only hope to write in the spirit of one who is slowly learning new ideas and concepts and attempting to express them in the context of my faith, which I'm also constantly learning about and discovering. And is it not that what faith is -- a personal journey of discovery?
One of the most important lessons I have been fortunate enough to receive were the lessons my grandparents taught me. My grandparents survived Auschwitz and other horrors during the big unpleasantness of the Shoah. I remember as a little girl overhearing their conversations with other survivors, my parents told me of stories they in turn had overheard. It made my blood run cold with fear. Then one day, I was 10 years of age, my cousins, brothers and I went with our grandparents to Poland, we went to see Auschwitz. I cannot describe the feelings that surged through me then and there. The legendary gates at the entrance, the barbed wire, the cold barracks. And the gas chambers, the "showers". And the ovens. I had never in my life experienced such a raw surge of uncontrollable emotion, and I hope I never do again. To realize, truly understand and accept that my sweet, merry grandparents and millions of others had been at one point quite literally branded for eventual extermination for no other reason than that they were Jews, well, I lost it. My legs gave way and i dropped to the floor in tears. Tears of sorrow, of anger, of helplessness and acceptance, and then hate.
When we returned the nightmares began, and never really went away. Nightmares of gas filling up the shower room, and of blazing giant ovens filled with every person in my family, my friends, neighbours, everyone I had ever met up to that point in my life. It was not long after the nightmares started that I began to hate Germans. That I was of German descent did not matter, in fact, it seems now in retrospect that that fact actually intensified the hate. That hate in turn became a love for Israel, the land of my birth. A love that in truth was nothing more than an expression of nationalism, and it had its innermost beginnings in hate. Sick, no? I forget exactly what it was I said to my grandfather, I only remember that it had to do with the occupation of Palestine and Germany. I said some hateful things which I now regret, and most unforgivably, I tried to use both the Shoah and my hate for Germans to justify the criminal treatment of an entire people who had never done me any harm. My grandfather sat me on his lap, and simply told me " I have forgiven. I am free once again."
It struck me to my very soul. It was simply outrageous any person who suffered like my grandparents should just simply forgive. Many conversations ensued, I tried fighting the idea but it had taken hold. Slowly, i saw the terrible mistake I made, and with acceptance came love and then too, I forgave. Poets have written countless lines dedicated to love, and I do not believe any have yet been able to do justice to the word and the concept. My anger remained, but it was now driven by a love I had never known was possible. A love for living beings which began to re-shape my thought, my philosophy, my very self.
As I began to explore this newly discovered capacity for love it became painfully obvious that much of what I believed had it's beginnings in a dark moment of my life. Most obvious was my ardent support for Israel. As I explored this support it became clear to me, for many reasons, that I could no longer in good faith continue to support a regime which treated innocent people, some were children, like myself, in a manner much like the one that drove me to hate. It was clear then that I was an anti-Zionist Jew, the most hated kind of Jew today, seen by many as no more than a modern day Kapo. A "self-hating Jew".
Another side-effect of this newly discovered love was the necessity to defend my new beliefs, and a rediscovery of my faith began. And a love affair with philosophy. As I study philosophy I will gain strength, and that strength will be used to find my voice amongst the multitudes. And with that voice I pray I can be able to share the lessons my grandparents taught me.
Nadia Schroeder is one of my dear Jewish sisters in humanity, and I will continue to work with her to solve the human rights crisis in Israel and Palestine.