As a mixed race person of Korean and Jewish descent, I often find it difficult to write about Jewish identity matters given that I have struggled with them all my life. However, given the fact that race is but a social construct, the time has come to break my silence.
When I first heard that Israel is donating money to the rebuilding of Houston after Hurricane Harvey, I was quite pleased to hear the news, even if the amount being donated was just a nominal 1 million dollars.
However, my sense of pride was culled with alacrity after reading this piece by ABC News.
Israel says it will donate $1 million in emergency aid to Houston’s Jewish community to aid in post-Harvey recovery efforts.
Bennett says that “for years the Jewish communities stood by Israel when it needed their help; now it is our turn to stand by Houston’s Jewish community.”
For those unfamiliar with the creation of modern-day Israel, suffice it to say that local Jewish communities and grassroot Jewish Zionism did (and continue to) stand by Israel. Additionally, high-status Jewish individuals and their assets were absolutely necessary in transforming Zionism from a fringe movement to a mainstream cause célèbre around the world. Examples of this can be seen in the number of paid editorials in large newspapers advocating public support for Zionism and the political maneuvering that established the legal and practical framework for the creation of Israel.
When considering the modernization and militarization of Israel, one can point to many non-Jewish powers that supply Israel with a constant stream of aid. For instance, America will grant Israel 38 billion dollars in military aid over a ten-year period. Unless the aid package is re-worked at some point to give the small nation even more.
It has always been a dominating characteristic of the Jewish psyche to look beyond concepts such as race and socioeconomic standing when pertaining to matters of human dignity. For this reason, Jews were incredibly influential in the American civil rights movement and routinely stand against what many perceive to be social injustices including South African apartheid and the rise of the alt-right (not to mention what they view as Trump’s complicity to the white supremacist movement).
As a thought experiment, if the Trump administration sent aid to white South Africans after a catastrophe that affected all the people of that country, would we, as Jews or human beings, stand idly by and not condemn the implicit racism of the gesture? The answer, of course, is no. Proud American Jews, myself included, would rightfully condemn such an action.