Israel Turns 60: A Tale of Three Davids
AND GRANDDADDY SNELLENBERG
In many respects, I am a mirror image of David No. 1 -- my grandfather, David Snellenberg.
Like me, he was as bald as a billiard ball, smoked an occasional cigar, questioned authority, enjoyed baseball, had a deep love of
and was a student of its history. He introduced David No. 2 as a young boy to journalism and as a result every one of the thousands of my bylines in newspapers from America to Philadelphia to San Francisco during a long career included my middle initial -- "D" as in David -- in his honor. Tokyo
He and I had something else in common: A deep ambivalence about David No. 3 -- that would be the Star of David, or the nation of
Granddaddy came by this view honestly. You'll have to judge for yourself whether I do.
He arrived in
a penniless German Jew at the turn of the 20th century. He mastered English and started a small clothing store, which grew into a largish department store. He lost everything in the Great Depression and then started another small clothing store. America
But Granddaddy's life was about giving back and not making a buck.
He had copies of the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights printed at his own expense and would distribute them to civics classes at high schools.
When the scale of the humanitarian crisis involving German Jews became known in the run-up to World War II, he led an effort to raise relief funds from the local Jewish, Protestant and Episcopalian communities and shook down some wealthy industrialist friends for donations, as well. (The local Roman Catholic diocese was not moved.)
He helped make arrangements to bring a Jewish teenager to the
whose parents became victims of Hitler's Holocaust. The lad went on to graduate at the top of his class and became a renowned hematologist. U.S.
But Granddaddy Snellenberg believed that Jews were citizens of the world who, messianic visions notwithstanding, did not need their own state.
He also anticipated that the creation of
would result in bloodshed and grief, although he went to his reward before the vicious cycle of wars began that continue to this day. Israel* * * * *As celebrates the 60th anniversary of its birth this month, I state unequivocally that I would sacrifice my life to defend my Jewish brothers and sisters. But (and you knew that there was going to be a "but") once the bloody intransigence of Hezbollah and Hamas are duly noted, the anniversary also will be an especially bittersweet one because of the Jewish neoconservatives who hijacked the George Bush presidency, and that needs to be hammered home. Israel
In polite company, Granddaddy would used the German word zudringlich to describe the likes of Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. That means "meddlesome." In less polite company, he would have used one of a number of favorite profanities, including whatever sh*theads mean in his mother tongue.
I am sure that Granddaddy would agree with me that these neocons have been the worst thing to happen to
in a very long time because their fantasy of creating democratic, which is to say pro-Israel and therefore pro-Western states, in the Israel Middle Eastwas predicated on bellicosity and built on a willful ignorance of Arab and Muslim history.
That has been so abundantly apparent in
, the first state where the neocons meddled. The result has been an unqualified disaster that has taken many thousands of lives, been a sucking chest wound on the American economy and made Israel less safe, less able to leverage its interests, and the region as a whole less stable. Iraq
The timing of the Perle-Wolfowitz wet dream, coupled with the ham-handedness of Secretary of State Rice, could not have been worse for
, and with friends like the Bush White House, who needs enemies? Israel