by Sarah Honig
Fate inserts assorted unexpected subplots into our lives. Some months ago, a reader from
A relative of his, a philosophy professor who currently teaches in
It didn't end there. My friend wondered whether double standards, demonization and delegitimization of
The Jewish collective is clearly held liable for the conduct of individuals. It matters nothing that publicly traded companies like Lehman's and Goldman's haven't been necessarily or exclusively Jewish-run for years. Non-Jewish names like Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch or Morgan Stanley obviously trigger no hostility.
My friend recently attended a family birthday party where one of the guests, a retired German judge, opined that "you can't make peace with a Jew."
Plain and simple with no reservations or elucidations. His flat-out ruling went unchallenged by any of the celebrants. It was axiomatic.
Those among us who still strive to pretend that Jew-revulsion isn't a formative factor out there may dismiss these as irrelevant anecdotes. But they aren't. They are crucial facts of life which many Israelis and Jews prefer to repress.
It's more comforting to make believe that we don't face bottomless blind hate which we cannot moderate. It's distressing to recognize that underlying animus (even when camouflaged and rationalized) poisons minds and tilts the scales forcefully against
It's disagreeable to realize that de rigueur Israel-bashing has unleashed latent predilections which, despite their transitory apparent abeyance, festered beneath the floorboards of human decency. They aren't really suppressed even in a country like
Admitting that the cards are stacked against us, that there's little we can do to make ourselves better liked, goes against the ancient Jewish instinct to ingratiate ourselves. We want the world to appreciate the real us – virtuous, liberal and altruistic to a fault.
It's reassuring to assume, even if misguidedly, that everything hinges on our improving our behavior. That imparts a semblance of control. The reverse awareness, even though eminently accurate, is agonizing. It implies lack of control.
It tells us that even our best conduct can't change the way we're perceived. We cannot face-lift our image. We can explain ourselves till we're hoarse and employ the most ostensibly effective and sophisticated PR, but it won't make an iota of a difference. We'll end up convincing ourselves, preaching to the choir and not getting so much as a polite hearing abroad.
THAT'S WHAT happened in the Gaza-bound flotilla's case. We couldn't emerge smelling sweet no matter how things were handled. Our hankering after good press is essentially what emboldened the Mavi Marmara terrorists to resort to homicidal violence against our commandos. We willingly fell for the illusory façade of "aid ships" ferrying pacifist, "Kumbaya"-crooning philanthropists.
We fell for their mendacious mantras because we desired to show restraint and to regard the Mavi Marmara's Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood passengers in the same amiable light that their propaganda radiated throughout Europe and in
Refusing to look unpleasant truth squarely in the face, we sent naval units to a violent encounter armed with paint-ball guns. The shipboard Hamas-boosters promised nothing but passive noncompliance and we chose not to remember that even when Arabs blow up fast food eateries and lob rockets into a sleepy outlying town, they manipulatively resort to "human rights" and "resistance" terminology.
If anything, we were guilty only of wishful thinking. It's therefore especially galling that Israel's most ardent promoters of such wishful thinking and self-deception are our loudest Monday-morning quarterbacks, the ones who most vehemently let us know (in retrospect, of course) which moves the government should have made. Their hindsight, as always, is remarkably flawless.
But self-flagellation is fundamentally futile. There is no way
It can be monstrous.
Yet Pius IX managed to blame the Jews for the outrage. He maintained the parents could have Edgardo back instantly, if only they would convert. When they refused, Pius cleansed his hands: Obstinate Jews inflict pain on themselves. All the Mortaras had to do was give in.
The identical message resonates today. Obstinate
My late father used to say: "We will be condemned whatever we do, but to be condemned for nothing is stupid. We ought to at least earn the inevitable censure, deserve it just a bit."
The sooner we come to grips with this reality – unlovely as it is – the better for our national psyche. We have to do what's good for us and not view ourselves through lenses tinted by the prevalent likes of the above-mentioned professor and judge.
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