London will fade into the distance tomorrow as we board the EroStar to Paris. Dawn and Linda have arrived, bringing all their New York moxie and the warmth of our long friendship. I waited for them outside the Russell Street tube station yesterday morning, watching embraces on departures and arrivals, men and women simply happy to welcome another back or sad to see them go and around all this travel drama the daily rush of city life, workers, students, getting on with their day in London. La Professoressa has finished marking the latest batch of her students' papers that follow her where ever she goes and this morning we had to repack every thing because others will be living in the flat for the next 12 days. After Paris, I will be returning to New York with Dawn and Linda for a five week stay in my first city. Never have I been so mobile and never have I been so old.
Before I leave this wonderful privilege of writing to you every morning, I have to say some things. You know I write often about the government failings of Israel, about the suffering its policies cause the Palestinian people under its subjection and how ultimately, this way of being in the region is and will be a terrible blight on Israel's national soul. I have written about my need as a Jew to speak up in the face of a unjust state that calls itself a Jewish homeland and my belief that this urgency comes from my deepest Jewish self, not from Jew self hatred. On the other side of my watchful concern with Israel is my own monitoring of growing anti-Jewish sentiment that comes bubbling to the surface in times of personal or national crises. I am thinking of the drunken torrents of hatred that poured out of Mel Gibson in 2006, the more recent rantings of John Galliano whose queerness both in the old and the new sense of the word, make his verbal assaults disturbing on many levels, the accusations of freedom- of- information hero, Assange who believes he is the victim of a Jewish conspiracy, if how he is being quoted is correct, the rantings of Glen Beck who piles Jewish names on his list of the most dangerous people of America and shouts it to the Fox audience, flapping his hand in that mock sincere way he has, a baby face run amok
Perhaps when already Jew-haters read criticisms of Israel, they feel that rush of relief that now it is alright to say all that they have muttered to friends: "I told you Jews were arrogant, money hungry people, dead set on controlling the world starting with the banks and then the movies and now all of media. They are every where." Yes, I know there is much free floating anxiety about Jews n the air, that broken people find some kind of release in spouting killing words and words about mass killings, I also know that the West's seemingly seamless backing of Israel, a paradox of power, is in its own way, an anti-Semitic gesture. As some have said of the Arab uprisings, we treated the Arab people as if they were not capable of desiring Democracy; in a sense we trapped them in a history of our own making but now they are creating their own history--in the face of American and British supplied weapons turned against them. Perhaps Israel too has been treated as a kind of child, a nation state born of abuse that cannot trust languages of reconciliation, negotiation or public empathy and so gorges itself on the apparatus of security, of weaponry, of expulsions and monoculturalism. Weaponry pours in year after year but the national emotional skills of co-existence remain undeveloped--Israel needs to be ineffective that way to serve the security needs of the others, its so-called friends.
Hamas, on the other side of the wall, refuses to allow its children to learn of the Holocaust, saying it would poison their souls--when only an empathetic reading of each other's history will allow a way forward. Israeli schools will not allow the words of the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, into its curriculum for fear he will soften the hearts of their children to those who must always be seen as the enemy. You know, I started writing this post first to say good-bye for the time we will be in Paris and knowing I had to say something about being a critic of a nation that calls itself the Jewish State in times of rising anti-semiticism and in the face of intractabilities on the other side, and now I find myself deep in a psychoanalytical view of disturbed nations. What I want to say is that what I and others are trying to do is keep all our eyes open, hear the dangers all around, and pick our way to doing the just thing, using our deepest instincts and social knowledges both as Jews and queers. To fall silent because these are dangerous times is the most dangerous thing of all.
Au revoir, con amore, for now.