Does Max Hate Israel? Do I Hate Alabama?

Elie Wiesel is dead. Max Blumenthal is not unhappy. As a goy from Alabama (ok, technically Mississippi, but I grew up in Alabama), I dont know all the details of who hates who and why. I see some folks call Max an Israeli hating Jew, and maybe he is. He says Wiesel supported fascism and murder and oppression.
max and elie.pngI grew up reading about the Nazis and their reign of terror. I always saw it in the light of my own south’s terrorism against Black folks. I love the south. I believe I love the south, and the USA a much s any man alive. I cant live in the deep south anymore because it breaks my heart, but my soul dreams of dirt roads and kudzu covered hills and creeks you can swim in and cold gray wet mornings of dead corn fields full of crows. This is my land, These are my people. I love them all, even the evil assholes with the rebel flags and the hate. I KNOW them.
Because I love the South, and my country, I CANNOT look the other  way, wave a flag and pretend everything they do in the south or everything my  country  does is  great and right and true and honorable. I have the soul that believes one must stand FOR what one loves, even if sometimes one must stand AGAINST the ones he loves. I have to call out America about race, about how Black Lives DONT Matter, to too many white folks. How we have an immigration policy that  is stood on its  head. How we have a military intervention foreign policy  that is truly evil. How we, as a society, still practice too much hatred against LGBTQ, against Muslims, against, against, against….
We have to stop. We are so close to building a Great America, not Trump’s Great America, but the real one.
But as Arlo says after fifteen minutes into Alice’s Restaurant, “That’s  not what I came here to  talk to you about.” Is Max Right about Elie? Does Max HAVE TO BE an Israeli hater because he  stands against the current policies of her government?
As I said, I am an outsider. I was born too late to have served in the second “World War.” I am not Jewish, though I was raised to love Israel by my very conservative Christian family and community (They mostly hated Jews, but loved Israel). I came to appreciate that America and ALL of Europe played a role in the destruction of the European Jews, and that we owed them some level of  support as a state of Israel as reparations.
What I did not realize until many years later  was that we conveniently “gave” (actually we gave them nothing, like India, the Palestinians and the Jews of Zion fought the British until they fled). But, in any case, the USA supported  Israel pretty  quickly. Whether it was due to Christian guilt, American Jews out-sized influence, or a perceived  strategic advantage for American national (business) interests, or some combination of the above, America was happy to support  creating and maintaining a Jewish state largely  on the lands of  displaced Arabs.
Pretty much ever since the Camp David Peace Accords, and the following assassinations of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Israel has  been behaving badly. I cant say they  have behaved a lot worse than we have, but still, no reasonable moral person can say the IDF has been used as a peacekeeping non aggressive force, nor can one say that Israel doesnt have the  blood of hundreds, or thousands of innocent non combatants on its collective hands. If Max has called Israel out for its state sponsored terrorism, if Elie refused to do so, This doesnt make Max anti Israel, and it does mean Elie supported fascism.
Maybe Max  hates Jews, like Republicans hate gays, maybe  he doesnt hate all Jews, but does hate Israel. I dont know. But if you call out the evil those you love are doing, it doesnt mean you love them less, it might  mean you love them more. I know, in my case, with America, and my fellow white southerners. I call you out BECAUSE I love you  so much you break my heart. I will not go quietly and pretend your evil is not my evil, because i am you, and I love you. I am betting Max feels much the same. It is easier for those who feel the sting to write us off as “self-hating X,” because to admit our love and yet or truth would require  the guilty parties to re-examine their actions. There is hardly a day that passes that i do not weep in my heart for the glorious south that could be, and i will fight for it, i will fight for the  America i believe we can become. Elie, if you let your justifiable rage  against the sins of the Nazis make you blind against the sins of Israel, shame on you.
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Free State of Jones, a Review and a Couple of Asides

My father grew up in Soso, Mississippi. My mother passed away in January of this year. So when the movie  came out, and he said he thought he would like to see it, I offered to go with him. He liked that, so today, on my parents 62nd wedding anniversary, which we did not mention, but I am certain was on his mind as much as mine, we went.

The Movies of Lake Worth is in a little strip shopping center out near the Florida Turnpike. It was nice that I could pull up near the curb and let my 84 year old father out with his walker. Nicer still that the walk to the theater where it was showing was the first door inside. The rows were spacious so he could even push the walker in front of him, and we sat.

Free state flag

My father has often talked about the Knight N___gs, of course being an old white man from Mississippi, he uses the word. Funny thing, he doesnt use the “N-word” in conversation, but i guess because the community held the Knights in a “Special” place, this was  the title he knows to call them by. He recently told  me that his mother, born in 1910 was picking black berries or  strawberries and she and her family stopped at the Knight house to get water. That was apparently the only time anyone in his family had anything to do with the Knights.

The movie does a good job of not sugar coating anything, from the battlefield scenes to the trial for interracial marriage (shades of the gay marriage struggle in Mississippi today), to the killings of both white and black folks. The  saddest part of the story is how a handful of  runaway  slaves helped Newton and then many more whites, but in all too common southern white fashion, the white  folks, when the war was over and the deserters were safe, they turned on the blacks, even the ones  who had saved their  lives.

I know the British, the Belgians, the Germans, and 100 other countries, including the US Army has been guilty of equally disappointing human behavior, but this is a story about my people. Some of the people on both  sides of the story are  probably my ancestors. I know  some fought in the Civil War, as confederates. Some probably hid out in the swamp  and then betrayed those who helped them when it was time to bring Mississippi out of the dark.

The movie doesnt shy away, it doesnt spare anybody. There are two things I wonder about though.

Knight comes off  as being nearly a saint. Maybe he was. Really, with the exception of Rachel and Moses, the Black folks dont have a lot of leadership. Again, maybe because  of  the times, they didnt, maybe it was understood the  being Black and “uppity” was a good way to get killed. I just wonder if it was as much the brave  smart white Newt, or if he took a bit of opportunity. Or, more likely, Hollywood has a big bankable white male star and they wanted to give him even more glory than the story had.

I dont know. The whole Free State of Jones is a history so hard to find much truth in. In fact, Mississippi is a place to find much truth in. It is my birth state, but I find more heartache than joy in it. I  enjoyed the time with my dad, and it was interesting to see some kind of truth about a bizarre piece of history we have a tangential connection to.

My father’s only comment was, “Some people say it wasnt so bad back than, but it was.” I think he is right about that.

I was disappointed the theater 100% white people, and with the  exception of a 20 something young man and woman who could have been his young mother or older girlfriend, everybody was closer to my dad’s  age than even my 56 years.

If you are interested in an unvarnished view of parts of American history that you may not know much about, go see the movie. It was well done. It might  even be close to the truth.