Monday, May 17, 2010

Thoughts On the Holocaust and Holocausts

I was flipping through James Michener’s The Source the other day, and if you have read it you might remember there is a conversation between two characters which is written in a screenplay format. And I read one passage that really stood out to me, so I’m reposting it here:
ISRAEL: Or until some new international tragedy like Nazi Germany…
AMERICAN: The world will never again allow such a thing like that to happen.
ISRAELI: It will happen before your first son is born. South America? South Africa? Quebec?
Now remember, this was written in 1965. How unusually prescient it is, right? And I now think of this every time someone tell me that the Holocaust is “history” and that Jews should stop “living in the past.” In other words, a less antagonistic version of Holocaust cynicism.

In one respect, they are right. The Holocaust is history, and in America there is no dark gloom hanging over the Jewish people. In Israel there certainly is, but there is also the 4th most powerful military in the world standing between them and their adversaries. That being said, if there is one thing history has taught us, it is how quickly things can change.

The truth is in the world today there very much are genocides happening, and the world is not doing anything to stop it. For most of us, that is simply a sobering thought. For the Jews, it is a familiar thought. Not so far away from Israel, millions of people have been killed in Darfur. And let me remind those of you who aren’t aware: The victims in Darfur are Muslims who are being killed by their own government, principally made up of Arabs, who are also their fellow Muslims.  They haven’t been at war against the Darfurians, and the Darfurians aren’t even Jews.

So let’s put it all together. We have:
1. A genocide of Africans going on right now, in the 21st century.
2. An attempted genocide of Jews 60 years ago.
3. Arab nations and groups that declare their willingness to “slaughter the Jews” if given half a chance.

What does this come to? Don’t accuse me of paranoia: All of the above are very real and actually exist in our world of today. I will be the first to admit that given Israel’s strength, the real-world likelihood of such a thing actually happening is small. But some consider the fact that there is a low likelihood as being tantamount to there being no threat at all.

All nations and peoples approach the world from a framework of what they have experienced before. Israel’s enemies certainly do. And to expect the Jews to simply ignore the lessons they have learned is insulting and short-sighted. Considering the nature of the world and the area in which they have, I think the Jews have the right to be on guard.

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