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Ashke-Nazis: Is That an "N" Word?

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I live in a small rural community. Mostly white. Mostly Christian -- in name if not practice. Imagine my surprise when I was listening to my local radio station and heard a talk show host talking about Ashke-Nazis. A play (a sick one at that) on the word Ahkenazis -- Jews from Eastern Europe via the diaspora of 70 CE and expulsions from countries all over Europe, leading to the expression, the wandering Jew.

She dropped the word ever so casually, without any concept of possible offense, never expecting repercussions. I wonder if she uses the "N" word that way, too. I'll never know. She's now off the air.

As a multi-faith chaplain I am appalled by the ease with which people denigrate those who are different. I doubt if there are a hundred Jews within a 30 kilometre radius from my little town. Yet my town was listening to someone express her disdain for Jews, for how long, I don't know, by comparing Jews to Nazis. And it was done in the context of Israel and the Palestinians.

From a little town to Alice Walker. In Walker's book The Cushion in the Road, there are 12 essays titled "On Palestine," with comparisons of Israelis to Nazis, denigrations of Judaism and Jews, and statements suggesting that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish state.

And she spreads the new anti-Semitism: denying the very existence of Ashkenazi Jews as a race: "Besides, it turns out that the Arabs, the Palestinians, are Semites, and that perhaps 94 per cent of Jews, the Askenazi who hail from ancient Kharzaria in the Caucusus, are not." First the Jews are a race murdered by Hitler. Now the Jews are not a race, but the Arabs are, and the Jews lose the right to live in Israel.

She is committing the sin that Edward Said so vehemently abhorred. In The Cushion in the Road, Walker describes Israel's actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians as "genocide," "ethnic cleansing," "crimes against humanity," and "cruelty and diabolical torture."

So let's take a look at that comparison made in a little town in rural Ontario and by world famous Alice Walker.

Prior to WWII, there were 18 million Jews in Europe. By the time the war ended, there were 12 million. One third murdered. A genocide. Today there are only 14 million Jews worldwide, 6 million of them (equal to the number murdered) in Israel (75.4 percent of the population). There are about 1,656,600 Arabs (20.6% of the population) living in Israel.

Where is the ethnic cleansing?

There have been other genocides. Cambodia-the Killing Fields, the Armenian genocide, and then China under Mao and the U.S.S.R. under Stalin -- but they were less a genocide and more death by starvation by the leaders -- a passive rather than active killing.

In 1948, 700,000 Arabs left the new state of Israel, some because they were told that it would be just a few days before the Jewish state would be annihilated, and others were pushed out as is wont to happen in a war zone. Today, there are more than 6 million Palestinians.

Where is the genocide?

The Nazis in the Ukraine murdered 1.2 million Jews by bullets; lining up Jews, who had been stripped naked, in front of a trench. Shot them, covered that layer of bodies with dirt and lye, and then repeated that until the trench was full. The earth moved for three days because people were still alive, trying to get out.

Where are the trenches filled with Palestinians?

Jewish women had their heads shaved so that the hair could be used for clothing. All gold teeth were extracted -- not necessarily after death. The Jews were tattooed with a number (one numbers things) when they arrived at the various concentration camps -- the Nazis were excellent at documentation. After they had been starved and worked almost to death they were sent into the incinerators.

Where are the tattooed Palestinians, the forced work camps and the Israeli crematoria?

The Nazis built an entire infrastructure in order to industrialize the murder of 6 million Jews. Jews were then packed into trains, no food, water, sanitation and taken to their final solution.

Where are the trains taking Palestinians to their death?

Hitler decided who was a Jew-based on Jewish blood; as if there are different kinds of blood based on religion. Seems he had a whole system worked out, and then based on the amount of "Jewish" blood, you would be sent to the gas chamber.

So, where is this survey on Palestinians debating their blood lines? Is someone deciding who is a Palestinian based on blood and then eliminating them?

One year after the talk show host threw the word Ashke-Nazi around the air, I finally had the opportunity to meet with the ministers of all the churches from the region to talk about anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. That didn't go well. I was politely interrupted 10 minutes into my presentation. I didn't even receive an email thank-you for my time. I never heard from any of the ministers, even the one who had been corresponding with me for a year and had made the arrangement for me to speak. This is an example of the failure of inter-faith dialogue.

Alice Walker suggests that Jews behave the way they do because they believe in their "supremacy." She suggests that Israeli settlements are motivated by the concept that "possession is nine-tenths of the law," which she claims is a lesson she "learned from my Jewish lawyer former husband." The Freudian in me sees anger toward an ex-husband projected onto others.

How does a small, rural community in Ontario with little contact with Jews have such a dislike for and disrespect of them? It's a sickness. Spread by people like Alice Walker.