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Jews, Indians victims of hate

I've heard this strained comparison between the European invasion of the Western Hemisphere and the founding of the modern state of Israel. It's a parallel that works only if one begins from the premise that the Jews were wrong, in which case, what the Jews did is irrelevant.

It wasn't the Jews who invaded the Americas; the ships that carried the colonists bore crosses on their sails. Five hundred years after that invasion, many of those same European countries turned their bigotry upon their Jewish populations. History does not record that Adolf Hitler (or any of his compatriots) ever said, ''The only good Jew is a dead Jew,'' but the attitude was there.

At the conclusion of World War II, with hatred and death still at their backs, the staggering, tattered remnant of European Jewry, in desperation (and encouraged by the war's victors, who were also Christians), escaped to their ancestral homeland. There, they found a reception only slightly better than that which they had left behind.

The Jews wanted to have a country in which they ruled themselves. Like the countries of Europe, which are ruled by Christian majorities, the countries surrounding Israel have Muslim majorities. But, Muslims objected to an influx of Jews; in a sense, the Muslims, too, were victims of the Nazis. Today, after decades of Israelis pleading for peace, the anti-Jewish line agrees to a democratic state as long as the Muslims outnumber the Jews, and then they'll put the matter of Jews having equal rights up to a vote.

So, in drawing an analogy between the colonial founding of the Americas and the founding of Israel, it is the Jews and the Indians who are the actual victims. Most uncomfortable with the truth of that comparison are Jew-hating Christians and Muslims. It is not my intention to suggest that all Christians or all Muslims are Jew-haters, but there is no shortage of such bigots in both cultures.

It is important to acknowledge that there are wonderful peace-loving members in all three groups, but they do not include those who would see Indians turned into whites or see Jews lose their faith or their country.

- Eliot Kalman

Athens, Ohio