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Shana Tova On Equal Grounds

By       Message Mark Sashine     Permalink
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On Sept, 29 was the first day of the Jewish New Year 5722. It was also the 70th anniversary of a very gruesome event-on Sept, 29, 70 years ago in my native city of Kiev, Ukraine, German occupiers and their Ukrainian   nationalistic collaborators machine- gunned in Baby Yar the first 25000 of the Jewish population of the city. Nobody knows how many Jews and other people   were killed as a whole there during the two years of occupation; some quote a number 100000, some--300000 (that would include the Jewish people and other people who were brought there from other places), but most of the experts agree that in the first two days about 50000 were killed. And before they were killed they (men, women, children, young middle-aged and elderly) had to go on their own to the place of execution through the streets of their beloved city and other citizens could watch that death march and have fun. Not many of them had fun though. That's how it was in my native city 70 years ago. That's what I found out when I was about 13. That's what another boy of 13, Anatoly Kuznetzov witnessed (down to the execution) on his own and then described in his book "Baby Yar'. He had to live his childhood with that. I had to live my childhood with that too. I had to pass that place, sometimes several times a day. I grew up watching it first being just a barren pit with a lonely stone, then becoming a rest park with an official Soviet memorial, then I left. It was and is a place of death. Even after the war, in 1961 it claimed about 2000 lives during a mudslide which happened when Kruschev and company wanted to build a stadium there.

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Now Baby Yar is designated as one of the International War Crimes' places and people can go there. Anyone can go there. Ukrainian nationalists are now in power in Ukraine and they erected monuments to their leaders but they claim now that they always loved the Jews.

I had recently downloaded to my Kindle a book of essays by David Grossman, a prominent Israeli writer who was born in Jerusalem. Grossman is a very meticulous person, a scientific mind; he is fascinated with asking and answering. Among other things he made a revelation that the Jew never had a chance to live as equal among equals with others; he was always a symbol; something abstract, something non- human if I may add to Grossman's discovery. He writes that   the   Jew is either above or below: either   he is assigned some mystical powers and all kinds of special features or he is considered a personification of everything bad, everything sinister, everything weak and mean.

There seems to be no way   for a Jew to escape either   the slimy love (that's my definition- MS) or slimy hate (also my definition). In both cases those irrational feelings are based on wrong perceptions about Jews as some kind of   exceptional   people. To illustrate that you can go back and read   the "super loving' statement about Jews by Leo Tolstoy where he calls the Jew   "a vessel of freedom' and then read   the quote by a Russian writer D, Balashov who said that "Jews cannot be held accountable   for their sins before God because they   are servants of Satan and thus are accountable only to The Devil.' How about them apples?

I think this is a key point of the puzzle we here encounter, when we here on OEN plunge into the discussion of the role of the Jews, especially when it comes to Israel and her doings. I think, many of my progressive friends are angry at us, Jews because of disappointment; at the close encounter we, the Jews   turned out not worthy of the love they (the progressives) were so eager to express. We turned out to be not worthy in their eyes. It turned out that we, the Jews were capable of all those sins, crimes and atrocities other people are capable of .It turned out that we were very much the same as everyone else. What a disappointment for   the good people around us. We definitely do not deserve their love at all. And now we rather frequently encounter the statements about "Jewish loot' or "Jewish deadly influence', or   "disproportional representation of the Jews in finance', or "Zionist control of the world', etc. etc.

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  Boy, we, good people in Europe and in the   US   are so mad at those Jews which did not fit the expectations of ours; after we killed so many of them why shouldn't they have become the personification of everything humanistic? Why it turned out they are just like us? Surely, there has to be something   special in them, otherwise why we killed them that much? So what is it? Where is it? Like one person wrote to me (no kidding),'I love all the Jews but you'. Go figure.

In my previous essay on the topic "Monologue of An Angry   Jew' (click here) I touched the subject already. I argued (or rather my doppelganger did) that the proper attitude towards Jews (as towards any group of people) is to approach them on equal grounds. This means among other things an acknowledgement of what was done to them, how it was done, who did it, the fault of yours and also, maybe the primary thing- that they do not owe you anything. They do not have to   change, only you have to. They, those who survived are exactly the same as before -- they are like you and thus you treat them the same as you would like to be treated. If you want to help them, then a) you must ask for permission and b)you must honestly present who you are and find and nurture honest people among them.   That's the only way. If you are of the Greek origin and it would feel insulting to you if someone states that   "Greeks   had just discovered   that they have to get a job'(Steven Colbert's statement fairly recently), then you must be equally vehemently hostile to statements about "Jewish rule' or "Arab terrorist ring' or whatever similar. Colbert would never say such things about black people because he would be afraid of repercussions. Black people seem to have enough power to protect themselves from insults; Greeks do not. That's what you should be hostile to; an abuse of power by bastards. You should know better. All people are your brothers and sisters; you can't be over them or below them. On equal grounds we stand.

In the particular case of discussion of the issue of the Israeli -- Palestinian conflict this   slimy love trend is most transparent. We here are Americans, take it or leave it, and even if we are more progressive than The Rebel Girl Elisabeth Flynn we still have that unfortunate virus of hubris and arrogance inside us . We dare to "discuss' other people as if they are a pack of dogs and we just have to calm them down. We love dogs but we are surely on the higher grounds than them. Why the Hell those Arabs and Jews do not embrace each other under our parental guidance and let us love them unconditionally? What an irrational bunch of Mediterranean   people they are! It is obvious that Palestinians deserve their statehood and that Israel had been an occupier for years. It is obvious that it is a Zionist plot which we have to disclose. It is obvious that Israeli society degrades into a fascist ideology and that Israel had become a rogue state (Disappointment, huh? MS). If our scum, the GOP, Christian Right and company are so active in their support of Israeli policy this alone fortifies the perception that Israelis are all doomed   in our eyes unless they wake up and follow the song "Arise, you, toilers of all nations'. Otherwise we, the good people will be even more disappointed in them Jews. Isn't that enough that we trumpet about the Holocaust on every corner and have the Diary of Ann Frank on every coffee-table? What else do they want?

David Grossman describes his country as the one in a state of perpetual seizure. I call it a molecular fear. That would mean that fear had become a driving force, that it had taken control and   a person   or a nation had succumbed to animalistic mentality. Much of that fear comes from that dreadful pit with a stone and is transferred to the Holy Land. Grossman states that peace is now necessary not as a condition but as the only remedy;   an average Israeli must experience the life under prolonged peace, so that that the nation has that positive   experience. He insists on tikkun, the repair, the overhaul and retuning of the very character of the nation and people. Now, that I have quoted all that, don't we have something similar here, in the US?

In Israel it is only one, mostly irrational but at   least   historically justified fear of annihilation. It is directed at the Arabs right now and results in violent lashing out,   paroxysms of hate on both sides, in killings and hypocrisy, in occupation with   he denial   of one happening, in racism and hysterical wave of religious purity. In here, in the US we have multiple of fears; most of which are illusory; we are afraid of the terrorists, of our bosses, of black people, of illegal aliens, of rich people, of poor people, of PETA, you name it. We thus lash at other people and other nations and because we are much more powerful than Israel, the amount of victims is much higher. So what is the connection between our fears and theirs?   There is one; in both cases people are afraid of themselves. Deep down   they   know that they failed their own expectations and they are afraid to acknowledge that to themselves.   All those people need help.

So now when we know all that it would be advisable to look at ourselves through   other people's   eyes. We could find out that our politics, propagated by the rulers of our country contributed a lot to the bleeding wound of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We can find out that through the years the INDUSTRY OF DEATH had been created when   powerful organized crime (I mean ruling groups in our country and other involved)   becomes interested in the perpetual conflict in that area.   That industry cultivated the bastards on both sides and the appropriate media SOBs here to run that deadly show forever. That industry made sure that all honest people on all sides were targeted for elimination. That industry is still in full command and it is there for money and power. It doesn't give a damn about Jews or Arabs or whoever. The amount of blood money acquired by the   groups   and individuals due to that conflict is astounding.   And all of that is done in the name of love. It is our industry; we benefit from it.

So we should always look inwards. We must remember that   those   are foreign people and we here must and should work on our side, not theirs. We must understand that we in most cases are the very obstacles those people try to avoid. Yes, Palestine deserves to be an independent state. But even Mr. Abbas mentioned that they petitioned because of despair. What is that despair based upon? I would say it is based upon the politics of the US which persistently not only orchestrates   those fruitless negotiations but denies at the same time the right of the Palestinians to be on equal grounds. Hey, we should acknowledge that Hillary surely is not that intelligent as Abbas or Netanyahu, that she personifies the US hubris and that our warmongering and chest-punching does not bring peace anywhere. It brings only death. So maybe we should start from a clean slate and consider that what those people are doing to each other is not our business and that if we want to help we better ask first? And maybe we should start that new relationship with   the following:

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-           Folks, we know your fears; here's how we deal with ours. Maybe our experience will help.

A lot of things can be done. We can campaign here for Palestinian people to be given a status of refugees if they ask for asylum here. We can and we should raise an issue of secularity, the separation of church and state as a paramount condition for the country to be called democratic. We can and we should support progressive Jewish and Moslem organizations here so that eventually they move together to the progressive cause. We must protest injustice and atrocities, push for Gaza to have full access to anyone who wants to trade with her and demand Israel to stop the blockade. We must do all that while remaining respectful and honorable friends or adversaries of the people, showing them all the time how imperfect we are and how we handle our own troubles here. Do we handle them well? I sincerely doubt that. We let our monsters roam around freely and they are in charge.   Other people see that. Our credibility is very low.

So on this Jewish New Year I say Shana Tova from a secular Jew to all the equals of mine: to Jews and Moslems, Christians and Hindus, to Whites and Blacks and Yellow and Red people, to friends and enemies on equal grounds of our goodness and badness, of our fears and our vices. May your love be honest and forgiving, may your hate be real and justified and may respect towards another human being be your guide forever. We earned it, all of us; there is only one Earth and whoever gave it to us did not make preferences. No matter where we stand on it in reality it is a perpetual fall. Remember that. There is no higher ground. We have a lot of work ahead of us.


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The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.

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