Jews are aboriginals and the Christians love us.

Last night I went to a support Israel rally at the Plaza des Nations, the spot with the chair. Unlike the side-events inside organized by the UN Watch and Anne Bayefsky’s Eye on the UN/Hudson Institute, which have each escalated the rhetoric of demonization, this rally is a paragon of “positive messaging”. The message control is tight-no home made signs here. Nothing about Muslim terrorists. It’s all about wanting peace and democracy (versus, you know, them.) But I’m almost grateful. Nobody tries to whip up the crowd, a la Dershowitz, by declaring Palestinians Nazis and terrorists.

Everyone is crowded at the front, but when you stand in the back of the plaza, which isn’t that big, the place looks empty. I actually suddenly share  a sense of communal anxiety for the Jews in the crowd (well, at least half the crowd, the others are Christians, it turns out). It’s a metaphor for living in Europe. There really aren’t that many of us left and it is easy to feel threatened and tiny, so we project bigger and scarier. My Jewish friend who lives here has been telling me about the anti-Jewish comments she has heard from the white Swiss- the Jews control this, we do that.

I get there just as former Canadian attorney general Irwin Cotler is speaking. He has been ubiquitous at the conference. I am rather astounded by what he is saying. Jews are aboriginal people. This is the first time I’ve heard this formulation, though it makes sense to try it at a conference where indigenous people are pressing for their rights. But I’m not sure the people in the crowd really go for it. Here is what he has written about the topic:

For Israel, rooted in the Jewish people, as an Abrahamic people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal religion, the first of the Abrahamic religions.

IN A WORD, the Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language – Hebrew – and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel, as it did 3,500 years ago.
Israel, then, is the aboriginal homeland of the Jewish people across space and time. It is not just a homeland for the Jewish people, a place of refuge, asylum and protection. It is the homeland of the Jewish people, wherever and whenever it may be; and its birth certificate originates in its inception as a First Nation, and not simply, however important, in its United Nations international birth certificate.

The State of Israel, then, as a political and juridical entity, overlaps with the “aboriginal Jewish homeland”; it is, in international legal terms, a successor state to the biblical, or aboriginal, Jewish kingdoms. But that aboriginal homeland is also claimed by another people, the Palestinian/Arab people, who see it as their place and patrimony.
At some point, someone on the stage thanks the Christians who have come to support Israel. The cheer from Christians in the crowd is much bigger than I expect, and I realize there are Christians everywhere.
On the tram afterwards, I start talking to an adorably sweet older woman wearing one of the Israel democracy t-shirts. Turns out she is one of the Christians.
Ann is from the German speaking section of Switzerland, and she found out about the rally through the Messianic Jewish congregation that works with her church. (Messianic Jews believe in Jesus. Their status is, to say the least, highly controversial in the organized Jewish community. In fact, the Presbyterian Church was attacked for anti-Semitism when they funded an evangelical Messianic congregation at the same time that they announced they’d look into divesting from the Israeli occupation.)
I asked her if she thought the Jews would find Jesus. “Why yes, it’s in the bible.”
Do you think Jews and Muslims or Christians and Muslims can live together? “No, they worship a different God.”
Why did you come? “We Christians have not been good in the past, and the media is very biased against the Jews, Israel and all, so we should support them.” If the media is biased, where do you get your information about the Middle East? “The bible. Oh, and Christian Embassy.” The thing is, I love this woman. She’s all smiles and sweetness.  I don’t doubt her sincerity for a moment.
Her English is not very good, so she probably didn’t hear one of the speakers from the podium talk about how great gay rights are in Israel. I wonder how long this odd relationship can go on. I guess, they figure, until the Messiah returns. Then, of course, there’s an apocalypse, and we Jews will either get incinerated or convert.

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