To be fair I understand that many Americans live in something akin to a religious bubble. They are home-schooled as children and therefore prevented from interacting with children other than those which belong to the same religious community and family and then they go to religious colleges or universities where they mix with the same sort of people and their indoctrination (brain-washing in essence) continues.
And that is why the internet is so important. Despite the pressure of community, family, religion or education system to conform it is possible to 'meet' people who are other and who think differently. This is as important for an Indian say, trapped within the caste system as it is for an American trapped within a religious system. More important in fact because American military power represents the greatest danger to world peace and the use of that power is sourced in the power of the American people.
When Ignorance and bigotry, and fundamentalist religion in the US is deeply immersed in prejudice and bigotry, is behind such power then Aggression becomes dangerous indeed.
There will be few who have the innate common sense and wisdom, mixed with enormous amounts of courage and determination, who will be able to break free. But asking questions is a good beginning.
You said: Yes, I believe that people have the right to live in freedom.
Then why do you not support freedom for Palestinians? The Palestinians live under occupation and continued colonisation - the UN, human rights groups and international law all say that is wrong. If you believe in freedom then you have to say it is wrong also.
You said: Do you?
Absolutely but I believe in freedom for everyone, not selectively. The Palestinians either get their own state by Israel negotiating legitimate borders for itself or Israel does what the US and other colonisers have done and creates one state with equal rights for all regardless of religion.
If you believe in freedom as you say then you would support what I support.
You said: Because if you do, you should stop disparaging the only free nation in the Middle East.
I am not disparaging Israel, I, like many Israelis and those who believe in justice am simply telling the truth about it. And it is not the only free nation in the Middle East - it is a theocracy because it is a religious state which discriminates on the basis of religion. It also maintains one of the most murderous and vicious occupations in modern history.
How can Israel be a free nation when only followers of Judaism have full rights? Or do you believe that Apartheid South Africa was a free nation, that Chinese occupied Tibet is a free nation?
In terms of freedom there is far more freedom and justice in Lebanon - more of a democracy than Israel - than there is in Israel.
You said: If you look up freedom measurement databases such as Freedom House or Polity IV, you will see that every single Muslim country in the Middle East is described as a dictatorship--oppressive of its citizens and their God-given freedoms.
Yes, but what about Lebanon? That is in the Middle East and it isn't a Muslim country as in an Islamic theocracy, and it doesn't occupy, colonise or have separate roads for separate religions.
And don't you think it is disingenuous to compare Israel, which claims to be a democracy, to non-democratic nations? That's like saying the US is not as bad as China while still trying to claim the moral high road.
Israel is judged by me and others by the standard it has set itself. As a democracy it is an utter failure. Compare it to all other democracies and Israel appears as the tyranny that it is. While it is true the US also occupies other nations illegally and immorally and seeks to colonise economically, it does not seek to colonise and dispossess in material terms as Israel does. As a democracy, compared to democracies Israel is an utter failure. As a tyranny, compared to other tyrannies it is amongst the worst but perhaps not the worst.
You said: Israel stands out like a sore thumb as the ONLY democracy in the region,
So you believe that one can be a democracy while refusing full rights to all citizens?
You said: the ONLY state that guarantees freedom and equal protection under the law to its citizens,
Read Gush Shalom, B'Tselem, Peace Now if you want to know the real truth about what Israel says it is as part of its propaganda and what it really is.
You said: the ONLY state that guarantees freedom of religion.
Then why are christian and Islamic sacred places consistently destroyed? Why are Christians not allowed to build churches wherever they please? Why are Muslims not allowed to build new mosques? They can in other democracies why not Israel.
And if there is freedom of religion why do followers of Judaism get superior rights and why do Israeli ministers frequently talk about cleansing Israel of non-Jews? I don't know where you get your information but it has nothing to do with the reality which is Israel. Fox News perhaps but that is one of the world's biggest propaganda news sites which would explain your errors.
You said: Although there probably are some Israelis that are anti-Arab
Have you been to Israel? I have, more than once and the racism permeates the society like a disease. Again, read Israeli human rights and peace groups - read Haaretz the Israeli newspaper and you will soon find the depth of Israeli anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bigotry.
You said:(there are unfortunately racists in every society), and although there are undoubtedly civilian casualties as a result of the war being fought between radical Islamist terrorists and the state of Israel,
How casually we can dismiss the deaths of those deemed 'other.' The war of which you speak is a war of resistance against colonisation. No different to the war the American Indians fought against their colonisers. The fighters in this war are not radical Islamic terrorists but Palestinian freedom fighters - who, if you mean what you say in supporting freedom, you should be supporting. I refer you again to Gush Shalom, B'Tselem, Peace Now and Haaretz - all Israeli.
You said: Palestinians in Israel are freer in the Jewish state than they would be, or are, in Muslim states. Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan all deny citizenship to the Palestinians living within their borders. Polls show that 82% of Arab Israelis would prefer to live in Israel over any Muslim country in the world.
Have you been to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine or Israel? If you had you could not say what you say. Then again if you were on an Israeli organised propaganda tour you could.
The Palestinian refugees who live in other countries do sometimes become citizens but most wait to return to their homes in Occupied Palestine and what is called Israel. Many have keys to their homes which have been in their family for hundreds of years.
You might like to post a link to your poll on Arab Israelis. I suspect most of them would fall about laughing. Again, read the Israeli Human Rights Groups and access something other than Israeli propaganda.
And how do you explain, given how terrible life supposedly is outside of Israel why hundreds of thousands of Iranian Jews consistently refuse pleas from Israel to emigrate, preferring to remain in Iran?
You said: And here's another question: if "Jewish" is not an ethnic group, how is it possible that there are secular Jews?
There aren't secular Jews. Judaism considers such terminology ridiculous. You can be a lapsed Jew just as you can be a lapsed Catholic but you are either Jewish, whether practising or not, or you are not. My great-grandfather dropped Judaism so I am not Jewish - his siblings who kept it have Jewish descendants.
If you drop a religion then you are no longer Jewish or Christian or Muslim. It's not a race, it's a religion. The reason why the term secular Jew has come into parlance is because Israelis and their supporters actually know that religions don't have homelands so they are trying to pretend that being Jewish is an ethnic group on the basis that race might count where religion doesn't.
The other reason for it is that Israel as a racist state, really does believe anyone who has Jewish ancestors is superior to Arabs so if you can find someone - I would have qualified - with one Jewish ancestor, back to great-great-grandparents, even if they are now atheists, then they count as Jews. This is why millions of Russians with one Jewish ancestor were able to emigrate to Israel without question to boost the numbers to counter the indigenous Palestinians.
You said: Why is Antisemitism, being anti-Jew, a type of racism?
'Anti-semitism' is an outdated term. The fact is that Arabs and Palestinians are Semites - some followers of Judaism had Semitic ancestors, most, because of conversion don't. Most Israelis are not of Semitic stock but European or American (which is mainly European).
Many of Germany's Jews were Semitic, hence the term anti-semitic arising from Nazi Germany. Russian, English, Indian, African, Greek, Italian and other Jews are largely not Semitic.
You said: The term "Jewish" refers to both people who practice Judaism AND the ethnic Jew descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Any scholar of Judaism or Near Eastern history will tell you this.
No, any scholar of Judaism or Near eastern history won't tell you this, only those with an agenda. Read Shlomo Sand and The Invention of the Jewish people - sorry, an Israeli again but I figure you may as well start with the people at the core of the problem.
The Abraham, Isaac and Jacob connection is religious dogma. It has no historical veracity nor any legal one - The Bible holds no weight in terms of content in any court of law>
It is true that Judaism as a religion talks about Jews as a people but this is common to many religions - in essence it is about seeing yourself as special, as chosen, as superior - utterly racist of course and bigoted and has no place in a modern, civilized world.
The casual way you talk about casualties prompted me to post one more link - which you probably may not access but I post it all the same.
You said: and although there are undoubtedly civilian casualties as a result of the war being fought.....
Do you really have no idea that nearly seven thousand Palestinians have been killed in this war so far compared to about 1,000 Israelis? But those figures are only for recent decades - the number of Palestinians killed since 1947 from the war waged by Zionist armies to establish Israel on Palestinian land until today is around 1.5million.
Remembering of course the Palestinians have died fighting for freedom from occupation and colonisation and Israelis have died fighting to maintain occupation and colonisation.
Knowledge is power and for Americans, given the fact that it is American money which keeps Israel afloat and which supports its occupation and colonisation and its attacks on its indigenous people and its neighbours then you should have a solid understanding of just what your money is paying for.
Understanding the reality of Israel will also help Americans to understand why America is so hated by so many and why the majority of people in the world consider the US and Israel to be the greatest threats to world peace today.
It will also help you to understand, why, if Israel does attack Iran, or the US does attack Iran, the world at large will blame you and not the Iranians and world rage will be directed at the US as well as Israel.