The belligerency, violence, and heartless pugnacity that we see as Israeli foreign policy is really the living shadow of the Holocaust and thousands of years of brutal persecution. This history comes alive as “Never Again”. Fear has combined with power and what results is the horror of the current catastrophe playing out in the Middle East. This is not just current events. It is the living history of fear and violence for what we perpetrate upon another we, ultimately, perpetrate upon ourselves.
This is the underlying philosophy of the State of Israel and of many Jews living today.
“Never again” explains the indifference Israel has for world opinion as it brazenly crushes aid ships as they seek to help those suffering in Gaza. Never mind the possibility that these same ships might harbor some Hamas supporters – the much bigger point is the one that pugnacious Israel makes times again.
We were a victim once – but never again will be a victim.
When the Nazis first entered the Soviet Union (1941), one of their primary tasks was to exterminate the very substantial Jewish population that now lived in areas occupied by the German army. German SS and Einsatzgruppen (organized death squads) would organize the local Jewish population by demanding that they gather in the town center with all of the belongings. Dutifully, the Jews would walk sadly to the town square with their many suitcases awaiting their German escorts. This unresisting story was told in town after town. Always the same. Always ordered and always lethal.
They would be ordered to leave their luggage in the town square, form a line (guarded by SS and attack dogs), and march to a enormous ditch dug out to provide space for the thousands of bodies that would soon fill it. The Jews were ordered to strip down walk to the edge of the ditch, often clutching their children and babies, and sheepishly await execution, which was sure, brutal, and fast.
At one such “operation” conducted in the city of Kiev, nearly 50,000 Jews were summarily massacred in just this way (this is now called Babi Yar, the location of the vast ditch that was filled to overflowing).
And like any person or group that has been repeatedly and brutally victimized (and I really don’t know if there is any other group in world history as brutally victimized as the jews), their psychological universe is filled with potential killers. Although they may not say it, many, many Jews truly believe that they live in a world that would greatly prefer to be without them. The Jews are the perennial “other”, the christ killer, the one who isn’t like us, the one who brazenly survives through our tolerance.
This is the living shadow of the German Holocaust and of the long history of the Jews.
Jews are reminded how non-Jews have become quick to minimize the holocaust. It happened so long time ago, get over it, you use the holocaust to validate your own cruelty and barbarism.
But to many, if not most Jews, the holocaust is alive and well – even today. It lives in the unspoken hostility that so many people, groups, and nations have toward Israel and the Jews. It lives in 3000 years of Jewish history. It lives between the lines spoken by fair and just “experts in the field” as they hold court on the flagrant repressive and racist brutality that now is the State of Israel. It is often not easy for a Jew, living with her history of isolation and prejudice, to tell where sound intentions end and masked anti-semitism begins.
Jews must always live on the precipice – the precipice of the hatred of those who would prefer living in a world without jews and the precipice created by Jews themselves as they reasonably project the most terrifying fears in a world that no longer really cares. If anything, the world has now turned solidly against Israel.
Now the show of hate and violence is on the other foot.
For a jew, there can be no enduring victory in this world. Every nation in the world possesses a legitimacy that eludes Israel. Only the Jewish state can be doubted and not only by the Muslim states that surround it, but by Jews themselves. Only the Jews question the whole purpose and origins of Israel. Perhaps, as Helen Thomas raged, Israel is just one huge mistake. The world would be so much better off were it not for Israel.
This is what happens when true victims gain power. They install the religion of “never again”. This is a world of chaos – where threats exist everywhere – where the next holocaust is planned in every back room – where no one can truly be trusted.
Although I was born and raised in a Jewish home, I am truly an atheist. I am sickened and angered by the terrible legacy of religious strife. But I know how confusing and painful it is to be a Jew in this day and age. And the reason I’m spewing all of this is get YOU to understand as well. Throw yourself into 3000 years of Jewish history – usually living in countries that gave you few if any freedoms, where massacres of innocents by the many thousands was often routine, where you are hated and reviled, where you are not allowed to own your own home, where you are only allowed to take jobs that are considered loathsome, where your own history has been wiped clean by ethnic cleansing. The extermination of the Jews has occurred in Jerusalem, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Hungary, England, Spain, Portugal, Egypt, Iraq, and Arabia (I’m sure I left out a number of countries).
This explains the abject self-destructiveness and aggression of Israeli foreign policy today. The underlying philosophy of “never again” is what makes all of this make sense, even if it doesn’t make sense. Israel would seem to have no choice but to be and embrace the role as pariah. No matter how much legitimacy the nation and the people might be entitled to possess, their history and their fear make it all unattainable. The Jews unwittingly sustain their own victimhood even when they would appear to have the power to make it, for once, different. But the power is as much illusion as it is real. It is, truly, a two-edged sword that cuts its victims, but cuts its user even more.
What we might see as hate and excessive violence emanating from the state of Israel is really just fear – fear of Jewish history continuing on as it has for 3000 years. It’s saying we are truly alone in this world. We can only trust ourselves and we can’t even trust ourselves for our tendency for self-destruction is so evolved and well-established.