Wednesday, May 7, 2014

They Should Have Given Us Bavaria!

Holocaust Remembrance Day has just passed and May 14th will be the 66th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel and all that I am able to say about this is how much it saddens me to be a Jew in this world.

When thinking of my grandparents, I could begin with the Russian Czar and the Cossacks. There is nothing left now of the huge Jewish community that flourished there, the Pale of Settlement, the shtetls where rural poverty was a fact of life along with a tribal culture where folks took care of each other. These villages were, for the most part, dirt poor and isolated. They had a daily life that now can only be glimpsed in a few rare photographs and paintings. Shtetl residents were ghettoized from the regional Russian and Polish populations by religion and culture but, most of all, by language.

In Western as well as Eastern Europe, Yiddish, the language of the Ashkenazi-Jewish people is now dead. In the colonialist state of Israel, the founders and survivors chose to resurrect Hebrew, a long-extinct biblical language whose correct pronunciation and inflection was totally unknown. They improvised and now Hebrew is a living tongue.

When it comes to Europe, the fact is that Hitler did what he set out to do. The results were just not immediate. European, Jewish culture has been obliterated. Not only do American secular and religious Jews no longer have a homeland, we are a dying breed. Folks like me in the USA are dinosaurs. In a couple of generations, like so many Native tribes, we will cease to exist. Specifically, people with two Jewish parents, raised in Jewish neighborhoods, not necessarily by choice but by covenant, will not have a square in our multi-ethnic, American tapestry.

I believe that this is a great loss, for Jews specifically, as well as for Americans in general.

Yes, the religion will continue to flourish as Jews intermarry and assimilate. Some rebellious couples will take up Judaism as a faith but, those who are ethnically identified/identifiable by descent, by cultural style, inflection, humor, introspection and a wide range of neuroses will go the way of so many other endangered species.

And now there is Israel, the most distressing component of the equation. The whole “land without a people for a people without a land,” is so obscene. The forced displacement and collective punishment of the Palestinian people by imperialist expansion, the bulldozing of homes, the checkpoints, the walls…I could go on and on but in this forum I know I don’t have to. I know you know.

It seems so unfair that a people so brutalized by history would now have to be victimized even further by those fighting oppression. But the atrocities of Israel are real. How childish it seems to state that I wish the whole thing never happened, and by that I mean the WHOLE thing starting with the persecution of Jews in all countries of the world.

But given that horrendous genocide transpired, they should have, at least, given us Bavaria!

Did you know that many of the laws used against the Palestinians involved in revolt against the occupiers bear an astounding resemblance to the Nuremberg Laws? To me, that says it all. The child whose parents beat him grows up to beat his own child. There is no excuse for it, but it happens all the time. And it breaks my heart.