I’m not going to pretend that I know what it might personally feel like to be a part of a multigenerational ethnic group of individuals whose greatest and oldest crime was their refusal to submit to being the chattel of a larger, more organized and more brutal ethnic group. The crimes that transpired after such a gauntlet was thrown down likely fed one upon another, much like we see transpiring within and outside of today’s African American communities. Slaveowners do not like the idea of having to release a lifestyle made more comfortable, if not wholly possible, by having an endless supply of expendable labor. Particularly after a generation or two of this largesse, the inherent power differential between slave and slaveowner must become an intoxicant that induces the delusion of actual, rather than enforced, superiority.
What I do know, from personal experience, is that human beings are inherently judgmental, arrogant, ignorant and self-appointed. The affront of our presence on this planet has been totalled and, to the say the least, we have demonstrated our willingness to become a devastating burden to all species, including our own. If we survive these most recent environmental and demographic challenges it will not be because we deserve to survive, it will be by some as yet unknown resource of mercy held captive within an uncanonized group of saints operating in secret and on our behalf.
In short, I share in all of the shortcomings of humanity and I now cringe when I hear the hackneyed cliché, “but I’m only human.” Frankly, that is no longer a reasonable excuse I, nor anyone of my species, can afford to hide behind. Yes, it is always convenient to have a caveat or an excuse. But, just like slaves, eventually our excuses become genetically and emotionally superior to their creator as we learn to pick and choose among them, fitting them to our particular purpose. Also like slaves, our excuses one day rise up to inform us not only of our good works in the field of eugenics, but also of their willingness to show us precisely where we continue to fall short in our now obsolete existence.
And now, the hard part. It has been difficult for me to come to these conclusions on my own because, whether by birth or by spirit, I have often felt a kinship with the Jewish people, identifying myself with their struggles, their tribulations and their revelations. Were these feelings and concerns of mine based on only one or two aberrant matters of fact, I could brush them aside and continue living in my Twentieth-century inspired denial. But, “a thousand injuries of Forunato I have born, but when ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.” Replace Poe’s word, “injuries,” with, “insults,” and “insult” with “atrocity,” and that fairly well summarizes the status of my feelings with respect to the present government of Israel and its dubious foundation.
There is no excuse for the behavior of the Israeli government and its treatment of Palestinians – Arab, Muslim, Christian, whomever. My mind can not help but find as relevant the very foundation of the state of Israel built upon the emaciated and charred bodies of 6 million of their fellows -- by their own hand – as reason enough to explain their presently despicable behavior. One simply can not build moral agency into a state that was built by the lies and betrayals of one Jew against another. Atoning for such a travesty perhaps speaks to the suffocating efficiency with which Israel has often dealt with its detractors, post-Balfour. For if the truth were fully vetted and widely known concerning Israel’s shamefully dishonest beginnings, no tears could be shed for the founders of Israel, nor for their ridiculously harsh treatment of their fellow human beings at present. If contemporary Christian Fundamentalists seek for evidence of a supposed apocalyptic Rapture, it is right under their self-righteous noses. They need look no further than the six million Jews the founders of Israel persuaded to walk into the Nazi ovens that some rich, affluent Jewish blood might be saved. One supposes that the four of five million other innocents so consumed were simply gravy to the main course of European Jewry.
There can be no bigger case of antisemitism against anyone than the case the Jews make against themselves. Had the Jews actually taken a stand against the Nazis as they did in the Warsaw ghettos, the odds are quite good that nothing like the six million Jews who were helplessly, hopelessly slaughtered would have ever occurred. Imagine an army of just 10% of that number – 600,000 – amassed against the Nazi war machine from within itself. Imagine Hitler having to contend with such an uprising in addition to waging a two-front war. Imagine if we stopped thinking of the lost six million and start considering as lost the whole ten million human beings who were wiped off the planet in what may have been a fit of Parkinson’s inspired whimsy and frustration.
The earliest writings of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth came to us no sooner than forty years after his crucifixion. Perhaps tales of the so-called Rapture should be affixed by proclamation to the Nazi Holocaust, thereby relegating the present company of Fundamentalists as, “left behind,” and all of us in our proper places, seated in a hell of our own manufacture – as if ordained by a God I certainly do not understand. Truly nothing in death could ever be hotter than the twisted and warped imaginations of human beings set ablaze by the cruelty, betrayal and abandonment of their fellow humans.
And so we come full circle to the place where I feel somewhat restored and resolved: Jews, as much as they would like to hold themselves as above and beyond the rest of humanity, are actually so much like humanity that we could indulge their cultural sadomasochism, free from boredom or monotony, for another thousand years. But, in the end, we could only say that the Jews are human, just like us, only more so. Being advanced and precocious for one’s age as an individual can sometimes be a signal that trauma has indeed taken place; being the first culture to have matured to the point where humanness can no longer be taken lightly, regarded as quaint or considered harmless should not be a signal to us that we have stumbled upon “just another” precocious culture. Rather that the culture we have stumbled upon in Judea has experienced its humanity truly, found it as vacuous as I have, and taken its findings seriously.