Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My Friends Used to be Jewish

Norma Zager

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history...." -- George Bernard Shaw

Anti-Semitism is as old as the world; hatred as old as man. When the anti-Semitism is by Jews toward Jews, it exceeds egregious. Recently, I heard one of the saddest comments my poor ears have ever endured while dining with friends. The name of a woman in the community was mentioned, unfamiliar to most. Further probing initiated the following comment from one of the diners: "You know the type. She's one of those far-right pro-Israel people."

When dining with ultra liberals, I have learned to keep my opinions to myself. Showing any mercy for those who do not share their leftist views would be unthinkable. They truly believe anyone who does not agree with their politics should just shut up and cease to exist. I have actually heard these insane words from them.

Had I been sitting at a meeting of the Aryan Nation, I would not have blinked an eye. The fact I was in Beverly Hills, at a table filled with wealthy, influential Jewish women, caused not only a blink, but a major spasm. I looked around, waiting for someone other than myself to call her on the remark. Silence. The sadness of this unfortunate statement was compounded by the indifference of my fellow diners.

I long ago learned to keep silent when faced with such unreasonable opinions. I have been called too many names and learned the hard way how inflexible arrogance can be. I let her words pass, yet it disturbs me on so many levels.

Were this an isolated incident, it would not be so tragic. Unfortunately, it is all too common now. These Israel-bashers behave like vicious, bitter parents who have turned their back on a child who refuses to comply with the rules.

I can certainly understand there are Jewish people who disagree over political philosophy, and it is the right of every American, whatever religion, to do so. But to berate another Jew for being pro-Israel is so far beyond my comprehension that words fail me.

Well, not entirely.

Sometimes, I am tempted to give young people a pass concerning Israel because we are too many generations passed the Holocaust for institutional memory. When the anti-Semitic Jew is someone who doesn't fall into that category, I am thrown off balance.

My grandmother was a poor widow in Europe living in a small town that is now part of Germany. My father and his sister lived in a house with dirt floors and ate when there was food. Very rarely was there enough to go around. My grandmother went without so her children could eat. Seeing pictures of her frail frame, I am never left with the impression vanity was the cause of her slimness. I knew it was because she sacrificed and struggled to keep her family alive and fed, as every mother would.

She was a kind soul, without a mean bone in her body, and she scraped together enough money to send her son to America just before World War II. She dreamed she and my innocent aunt would join him when there was enough money. My father worked to send money home for his mother and sister, and relatives already in New York contributed. Soon, unfortunately, Hitler rendered the expenditure unnecessary.

My aunt and grandmother died in the camps. I never met them, but their spirits call to me from the grave to protect future generations and ensure that "never again" means "never again."

I understand Israel is not perfect. No country is, but governments are people, and, well, I think we all know the perfection level of the human species falls short.

Sometimes, I am tempted to believe Jews bemoan their fate too much. Perhaps it is enough already with the Nazis and Hitler and constant concentration camp reminders. People do remember and you need not remind them, at least not Jews. Then, I hear a comment like the one I heard recently from a Jewish person, and I realize it is not the Gentiles who need reminding.

Christians embrace the belief that blessing Israel will bring blessings, and freely do so with their hearts and their money. The destruction of the Jewish people will not come from without, but from within, by those who believe it is sophisticated or a sign of intelligence to berate Israel and its defenders.

These elitist intellectuals behave as the Jews in Germany in the 1930s. Even as they boarded the trucks and trains for the camps, they believed they were above peril in German hands.

For those who doubt the threat, may I remind the Jewish population that things were once good for our people in pre-war Germany, pre-Khomeini Iran, modern day Venezuela, France and Sweden?

I pray the day never comes when anyone else like my sweet, beloved grandmother or aunt will be viciously slaughtered for reasons beyond human understanding. Yet, when I see with my own eyes how many of my friends used to be Jewish, I am filled with sorrow and fear.

Castigating a fellow Jew for pro-Israel views is an insult to the memory of every mother who had her child ripped from her arms and thrown into an oven; or the 22 schoolchildren who died in 1974 in the Ma'alot massacre at the hands of Arab terrorists. Such remarks reverberate throughout the graves of the dead, and the memories of those still alive and suffering simply because they are Jews.

Even sadder are Jewish people who behave like the haters that condemned them to death throughout the centuries. Jews outcast fellow Jews, and it is not happening in Nazi Germany or Iran. Those "pro-Israel people" have been forced underground and are afraid to speak for fear of repercussion. How can this be happening in the richest Jewish communities in America?

It is obvious more reminders are necessary and there is a greater risk than once perceived.

There is a wonderful story about a Jewish man on his knees praying and thanking God in a concentration camp. His friend asked what he could possibly be thanking God for and he answered, "I am thanking God I am not like them."

May God protect Israel and its people and most importantly, may he protect them from the kind of Jewish mentality I witnessed not long ago.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I sent the following article to my male cousin, Henry, and this is what I got in return; am sending it to show you how far ignorance can equate itself with the phrase coined by Bibi Netanyahu for Rahm Emanuel - self hating Jew: ***THE SOURCE OF OBAMA'S ANTI-ISRAEL POLICY by E.W. Jackson Sr. ***(Quote) This is absolute trash. Where do you get it from and why do you subscribe to such utter nonsense.
You and I have had several discussions about this. The problem is that Israel has to find ways to make peace and live with her neighbours. It is about time that a US president such as Obama has the guts and has begun to criticise Israel’s recent arrogant behaviour in the region. I hope he succeeds on convincing Israel to see the light for longer term peace and stability although it seems he is failing already. You should wish him well and join together in believing instead that peace and harmony can evolve easier through mutual respect and hope. (End quote)