The Europeans may seem different to you… but to them you are exactly the same.
This was the upshot of a 2 minute video cartoon that depicts the Israeli pretty much the same way that Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, depicted the Jew. Such a video is unfortunately difficult to dismiss, because it is bound to touch a raw nerve of most, if not all Ashkenazi Jews.
But such a video must be dismissed because it misses the point. Those of us, who take the view that we need all the friends we can get, are living in a dream world. Regardless of what Israel does or doesn’t do vis a vis the Palestinians, short of self-destructing, Jews must face the fact that there will always be governments and world leaders, who for whatever reason, are upset with them – and that’s putting it mildly. Alternately, those of us who take the view of “to hell with the rest of the world” are living in a nightmare world. Regardless of what Israel does or doesn’t do vis a vis the Palestinians, short of self-destruction, Jews must face the fact that they are walking around with a chip larger than the State of Israel on their shoulder – and that’s putting it mildly.
Personally, there are far greater issues that occupy my mind and conscience than whether the Europeans view us as they did in 1940, or whether the Europeans see us in an entirely different light. I’m far more concerned with whether I, as a Jew, can look at myself in the mirror at the end of each day. And that’s no easy thing.
Exactly 12 years ago, I was in Israel, together with a non-Black Hat, but nevertheless Orthodox contingent from Brooklyn. We were in Gaza. Our tour bus had to slow down, because of a grandmother walking hand in hand with a grandchild directly in front of us. Run them down, exclaimed several on the bus. If those from Brooklyn who didn’t hesitate to offer a solution on how to deal with the two Palestinians who were in our way, yet meant us no harm, can look at themselves in the mirror at the end of each day, then in all likelihood it’s time for them to purchase a different mirror.
Looking at oneself in the mirror at the end of each day must not be synonymous with being too harsh or brusque or unforgiving with others. It was the great sage Shimon Ben Lakish who reminded us: Those who are kind to the cruel will in the end be cruel to the kind. A recent newspaper article reported that a number of young Palestinian men in their twenties, purposely attempt to illegally cross into Israel in full view of the Israeli border patrol, knowing very well that several months in an Israeli prison awaits them. But then again, those young Palestinian men also know, that in comparison to the poverty, filth and crime so very rampant in Gaza, the food, conditions and treatment that await them at a jail in Israel are at par with a 5 star hotel. Despite how Europe views Israel, perhaps it’s time for Israel to look into the mirror and realize that kid gloves are to be worn only for certain, special occasions.
It’s been close to a quarter of a century since Alan Dershowitz wrote Chutzpah. In his book, Mr. Dershowitz restates a rhetorical question endemic to the Diaspora Jew: Mah Yomru HaGoyim – what will the Goyim or Gentile say? Perhaps the time has come for us to stop looking over our shoulders to seek approval from the outside world, in this case, the Europeans. Isn’t it time that we set our sights higher, much higher and wonder what HaShem will think? And while we ponder that question, a good, hard look in the mirror would be most welcome as well.