“anti-Semitism is alive, active and virulent,,, after more than half a century of Holocaust education, interfaith dialogue, [and] United Nations'' declarations…”
Until now focus has been on Christendom’s efforts to solve its two-thousand year-long Jewish Problem. Tens of millions of Jews died or were not conceived the result of those efforts. And this over the centuries before six million were murdered in the Holocaust. In the past Diaspora Jewry could do little more than remain in place, more or less trapped in a generally hostile world. Forbidden from carrying arms, barred from owning land to even feed themselves; forbidden trades with which to support themselves: life was a continuous threat of persecution, expulsion and forced conversion and murder.
Were Christendom’s most recent “solution” to its Jewish Problem, the extermination of all Jews everywhere, the only alternative available to Jews today then this volume would be just a self-advertising vanity in historical futility. In the movie Jacob the Liar the possessor of the only ghetto radio, assures his fellow Jews that rescue is just around the corner. Since, to “Jacob” the end was nigh, resistance futile: why worry the Jews?
And then the Nazis arrived.
Perhaps the ghetto residents would have chosen to remain in place knowing their fate. But at least they should have had the choice!
Much time, effort and money have been expended by Jews and our institutions on educating Christians away from antisemitism. Anti-Defamation League efforts in the United States were discussed earlier. German Jewry’s faith in their neighbors serves as confirmation of Leon Pinsker that the deep-rootedness of the image of the Jew in the Western psyche is just too ingrained, that education as response is futile.
More recently UK Chief Rabbi Sacks warned:
“Let me state the point as simply as I can: anti-Semitism is alive, active and virulent,,, after more than half a century of Holocaust education, interfaith dialogue, [and] United Nations'' declarations…”
Pinsker understood this when he wrote Autoemancipation (ebook available here) in 1882:
“Prejudice or instinctive ill-will is not moved by rational argument, however forceful and clear.”
The reason that antisemitism continues “alive, active and virulent” as Rabbi Sacks put it, despite intense educative efforts. Antisemitism is embedded in the very sinews of western civilization. It is a historical and cultural inheritance beyond the reach of “reason.” This is the message from the shared intensity of antisemitism in both Europe and America in the decades before, during and following the Holocaust. It is proven again with each ADL survey demonstrating the persistence of antisemitism year after year. Its impact is described by a January 2010 Jewish Agency report warning that,
“Anti-Semitic incidents in western Europe peaked to a level not seen since the close of World War II…”
Five months later Moshe Kantor, head of the European Jewish Congress warned that “European Jew''s safety worst since WWII.”
Do we assume that today’s upsurge in antisemitism, described as the similar to that existing in pre-Holocaust Europe, is just another round of that which many times in the past were “false alarms”? What assurance that “next time” won’t rather approximate the early 20th Century; that “next time won’t instead result in the next and final Final Solution? Are we obligated to continue our role as victim whenever our host society falls into deep depression, blames the Jews justified by our representation in gospel as having “killed Jesus”? Is the promise of “acceptance,” the possibility of “exceptionality” worth the price of Kidush HaShem to Christianity’s Jewish Problem?
The next three chapters critique Israel as Jewish homeland and Zionist refuge. What may, in these chapters, appear critical are meant to point to issues that portray Israel in a negative light in the Diaspora. Israel is unique in the world as having been created with a single purpose: Long before the Holocaust demonstrated just how dangerous, Zionism recognized the need for a Jewish state to serve as refuge to the Diaspora. As Israel approaches its 70th anniversary it is natural that its residents, having fought wars and even today facing menace should have developed a “national” élan, an “Israeli” identity. As Israelis it is easy to forget that our present inhabitants are not merely citizens typical of most countries but, as beneficiaries of Zionism’s sacrifices, caretakers of our National Home. Israelis are the trustees of the state for our entire Jewish People.
In the final chapter alternatives to Diaspora martyrdom will be suggested as possibilities towards a Jewish Solution to Christendom’s Jewish Problem. Israel, of course, already exists for this purpose. But what if the entire Diaspora were to seek refuge in Israel? Could Israel even accommodate so large a population influx, and might there be other options available as temporary haven? And so other possibilities will also be considered for temporary and longer-term refuge.
In the end the survival of the Jewish people rests upon personal decision: it is for each Jew to decide, and decision demands action.
Victimhood or survival, martyrdom or life?