Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Burging Bridges

Flipping through the channels aimlessly after another insane episode of Lost, I stumble across a Charlie Rose interview with Avrum Burg. They are discussing Burg's somewhat-new book, The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise from Its Ashes. Intrigued I stop to watch the exchange...and am somewhat less-than-shocked to see that Burg was arguing that Jews (and Israelis) today are still plagued by an obsession with the Holocaust that colors our everyday lives. His original title for the book was "Hitler Won" because in his opinion we are consuming ourselves still with hatred and paranoia...that we over-inflate every threat to Jews and Israel and that every enemy of Jews is elevated to Hitler status.

I'm transcribing what was said in this interview so I may be off on the exact quote but I think he just said that "everyday the Jews kill Hitler again and everyday Hitler kills us again." This basically sums up the gist of his book apparently, as he feels it's time we "got over it" and moved on with our lives.

Just get over it...


His main complaint is that Israelis (and Jews) use the Holocaust as an excuse to commit "atrocities" in places like Gaza and the West Bank. He relates a conversation he had with a friend about the recent act of Jewish self-defense better known as Cast Lead. Burg argued with his friend that Israel was acting in similar fashion to the Germans during WWII. The Jews, claims Burg, have been targeted for annihilation so many times over the years that we must be sensitive to ALL attempts to extinguish a race. Like our old friends Vera and Peter, Burg believes that "Never Again" applies to all races...not just Jews.

To which his mythical friend...portrayed as a voice for all chicken-hawk Israelis...responds, "but Avrum, there are no gas chambers in Gaza..." Burg and Charlie Rose chuckle at this obvious silliness. To think, that a people could be so wrapped up in semantics that they cannot even see the similarities between Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel JUST because the methods of destruction are different! Oh the hilarity!

The conversation then turns to Iran and the nuclear threat it will soon pose to Israel Burg states that in order for Israel to get what it wants RE: an American attack on Iran, Obama should require Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. And why do we need to sell out the Jews of Judea and Samaria? Well you see there can be no attack on Iran without peace in Iraq. There can be no peace in Iraq without Syrian cooperation. There can be no Syrian cooperation without Israel conceding the Golan Heights which of course can't happen (for some unexplained leap of faith)

without ALSO creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank. We can go in to a discussion of the flawed logic in this wrong he is, but even if he were right, the fact that this former highly decorated Israeli paratrooper subscribes to the notion that the Jews are at the root of all of the Middle East's problems which by extension is the root of the world's problems speaks to the very root of the Jewish condition.

First of all, neither of Burg's parents were exactly in the Holocaust. His mother was already living in Hebron and his father left Germany in 1939. While his father suffered great discrimination and went through the awful experience of Kristalnacht - he was never face-to-face with the aforementioned gas chamber that Burg and Rose were chuckling over. With all due respect to Yosef Burg who I'm sure went through a significant amount of trauma - he at least had the courage, ability and foresight to leave the Nazi hell behind before it was too late. Others, like my grandmother, grandfather and millions upon millions of other Jews and "undesirables" were not so fortunate.

You have a lot of nerve Mr. Burg, to tell people who are still alive today, still have flashbacks to the screams from the gas chambers that they should just "get over it". My grandfather died over a decade ago but until the day he died he was tormented with flashbacks that he was back in the camps and that the Nazis were after him. He would jump out of bed in the middle of the night from nightmares about his brothers, parents and the wife and daughter he had before the war that disappeared into the fire of Auschwitz.

Tell that to my grandmother, also a Holocaust survivor. A woman who lost her ENTIRE family and can barely even remember her life before the camps. A woman who used to jump at the sound of barking dogs because it reminded her of the german shepherds that the Nazis would torment her with. A woman who never even leaves her apartment anymore because she is so consumed with sadness and pain. Should she just "get over it" as well Avrum?

But he's not talking to my grandparents is he? He's talking to my parents and me and other Jews and Israelis that cling to these painful memories and simply cannot move on. Well excuse me if I have a hard time just forgetting the fact that had I been in my grandfather's shoes I too would have been beaten within an inch of my life, starved, taken from my land, etc etc. If I have a hard time just forgetting that had they succeeded in killing him or my grandmother I would not be alive today. If I have a hard time viewing an attack on my grandparents as an attack on me as well.

But even so - maybe it is time I myself, personally, stopped holding on to this. Maybe the world really has moved beyond this "genetic Judaism" and we can finally put this racism behind us.

Sure Avrum...just like after the Inquisition, the Crusades, the exiles and all that. Luckily, after the enlightened, progressive communists deposed the backward Czars and their Cossack friends the pogroms in Russia stopped and there was never anymore discrimination or action against Jews in the Soviet Union. Right Avrum????

And SURELY the poor innocent Palestinians of Gaza do not deserve the war against them just like the Jews of Europe didn't deserve the war against them. Right? Because unlike the Jews of Europe, it's not like the Palestinians were blowing up school buses, committing axe attacks against children, firing rockets at civilian population centers, declaring death on anyone who sells land to the infidels or keeping each other from getting medical attention due to political disputes like the Jews of Germany were, those vile instigators. Right Avrum???!?!?!

SURELY the evil Zionist oppressors would NEVER allow innocent Palestinians (who by the way voted overwhelmingly for a faction that was founded on the premise that it would destroy Israel and the Jews, called the Nazis oops I mean Hamas) into Israel to receive equal medical treatment that Israeli citizens receive, train Palestinian doctors, or allow Israel-hating, terrorist sympathizing Palestinians to serve in the Parliament...the same way the Nazis had lots of Jews in the Reichstag right before those sneaky weasels burned it down...................

Maybe it's more than just the lack of gas chambers in Gaza that separates this situation from the genocide committed against us...maybe it's a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SITUATION where one has NOTHING to do with the other!

Which finally brings us to the root of the issue here. And it's the same problem that plagues every "progressive" Jew today. Denial of the past is the surest way to move ahead into the future. If we burn our connections, our bridges to the past we can stop remembering our oppression at the hands of others and finally take our place as a "normal" nation. We can be just like everyone else, oblivious of the dark ages the world is desperately trying to plunge itself into again if we just STOP THINKING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO US. Just sit around drinking wine and eating cheese and wait for it all to come crashing down around us.

Unfortunately though it's not about the Jewish state of mind. You see the greatest lesson of the Holocaust was that this attempt to "move on" does absolutely NOTHING for us when a group of animals is determined to ruin our day. It was precisely the progressive intellectuals of Germany who wanted to put the exiles and catastrophes behind them that were among the first to be turned to ash. Hitler's victims weren't just the Jews who sat around on Tisha B'Av mourning the destruction of the Temple - he went after the secular Jews just the same as those who lived in shtetls! And it's the same today and it will always be the same.

Today there are people that are right now plotting new ways to kill you and me. Right now as you are reading this, there is some insane person, most likely in the Middle East sitting with his buddies and trying to come up with the best way to put an end to your life. And it won't matter if you're progressive, liberal, conservative, moderate, secular, Israeli, American, Orthodox, Conservative, Ashkenaz, Sephard or WHATEVER. It won't matter if you send your children on March of the Living or if Israel knocks down Yad Vashem as Burg suggests. The Holocaust lives on because the attempted PERPETRATORS of the NEXT Holocaust live on!

So while it's bad enough to burn a bridge to your past, your heritage and your culture (no matter how checkered or painful it may be, it is still a part of who you are) once you've crossed the much worse is it to burn the bridge while you are still on it! This is a true ostrich mentality that it seems the entire world around me has adopted as its accepted policy.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
--Sir Winston Churchill

It's a cliche yes, but for good reason.

What makes it even MORE brazen is that in a society like which Mr. Burg describes he would be excommunicated...lynched even for the absolutely INCENDIARY suggestions he is making. And yet as this surprising New York Times article from December of last year points out...

what is perhaps most interesting of all is that Mr. Burg continues to play a public role in Israel. He is invited to speak to young people, he writes occasional opinion columns, and he is greeted warmly, even embraced, in this city’s cafes.

And why is this? Why ISN'T Burg treated like the traitor he sounds like, in the very country he has taken to thrashing on a regular basis? Because Jews need to stick together, precisely because of events like the Holocaust and the other horrors that have befallen our people before and after it. As the article continues:

This may be because, despite it all, Avrum Burg is family. And whether he likes it or not, Israelis look out for family.

The most ironic part of it all is that the very thing that Burg is denouncing, this obsession with the past that binds us all together is PRECISELY the thing that allows him to keep preaching without fear or reprisal.

Our past is what binds us together. Our past is what has held us together through it all. And no matter what we say or how we act, our past, if ignored will also be our future.


Jewie Mc said...

OK, side note: Why the Assasin's Creed image?

RonMossad said...

He's doing a leap of faith! Read the text don't just stare at the pretty pictures! For the love of God.

Jewie Mc said...

Oh sue me for skimming first. Ass.

Anonymous said...

So believe that there are NO "poor innocent Palestinians" who have watched their father or mother get beaten or shot because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Are they not allowd to also say "Never Again"
Have you not watched or listend to the stories from returning IDF soldiers who spoke of violence against innocents?
Yes, there are EVIL people in this world who still want to wipe us from the face of the earth. Those people need to be dealt with. I just don't to create more because like has been to us, we villify ALL Arabs, ALL Palestinians (is that even a correct term), ALL who live in Gaza (though most voted for Hamas, many did so as a rejection of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority).
Let's dial down the rhetoric or all sides and attempt to find some common ground for PEACE!
I'll probably get flamed here by those who believe that there can be no peace, only the total annihilation of one group or the other.

RonMossad said...

Hello Mr./Mrs. Anonymous and welcome to the show - don't worry there will be no flaming here because you didn't flame would be different if you started throwing around words like "ZioFascist pig" and other colorful terms.

However, I believe you missed my point. I never said there were "no innocent Palestinians" - that's ridiculous. Even if I was such a monster that I didn't believe there weren't any innocent civilians (which I'm not) there are still children and babies that are hurt by war and that is truly a tragedy. Nor do I believe that every IDF soldier is an angel. Some Israelis are monsters and some soldiers in the heat of battle have snapped and done some terrible things.

That being said - you cannot judge a nation by the actions of individuals. Rather, you must look at the actions of the nation as a whole.

The Palestinian government (which was WILLINGLY voted into office by the vast majority of Palestinian civilians) is committed to the following:

Suicide bombings and rocket attacks that DELIBERATELY target Israeli civilians.

Summary executions with no trial of PALESTINIAN civilians.

Kidnapping of Israeli soldiers from SOVEREIGN Israeli territory.

etc. etc. etc.

But don't take my word for all about it in the Hamas Charter

Also I invite you to read a previous blog I wrote detailing why accusations like these against Israel are mostly baseless.

I also invite you to read this entry about Israeli soldiers, this entry on the Palestinian government executing Palestinian civilians and hijacking aid convoys and the second half of this entry deals with "peace activists" who espouse the same kinds of anti-war/anti-Israel views I always hear everywhere I go.

So you see, it's not that ALL Palestinians are evil. Just Hamas. Like in Germany, not all Germans wanted to murder Jews...but enough did that the Nazis seized power and brought us the Holocaust. Hamas = Nazis. They're already in power. And the people that put them into power are the people you're defending...

Sorry if I reserve my sympathy for the people who actually deserve it.

Skinnee Jay said...

It's me again!

I agree here. I don't think we should dwell in the past, and let it decide our future. We should, however, remember what happened. Don't let the past control your future. Learn from the past to control the future.

Also, comparing Israel to the Nazis=Newspeak.

Julia said...

Wow, this post is laughable on so many levels.

The truth is, Israel DOES hide behind the Nazi holocaust (notice how I don't capitalize "holocaust") every single time their policies and actions come under legitimate criticism. You would not believe how many times I've heard the excuse "before you criticize Israel for murdering Palestinian children or confiscating Palestinian lands in the West Bank to build their illegal settlements, remember what happened to the Jews in the holocaust." That's a bullshit argument and it solves nothing. If what Israel was doing was truly justified, you wouldn't have to hide behind your history. You would be able to make an ethical justification for what it is. This just proves to me that all of you Israel supporters CAN'T justify what Israel is doing. See you!

RonMossad said...

Hi Julia welcome and thanks for stopping by. I immensely enjoyed reading your comment...but was somewhat confused by what you wrote. I hope you'll help me clear it all up.

1. When you say "laughable on so many levels" and then only make one point, what you really meant to write was "laughable on one level" - right? Because you threatened to make several points and then only made one. And when you said "laughable" you actually meant "not-laughable" because your post really wasn't very funny at all. Right? I just want to be sure because I'm puzzled as to why you would phrase your statement that way.

2. Did you read the post before you responded? I ask this in all seriousness because your quote was nowhere to be found anywhere in the post, or anywhere on my site at all for that matter. If you have a question for the author of that quote I invite you to please ask that person about it, not me because I have never used that quote nor would I ever. I also have a hard time believing that any Israel supporter would use the phrase "confiscating Palestinian lands", "murdering Palestinian children" or "illegal settlements". My guess is the author of that quote is yourself, in which case you have quite an interesting debate ahead of you.

3. I DID notice how you did not capitalize the Holocaust, that was very clever of you. I'm assuming you're making one of two statements:

a) This attempted genocide against the Jews in WWII is just one of many "holocausts" that have happened throughout history.

or b) The holocaust against the Jews was overblown and exagerated and doesn't deserve the respect of a capital H.

For your sake I'm assuming it's option A. In which case I'm truly blown away by your astonishing grasp of history. Thank you so much for reminding all of us that horrible events have befallen the Armenians, Congolese, Sri Lankans and Darfurians among others. If not for you I would have thought that world history only mattered when it was Jewish history.

Tell me though, how much time do you (or the news for that matter) devote to these ongoing holocausts that have claimed exponentially more lives than any Israeli action of self-defense? Maybe you should worry about the hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and Darfurians or millions of Congolese before a few thousand Palestinians.

4. If you would like to read about some ethical justifications for Israeli actions I invite you to read any of a number of articles I have written on the topic. Some of my recent favorites:

What to say what to say Part II - dispelling the myths of Palestinian propaganda

Does not compute - on the hypocrisy of never-ending Israel-criticism

Triumph - on the need for a Jewish homeland

and finally

Nakba - on the greatest enemy of Palestinian statehood...the Arabs

I look forward to your response to these articles (just a small sample of what I've written on the topic). I'll be here, anxiously awaiting your return.

See you soon!