When you’re a godless lefty knife-in-the-back-of-the-nation kinda guy, holocaust jokes are kinda part of the territory. In case you’re appalled by the notion and don’t understand how Jews who themselves have lost kin in the holocaust can do that: If you live outside of Israel and have ever had the slightest feeling that the holocaust is misused and overused, stuffed down one’s throat in wrong ways with wrong lessons implied and spelled outright, I can say only this: STFU and be thankful, because you have no idea. What Israel does with the holocaust for external propaganda it does a hundredfold for internal consumption. Besides, spend time in a serious injury ward and you’ll hear the same kind of blackest humor.
That said, and acknowledging that I’ve been known to tell a black shoah joke here and there, I must insist that it is not out of delight in contrariness and shock value that I say:
We Israelis must sharply stop with the holocaust ritual.
Definitely the way it is done now. We didn’t really need the study just recently published, showing that “Voyages of Life” trips (heritage high school trips to the death camps in Poland) have adverse mental effects on the minors who take them. A cursory glance at the talkbacks on any major news site would show much the same.
The anecdotes are too numerous to list, and extend far beyond the “It’s 1938, Iran is Hitler” fixation of our Prime Minister. From the one on former Knesset Speaer Avraham Burg’s book, about a Jew who told him “I can’t take a train when I go to Europe. Being in a train there brings it all back to me” and when asked where his parents came from said “Iraq” (where Jews were not deported by train in the holocaust). And more recently, a radio host on Israel’s military station stated that to her any fair-skinned blond-haired youth has a “Hitler Jugend” look, and that “They” (speaking of Danes, the People of the lefty scum who dared assault an officer’s rifle with his face) “are born anti-semites and die anti-semites.”
The Noble Danish People, for those of who don’t know and others who need an update on the weather in this reality, are the only nation on earth to be collectively awarded a “Righteous Among the Nations” medal from Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. Quick recap: In a short national effort, spanning all walks of Danish society from the royal palace to the street sweepers, they smuggled 90% of their Jews to neighboring neutral and free Sweden in fishing boats. The country’s universities announced a week’s vacation on some pretext so that students could enlist in the effort. Of 426 Danish Jews who were captured by Nazis and transported east, 70% survived. They survived because the government of His Majesty Christian X sent food packages to Treisenstadt every week. But never mind. To some insane person on Israel’s national military station the Danes are inherently antisemites.
I too had a funny (in a scary way) experience in the same vein. I’m arguing occupation with a supposed Israeli who goes by AsoldiersMom on twitter. The chronological scope of the exchange or any other I’ve ever had with her never ever got earlier than the founding of Israel. To my memory, it was all 90s and 21st century. Suddenly I see her calling all her followers: “Join me in blocking holocaust-denier @AbuKedem !!!” She was dead serious, too.
The Holocaust, to the average Israeli nationalist, is a cart blanche. The ultimate, evergreen, self-replenishing get-out-of-jail card. “I don’t wanna hear it, I’ve had a holocaust and whatever I do is to protect me from it ever happening again, and therefore justified. If you disagree, you support the holocaust.”
From proof of a morally viable justification for creating a state at the expense of the natural rights of a native people, the holocaust has long since become a catch-all excuse for Israel’s right to be the neighborhood punching bag who suddenly shot up in height and packed on much muscle, but is still the traumatized little boy thinking only of raging vengeance for all those unhappy childhood years.
And so, from a cure to the disease that begat the holocaust (a cure conceived well in advance of that monstrous climax) the Zionist endeavor has become enthralled to a vendetta for the years of suffering. The purpose of this state is not to allow its citizens the normal whole life that they felt barred from fully experiencing in exile, but to defy, to prove we’re still around, to lash about on all sides and prove how our rage and our refusal to listen to anyone else have no limits, because our pain has no bounds and nothing can compare to it.
This is the behavior of a wounded animal. But how is it that this sort of reaction is still here? Wounds that do not kill tend, after all, to heal, right? Exactly. In order for the wound to remain open, so it can produce the same reaction of self-justifying rage, to remind that we’re still mad with pain, we need to keep invoking it. We need to brainwash people with the pain and compel high school students and their families to undertake the expensive burden of the holocaust tours, which become drunken romps (as 17 year old excursions tend to) and practice in hating gentiles and nurturing the sense that everyone wants to kill us everywhere all the time.
The actual still living victims of the wound, of course, can be left to spend their remaining days in abject poverty and squalor. So much so that when after years of outrage then-PM Olmert managed to pass a $23/month increase in the pensions of holocaust survivors, he had the nerve to describe it as a historical rectification of injustice, when in reality the sum added – and the new sum combined – wouldn’t suffice for his rectal hygiene budget. Because the sole drive we derive from the wound is not correction, healing or some universal lesson about the human condition that could ever to apply to ourselves from any other angle but the absolutely wronged party, whose one desire is revenge and whose right to execute it trumps all.
Another example from Twitter: I’m arguing with this funny right-winger journalist named Avishai Ivri who sometimes has me on his very right-wing radio show as a token lefty. And then he delivers this gem:
“Anyone who believes they’d survive a single night here without IDF soldiers armed to their teeth around their bed is indulging in sweet delusions.”
The problem with this statement is not that it is factually wrong. It’s that save for scattered exceptions, the state and its navigators have nurtured the situation necessitating this from the very start. One of the first critiques the Palestinians used to hurl at the newly-established Israel was that it was a grotesque garrison state surrounded by barbed wire. Our response has always been “Stop making us and we’ll stop. We ain’t doing this for fun.” But in light of the passing years, one has to wonder.
Zeev Jabotinski (the founder of the Israeli right-wing, in other words no lefty) gave the corpus of Zionist thought the concept of the Iron Wall. According to this, there would be a period following establishment of independence during which we would need to create and maintain an impenetrable barrier (the iron wall) which will prevent our defeated neighbors from regaining that which we took, as many times as needed to convince them that our presence is irreversible; However, even Jabotinski’s militant “you need men on that wall” vision stipulated that when that wall had achieved its purpose, we would be able to make peace with them and live as states live all over the world with their neighbors – with ties of trade, culture, tourism and mutual loathing ventilated at sporting events.
The thing is that somewhere along the line, the wall went from means to end. Even when the wall is made of space-age stainless steel with uranium titties (according to foreign sources of course…), many refuse to stop laying more and more bricks, more supports and foundations and laser beams to zap anyone even looking at the wall. Maybe that’s how the Tower of Babel was built? Maybe people built a levee against the river tide (a laudable precaution) and then just kept on building way after exceeding the height of even the most mythical killer flood waves?
Must we really, just to live here safely, hold two million people under a regime in which we see it as perfectly legitimate to use them as unwitting props in live-ammo military drills? To keep them firmly under our heels with a Stasi-like web of coerced informants numbering in the many thousands? To enjoy such obvious and overwhelming superiority over them that we can do all that, plus keep another million and a half under a quiet siege, half cut off from the world, hardly feel any consequence in our daily lives – and still treat every vain attempt by the vanquished to bite through the IDF boot at the foot stepping on their windpipe as an existential threat. Must we really live like this until further notice? Other states, with equally annoying neighbors and no such military superiority, manage to do without this and only we can’t? That way madness lays.
There’s a famous Zen story about the great teacher Tanzan, who was traveling with another monk when they come upon a pretty young girl afraid to cross an overflowing brook. Tanzan picks her up, carries her across the river and continues with his friend. The other guy after a while says “Why did you do that? You know we monks are not supposed to have any contact with women, particularly not young and beautiful ones.” Tanzan replies: I left the girl on the bank. Are you still carrying her?
Even the biggest trauma, if it is survived, needs to be left behind. This does not mean to forget. As long as there is a State of Israel (even in its impending one-state incarnation) it must include a Yad VaShem. The memory of the holocaust and its lessons must be taught, but there is a limit, and that is way back on our 6. So stand up straight, dammit, and stop acting like we just stepped out of the ghetto. We’ve grown a bit since then, and we can be proud of that.
So lets stop building the wall and start punching some windows and doorways in it, let some light and air in, maybe a neighbor now and then. It’s not healthy to live alone in the dark all the time. We do intend to actually LIVE here, right?