In this impassioned piece, Joe Schwartz places the Hamas pogrom in the context of Jewish history – the attacks serving as a ‘reminder of what it is to be a Jew’ in a world not only full of murderous enemies, but one ‘full of people justifying and extenuating these atrocities, too cowardly to raise their voices loudly and clearly’.
I have been protecting myself from many of the most horrific stories, which I’m only now hearing.
Forcing a girl to call her mother to tell her she’s about to be raped and murdered, and then doing just that. Streaming the murder of an 85-year-old woman on her own Facebook page. Murdering children in front of their mothers. And on and on. And I think: Are these people all psychopaths? How can everyday people rape and torture and murder with such sadistic glee? Is this something, as so many are saying, endemic to Arab society?
And then I remember the barbarity of the Nazis toward to us, and the Cossacks before them, and the Ukrainians before them, and the Crusaders before them, and I realise that this attack is nothing but a reminder of what it is to be a Jew.
I’ve never been more terrified to be Israeli, to be enclosed in this tiny land, with my most precious possessions, my wife and perfect children, encircled by those who want to butcher them.
But it’s also never been clearer that we’ve nowhere else to go. Would it be better in my old neighbourhood in Brooklyn, full of people justifying and extenuating these atrocities, too cowardly to raise their voices loudly and clearly? In Manhattan, where I was born and raised, full of rallies celebrating the slaughter? At my Alma Mater, rotten with apologists?
This is not only Israel’s catastrophe. It is, for those listening, the alarm bell of Jewish history. The lines have once again been drawn. The Jews are again on one side, and on the other those who want to slaughter us, along with their ideological abettors. In the past it was Christian theology and race science. Today it’s post-colonial jargon.
In the past we desperately sought to survive by making arguments and ostentatious shows of virtue, in the hope that if we could only reason with our enemies, show them how decent and harmless and peace-loving we really are, they will leave their loathing for us behind. This survival strategy survives today, as Jews again plead for others to see the justice of our cause, or join the enemies of our cause in the name of conscience, deluding themselves that if only Jews were morally better we would be safe.
Dr. Leo Pinsker knew better. Jew-hatred, he explained, was not a function of Jewish misdeeds which are ‘at all events, not such great vices, not such capital crimes, as to justify the condemnation of the entire people.’ It was instead a disease, ‘a hereditary form of demonopathy,’ endemic and ineradicable. And therefore the Jews’ pathetic ‘appeal to eternal justice, fondly imagin[ing] that the appeal will have some effect’ was not only a waste of energy but dangerously delusional.
We must leave behind the habit of pleading and arguing about the justice of our cause. Not because justice doesn’t matter. Of course it matters. The Jews and the Jewish state are often unjust, and often just. But it doesn’t matter to our enemies – even though, like Korah, our enemies seek our destruction in the name of justice. This has never been clearer than today, when we are told that ‘decolonisation’ demands the rape and murder of Jewish teenagers.
The battle-lines are clear. Which side are you on?