There was a time not too long ago when Israel was new, and the Western world *celebrated* the birth of a scrappy survivors’ nation. There was romance in the draining of the swamps, an Extreme Makeover: Nation’s Edition element to Israel’s emergence more than 60 years ago. It used to be a curious, exotic thing to be Israeli, certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
Without delving too much into politics, I believe what has changed in the interim is not Israel’s behavior or policy – - which has always been more moral than almost any other nation on earth and yet somehow less moral than the ideal; usually well-intentioned but almost always really poorly planned, and often shoddily executed, unfortunately.
What has changed is the world’s ability (or recent inability) to separate those who seek to build and augment society from those who seek to be forever devastated, forever seething with anger over some perceived injustice…and destroy it. Nations are no different from individuals in this way. We all know people who deal with similar events in productive vs. dysfunctional ways, and what those varying reactions do to those in their family / friend / work constellations.
I have an unshakeable feeling this Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day. And that is that the day we mark the Jewish status as victims is only still significant in that we no longer are.
There are those who make every day Yom HaShoah – who seek to regularly reinforce their victimhood in the (so far very successful) attempt to mire the guilt-prone Western world in so many reverse inferiority complexes that crimes become not crimes, but expressions of frustration.
The mistreatment of nearly every minority within the Third World (women, homosexuals, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc.) becomes excused in a kind of perverse transposed racism. “They can’t help themselves – they are only savages” is what I hear in the West’s fearful silence at every crime perpetrated in the Middle East not by Israel. Israel’s crimes, of course, are racist.
This is a strange new morality in a world that feeds on Schadenfreud – the sadistic pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. (Surprise, surprise – an old German word, and very UN-Judeo-Christian – see Proverbs 24:17.) Reality TV and Paparazzi journalism are but some of the symptoms of a renewed Gladiator culture in which watching people – often people more successful than the masses – fail or fall is somehow profoundly entertaining and soothing to the public ego.
This is destruction of the collective soul, plain and simple.
And this is a society – a world that has reversed empathy at its core and instead tries to keep the other down – that is ripe to sympathize with those who celebrate victimhood instead of those who seek to reverse it.
This is a path George Lucas warned against many years ago, and then J.K. Rowling after him. The Dark Side and the Dark Lord, fascists and nihilists and jihadists: they all have one thing in common. They prey on people’s fear of actually confronting hard things on the road to goodness and greatness, sometimes with true moral issues on the way, and instead settle for tearing down what others build, all the while crying foul and claiming the moral upper hand.
We are living in a world in which the unbelievable rising from the ashes kind of success that Israel enjoys has become a crime. It is not that Israel has never done anything wrong – it has. But if you ask most of Israel’s critics, it emerges that Israel, no matter what, can never do anything right. Plain and simple: Its crime is that it is the Victim who Lived Well and Learned to Thrive.
When we say Never Again, I don’t believe it at all from the point of view of the world. I think it could happen again in a minute, to any of several minorities in the Third World, who are actually butchered fairly regularly with zero intervention from a West obsessed with apartment buildings in Jerusalem.
I only believe Never Again as pertains to the Jews because Israel says so. And at least in the literature, Harry and Luke win. And there are no more Gladiators coming out of Rome, but there are several million people who regularly read Proverbs.
I have to believe.
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