Remarks on Israel were not hateful

While not exactly topical for a debate on municipal issues, I would like to thank Biome Michael Erickson for breaking the silence on the issue of Israel/Palestine. I don't believe that calling for the peaceful dismantling of the Zionist apartheid state is hateful, or racist.

I didn't attend the Rotary forum for mayoral candidates, but Biome himself told me that after expressing his views on the dismantling of the Israeli apartheid state and being shouted at by one member of the audience, a Rotary representative banged a loud bell and demanded the Biome be silent, saying, "You will sit down now!" The Rotary club should consider what a society looks like in which people are fearful of expressing their opinions and questioning their leaders.

Some have accused Biome of questioning "Israel's right to exist," but I see this as a loaded term that recalls to memory the veritable fear for their very existence Jews faced during the Holocaust.

Biome didn't question anyone's right to exist, rather the right of an institution or state to maintain legitimacy despite flagrant and ongoing human rights violations. Israel cannot walk all over international law and then accuse anyone who protests of being Nazi and a threat to Jewish existence.

Likewise, members of the Rotary club and others in our community should not water down the memory of those lives lost in the Holocaust by accusing those who protest Israel's violations against the Palestinians (in many cases the right to simply exist) of being haters or anti-Semitic. Doing so is to ignore the lessons that our culture should have learned from the horrible era of German fascism, these being, in a nutshell: that atrocities are atrocities no matter what the justification and that we are personally responsible for our own actions, that nationalism and racial nationalism lead to the potential for genocide, and the need for international law and recognition of sovereign nations and their right to be free from the threat of colonization by empires.

Unfortunately it is Israel, the state with laws guaranteeing it a Jewish majority, backed by the colossal imperial force of the American military, which is violating international law by colonizing Palestinian land, demolishing Palestinian homes, displacing and massacring Palestinians and subjecting the Palestinians to brutal occupation and severe restriction of movement.

Americans need to quit being silent on the issue of Israel and Palestine. The issue is central to the justification of another war of aggression in the Middle East, the most recently notable of which left close to a million dead in Iraq. I will not sit by quietly and watch another million die in Iran. If Israel would stop behaving as a nuclear armed regional thug, it would have no need to fear its neighbors.

Biome Michael Erickson is a courageous leader in our community for speaking out despite the fear of retribution. If Germany had had more people like him in the late 1930s, maybe the Holocaust would not have happened.

Ryan Navickas


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