OF DUES AND DEVILS
Genug! Enough! I just came across a review of the book THE DEVIL THAT NEVER DIES by Political Science, Social Studies professor turned author, Daniel Goldhagen. No offense to Professor Goldhagen, but I have no intention whatsoever of reading the book. I don’t doubt for a moment that Professor Goldhagen has done an excellent job at studying, interpreting and analyzing a “cancer” otherwise known as anti-Semitism, that has afflicted people as long as there have been Jews in this world. But unlike any carcinoma, melanoma, lymphoma or any other cancer, there is no chemotherapy, radiation, pharmaceuticals or any other treatment that will have any effect on anti-Semitism. When it comes to the cancer of anti-Semitism, it’s not a matter of predisposed genes or cells or tissue. The best Oncologist in the world must admit defeat and helplessness when confronted with the cancer of anti-Semitism. As far as I’m concerned, there is simply no treatment, much less cure for the cancer of anti-Semitism. Education? By all means!
Social interaction? Gezunterheit! Please understand however, that most, if not all anti-Semites are resistant as well as immune to education, social interaction, kumbaya….
Not all that long ago, I was called upon to exorcise a Dybbuk (I’m not joking). Although I provided the “afflicted” individual with an appropriate incantation, I must tell you that dealing with a Dybbuk is kid’s stuff in comparison to dealing with the Devil of anti-Semitism. So rather than permit ourselves to be bedeviled by THE DEVIL THAT NEVER DIES,perhaps there is something we can do to respond to the “cancer” in society.
The title of Professor Goldhagen’s book says it all. Since anti-Semitism is a Devil never dies; because anti-Semitism seems to be resistant to all efforts on our part to eradicate it, perhaps our best way of dealing with anti-Semitism is to simply ignore it. Ranters and ravers crave audiences. While anti-Semites may not even be aware of it, they get their jollies whenever we show them that their antics have touched a raw nerve. Why then must we provide anti-Semites with an audience? Why must we show anti-Semites that they succeeded in rousing our ire? If there is no way to thwart their anti-Semitism, there is an excellent way to rain on the parade of an anti-Semite. Provided anti-Semites have not vandalized, or (G-d forbid) caused any bodily harm, ignore them! It’s the worst they could wish for.
Isn’t it time, that as a people we Jews grew up? Isn’t it time, that we Jews finally realized that our purpose here in this world is not necessarily to be liked. Our purpose here in this world is to serve as a beacon to the nations, to show other nations the proper way to deal with the human strengths and weaknesses, as well as to serve as an example of how to make the best use possible of the many resources which this world has to offer without abusing those resources? If in the process, we gain the respect, admiration and love of other nations, Harei Zeh Meshubach, behold, it is praiseworthy. If in the process, we do not gain the respect, admiration and love of others, then we stay the course of helping to improve the world we live in nevertheless.
Life is choices. True, as Jews we do not choose to be despised by anti-Semites. We do however choose how to react when anti-Semitism rears its ugly head. We can expend all of our energies by writing letters to the editor, staging protests and marches. But because we are dealing with emotions rather than intellect, as far as I’m concerned we are spinning our wheels. If we really want to confront anti-Semitism, then why not use our energies to deepen our knowledge, increase our involvement and strengthen our Jewish observance. The former response plays into the hands of the anti-Semite; the latter response gives us the upper hand because the last thing the anti-Semite wants to see is either more Jews or more “Jewishness”. By becoming better educated, more involved and increasingly observant, not only are we refusing to play into the hands of the anti-Semite and give the Devil his due, but we might very well be on the way to emotionally bankrupting the Devil.