Denial is a psychological defense mechanism against an uncomfortable Truth. It is not necessarily conscious, called up intentionally. Yet it serves that purpose, to protect against uncomfortable, sometimes terrible, facts. In 2015, addressing an audience of mostly Jewish members of Congress, White House staff and journalists at his Rosh HaShana dinner Vice President Biden warned: "You understand in your bones that no matter how hospitable, no matter how consequential, no matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved [Jews] are in the United States...there’s only one guarantee... Israel."
Powerful words by a Catholic politician. How is it that most Jews living in America today (and yesteryear) choose not to appreciate the implications of the Holocaust, known also as, The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. What is it us that we follow in the footsteps of German Jewry insisting their fatherland “exceptional” until the truth was unavoidable; that we in the United States also claim America exceptional in Diaspora history? That Jews are aware “in your bones” that antisemitism is as present in the United States as Europe is reflected in community silence that greets events questioning Jewish loyalty. We were silent at the 1985 arrest of Jonathan and Anne Pollard charged with spying for Israel, a fear-fed silence intensified by more than a year of administration inspired media coverage: the “dual-loyalty” canard. Silence again during the year-long House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) “investigating” “Hollywood Jews” supposedly identified with communism. In the end the Committee was unable to justify the expenditure of time and money and turned their attention to more substantive matters of state. And silence again until late into the Holocaust regarding Roosevelt Administration “neutrality” while one-in-three Jews alive were murdered in Europe’s death factories. That silence was at least understandable given the extreme level of antisemitism Jews living in the United States also faced during the Holocaust decade. Most Jews are unlikely aware of the history of persecution our ancestors experienced over the centuries, a Western search for a solution to the Jewish Problem. But we should, at least, remember the events leading up to the Holocaust. Does it really require a Catholic politician to provide the warning we should by ourselves already “feel in our bones”? That this phenomenon, wishing away the lessons, is not “unconscious” is clearly expressed in the alarm Jews at all levels of society experienced over the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Nothing could inspire memories of Nazi Germany than American white supremacists chanting “Jews will not replace us!” and, direct reference to Nazi Germany, “Blood and Soil”.
And so Jews in the United States follow in the footsteps of our German community who in the 1930’s, also declared their fatherland’s “exceptionality.” Denial describes a pattern feeding our own victim-hood. Memory is short and reinforced by current appearance and experience. Charlottesville for a moment symbolized Munich. And soon relative quiet returned, carrying with it a sense of “normalcy,” a return to somnolence.So Vice President Biden, perhaps prophetically, may have anticipated the upsurge of white nationalism attendant with President Trump’s populist campaign for the White House. That Jews even now would ignore his warning, dismiss Charlottesville as just another and atypical up-tick in antisemitism: It is this that describes future Jewish victimhood: Jewish Denial.