Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Caleb Anderson: If Jews first ... then who next?

I was moved this morning when I read a Breaking Views article titled "When we bring Hitler back ..." by Kara Isaac.  

In this article, Kara describes the antisemitic threats directed at her son in a Wellington schoolyard.  She comments as follows.

Turns out that today in some playgrounds, some kids, if they think your kid is a “little Jew” hold the view that Hitler had the right idea. And he's not alone. He was just young enough and foolish enough to say the quiet part out loud and more bluntly than most. 
Kara comments on the hypocrisy of many of those who rail in favour of those who recently enacted their anti-Semitic hatred with unimaginable barbarity.

Many of the people who insist that words they don't like are literal violence and that selling cigarettes is systemic genocide, also believe that when it comes to Jews and Israeli civilians that: violence is merely resistance, torture is liberation, burning families alive in their homes is an act of decolonization, and that a terrorist organization with literal genocide in its charter is just misunderstood.

Further she comments: 

All up roughly 900,000 Jews are estimated to have been expelled, fled, or immigrated from Muslim-majority African and Middle Eastern countries leaving their homes and assets behind. Of these approximately 650,000 ended up in Israel.

So since you're out marching, Chloe and Ricardo, where are your placards and slogans for the right of return for them and their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the homelands they were expelled from or fled? For them to get their houses and their assets back?

A sobering read indeed.  Thank you Kara for putting pen to paper.

The hatred of Jews is known as the "long hatred".  This hatred is difficult to understand given that the history of the Jews is arguably no more or less spectacular or despicable than any other ethnic group.  As a person of partly Jewish descent, sufficiently so to have been permanently "dealt to" by Hitler had I lived in Germany at the time, I have often pondered why part of me is so maligned while other parts of me are not, as if they were not commingled.   

You cannot be of Jewish descent and not wonder why your forbears were dealt with so brutally, for so long, and so universally, it seems.  Even when clear evidence of Nazi brutality in the nineteen thirties and forties was infiltrating the West the response was muted.

Some things we do know.

That the Jews were generally successful at what they did.  Disenfranchised, barred from many trades, and isolated in many ways, they succeeded regardless.  Disproportionately represented at the highest levels of banking, medicine, the arts, and academia, hugely successful in any trade to which they were given admission.

Secondly, we know that the Jews were not as easily integrated into their host states as others.  They tended to hold to their religious convictions even when this was not to their advantage, and even in the face of the fiercest persecution.  Their non-conformity was often viewed as potentially destabilizing.

Perhaps these are two, possibly among numerous, reasons why Jews have endured the "long hatred".

I recently read an article highlighting the mass departure of Jews from Europe to the United States in the face of growing Islamism.  The Jews are reading the signs and getting out.

But we know hatred is not an atomized entity, it is a disease that fuels a thirst for more. And scapegoating yields untold opportunities to those ever keen to point their finger (as evidenced by second-rate German academics turning on their eminent Jewish colleagues in the nineteen thirties).

The following information was recently sent to all New Zealand schools by the Ministry of Education:

Ramadan  i nformation  webinar  for  early  learning  and  school  staff

Practising Muslims will be observing the holy month of Ramadan from mid-March to mid-April in 2024.

We will be hosting opt-in webinars for early learning and school staff, including an introduction to Ramadan, and guidelines for supporting students, learners, colleagues and whānau who are observing Ramadan.

Antisemitism breaking out in New Zealand schoolyards  ...  who would have thought?  

I would suggest that, rather than learning about Ramadan, our students, and the population at large, would be better served by studying the Holocaust.

The Jews are a litmus warning to those whose faith marks them as different.  If Jews first ... then who next?  

Caleb Anderson, a graduate history, economics, psychotherapy and theology, has been an educator for over thirty years, twenty as a school principal

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You said: .... we know that the Jews were not as easily integrated into their host states as others. They tended to hold to their religious convictions even when this was not to their advantage, and even in the face of the fiercest persecution. Jews are very divided in the Jewish state of Israel! There are major battles over reposnibilities of Israeli orthodox and non-orthodox citizens going on now. Many of the past elections were triggered because of this issue. Sunday, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews took to the streets to express anger over attempts by Israel's political leaders to force them to serve in the military.