This post first appeared on April 29th, 2002 in response to an email from an Israel-hater who insisted he didn’t have any problems with Israel and Jews. The lyrics are from Tool’s “Sober”. It was written around the end of my association with the tech blogger circle I’d known for some time. They didn’t like my pro-Israel writing during the 2001-2003 Terror War (a.k.a. the intifada).
I am just a worthless liar.
Since I first started bringing my Jewishness to the forefront on this blog, I have received emails from people who just don’t get why I think they’re anti-Semitic. They send me the ravings of neo-Nazi David Duke and don’t understand why I can’t just see what he’s talking about, just think about it for just a bit; I’ll see the logic in it. Lyndon LaRouche is not an anti-Semite, he’s telling the truth, if I would just read and understand, I will agree. Look, here’s proof of the international Jewish conspiracy; how can I not give up and admit that my fellow Jews are evil? Well, not all of them, just the ones in the conspiracy; the obvious subtext being that if I will only confess to the conspiracy, I will become one of the “good” Jews and my salvation is sure. Why I am supposed to believe them and not my own experience and research is never satisfactorily explained; I can only surmise that it is because I am blinded by my heritage.
I am just an imbecile.
What all these arguments have in common, however, is their need for validation from me–a Jew. It is somewhere between comical and pitiful; it is the verbal equivalent of theater’s two-sided mask of comedy and tragedy. But laced within the pleas are the traps: The straw man that is to be burned the moment I accept the bait. Here are the samples, in my own words: If The Jews Didn’t Run The World There Would Be No War In The Middle East (or Anywhere Else), Contrast and Compare. The Jews Are Overusing Holocaust Imagery Especially In The Current Situation, True or False. Israel Must Be A Light Unto The Nations; You Said So And We’re Holding You To It, Explain. (Corollary: Jews Must Be The Most Moral People On Earth But Muslims (Oppressed or Not) Don’t Have To Follow Rules Of Civilized Behavior At All, Summarize.) And the last, most vicious of all the anti-Semitic lies thrown my way to date: The Jews Are Bringing This All On Themselves, In 1500 Words or Less, sans the usual flamboyant Yourish dash and verve. (That last is verbatim from a recent email.)
I will only complicate you.
The global conspiracy of Jews we will just laugh about and move on.
Trust in me and fall as well.
The complaint of overuse of Holocaust terms is a much larger issue than it appears. Translated, it means: “Look, we already gave you a country, Germany paid reparations, there are Holocaust museums everywhere, can we just shut up and move on now? Goddam whiny Jews, always complaining the world is out to get them. Shut up already, willya? Take it in silence, like you did in the good old days.”
I will find a center in you.
And yet–the ones who cry the loudest about Jews overusing the Holocaust imagery have no trouble at all expropriating words like “pogrom,” which are traditionally used to describe attacks–often massacres–against Jews, generally with the complicity of the local government. The expropriation is insidious. It’s quiet. It’s stealth anti-Semitism. It is the death of a thousand cuts as, drop by drop, the blood is leeched from the victim. Expropriate enough of the terminology, and the world will only yawn the next time Jews are murdered in great numbers, as they will have been transformed from victim to monster. It has happened already, in Israel, as bomb and bullet tore to pieces hundreds of Jews sitting in cafes, celebrating Bat Mitzvahs, riding trains and buses, having Passover dinner. These deaths are regrettable, the world proclaims, but Israel must “show restraint” and not fight back. And when she does strike out in self-defense, the world rises en masse and proclaims that the Palestinians are suffering Israeli “pogroms”. The Star of David “evolves” into a swastika in pro-Palestinian posters at “peace” rallies in the Washington Mall. The Arab press draws swastikas on every Jewish political figure, almost on a daily basis. And the language of the Holocaust, bit by bit, is stolen from the victims.
I will chew it up and leave.
The most vile aspect of the complainers is their attempt to minimize the Holocaust–because that is what they are doing by insisting Jews talk about it too much. And why should Jews talk about it, hm? It’s not like I grew up on the block next to the Fried sisters, three women with numbers tattooed on their arms that you could see only in the warm weather, as they sat out on their front porches in their short-sleeved housedresses in the evenings. You could look, but not mention, because they were so traumatized by their experience in the concentration camps that they never spoke to anyone–not even their children–about it. Nor should we talk about Grandma Shirley escaping from the horrors of Poland in the 1930s. We absolutely should not mention that some who died in the Netanya Massacre were survivors of the death camps–because we talk too much about the Holocaust. It’s not like there are living Holocaust survivors, and children of Holocaust survivors in our families, after all. Why should we mention a part of recent history? It’s like thosed damned WWII vets–why can’t they just shut up about the war, it ended more than fifty years ago, we’re pals with Germany and Japan now, and the French–okay, well they still hate us and they’re still persecuting Jews, but hey, they’re French. They eat Ortolans. But we’re tired of hearing how great that generation was; it makes us feel inferior, so stop making movies like Saving Private Ryan, willya? Spielberg? Yeah, he’s part of that goddam Jewish Hollywood conspiracy, anyway. He’s in on it. Oh, and that Holocaust thing–how long do we have to feel guilty about it, anyway? Shut up. Shut up. SHUT UP!
I will work to elevate you
And Israel will be “a light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6 ). There is a widespread belief in the world that Israel must be the most moral of nations. The belief isn’t even an unspoken one; over and over again columnists and pundits and ordinary citizens go on and on about how Israel must be better than the Arab dictatorships that strive for her elimination; she must not resort to the brutal tactics of her enemies; she must use kid gloves no matter how horrendously her enemies wage war against her. It even warps her ability for self-defense. Terrorists wrap themselves in rusty nails, jagged pieces of metal, and rat poison in an attempt to maim and kill as many as possible? It’s an acceptable tactic of oppressed people, now validated by a UN Human Rights Commission statement–to use “all available means” to fight oppression. Yet Israel must try to disarm 14-year-old boys carrying pipe bombs, rather than shoot them because, after all–she’s better than that. Israel puts her soldiers at risk rather than Palestinian civilians, even though the “civilians” in Jenin helped orchestrate the trap that slaughtered 13 Israel soldiers. Because she’s better than they, you see, and yet the world seems to think the deaths of Jews are somehow less important than the deaths of those who are trying to kill them. Actually, that’s rather an old principle, one that Jews are used to hearing. We now have an answer to the dilemma; let’s move on.
just enough to bring you down.
The Jews are bringing it on themselves. It’s our fault, you see. If only we weren’t so–well, Jewish–people wouldn’t want to murder us for being–Jews. No, wait, wait–it’s the persecution complex, don’t you see? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy! Jews are afraid they’re being persecuted, and so they are persecuted, thus causing their own persecution! Why, it’s brilliant! This completely absolves the world of any blame at all for its actions against the Jews! It answers the question as to why Jews have been persecuted over the centuries, by every people extant with the exception of Native Americans and Australian aborigines and the Fiji Islanders. It’s because we were expecting it to happen, and so it happened! Puzzle solved, there’s no other explanation for centuries of persecution, this’ll do, let’s have a drink, shall we?
Trust me. –maynard james keenan
Right. We’re done here. The email has been answered.