Monday, July 30, 2012

A post Tisha B'Av rant

Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the Right Honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.
Benjamin Disraeli

I have a confession to make. I’m a talkback reader. Sometimes, I read articles just so I can read the talkbacks. Usually, they make me laugh. People know they can say absolutely anything in a talkback because it’s anonymous. So yesterday, when a friend posted an article on Facebook about a Canadian sports broadcaster who stated that he thought there should have been a moment of silence in memory of the Israeli athletes murdered in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, I skimmed over the article (which was lovely) and got straight to the talkbacks. They were not so lovely. Many of the talkbackers made comments such as: “What about the 1000s of Palestinians the Israelis murder every year?” or If you occupy someone else’s country, what can you expect?” etc. etc. I would like to say I was stunned at the remarks (from Canadians no less!) but sad to say I was not particularly surprised at the vitriol.

Several years ago, I read the English translation of Sholom Aleichem’s The Bloody Hoax (Der Blutiger Shpas). Originally published in 1913, it was only translated into English in 1991. It tells the story of two young graduates – one Jewish and one not – from a Gymnasia in a large Russian city who discuss their chances of finding work. The Jewish character claims that he will not be able to find work, despite his high-class education because he is a Jew. The non-Jew and hero of the story, Popov, assures his friend that this cannot be true. With a good education, even a Jew can get a good job. To prove his point, the two friends change places; for a year the Jew pretends to be non-Jew and Popov the non-Jew goes to live in a shtetl for a year and passes himself off as a Jew. This was much harder to do that he had assumed.
Sholom Aleichem wrote this story in response to the Mendel Beilis trial. Mendel Beilis, a Ukranian Jew, was accused and arrested for the murder of a Christian child in 1911. His accusers maintained that he had murdered the child for its blood to make matzot for the upcoming Passover holiday. After spending more than two years in jail, Beilis was eventually exonerated of all charges, but not before his case caused an international outcry against the anti-Semitism rampant in the Russian Empire.

The arrest of Mendel Beilis.
It's the same lie

While The Bloody Hoax tells the story of a blood libel allegation against Popov, there was one sentence in the book that I perceived as being more relevant today.
Popov lives with a Jewish family in the shtetl, and on the day before Passover he accompanies them to the bakery to assist them in making matzot for the Seder. Popov is eager to go; he wants to discover the truth behind the wide-spread Christian belief that Jews put Christian blood (especially that of children) into their matzot. By this time, he has lived with Jews long enough to know that they do not consume blood of any kind, least of all human, and that they are, on the whole, a gentle people; he can’t imagine them killing anyone at all ever. But, he concludes to himself, there must be something to it. Everyone believes it. Where there’s smoke, there must be fire. Maybe they add wine and someone noticed the color and claimed it as blood. Maybe they cut themselves during the ritual.
As Popov watches the pre-Passover mayhem at the bakery – setting timers, mixing the flour and water, baking, cleaning – in a moment of anguish he comes to the realization that the ‘universal truth’ of the blood libel is a great big lie, made up of whole cloth, without a single atom of truth in it, designed only to hurt the Jewish people.  

It was that sentence that resonated with me, that the lie was cut of whole cloth.
Most educated people today understand that the blood libel – the accusation of a Jew of killing a Christian child to drain its blood to bake in matzot – was a purely anti-Semitic legend, that there is no truth in it whatsoever. A similar accusation is made, every so often, by the Saudi Arabian or Egyptian press—or course they claim that a Muslim child rather than a Christian child is killed for its blood. In the last few years, the old fashioned blood-in-the-matzah myth has taken a 21st century twist. Israelis have been accused of a) killing Palestinians to harvest their organs to implant into Jews awaiting operations and b) of going to Haiti after the earthquake there to find corpses to harvest organs and/or kill Haitians to harvest organs. Some versions have the Israelis selling the organs to the highest bidder and making tons of money.
All these stories have generally been dismissed.

In comparison to the destruction these blood libels caused in the past, when made today, these accusations just pass us by.
Not because they aren’t hideous and revolting, but because a different lie has replaced the blood libel that is even more pernicious and destructive.   

Today’s lie against the Jewish people is that we are occupying ‘Palestinian’ land.
This lie is so wide-spread that distinguished prize-winning writers spread it without thinking. Newspapers across the globe use it as background to their stories. Politicians use it as a base to their speeches. This lie has tentacled into more lies: That Israeli soldiers murder ‘Palestinians’ on a daily basis; that Israelis deny ‘Palestinians’ water, electricity, and basic foods; and –the latest – that Israel practices ‘Apartheid’.

This lie is so pandemic it’s breathtaking.
Just about everyone believes some form of the lie is true, from practicing full apartheid, to officially treating Arabs as second-class citizens, to the ‘Palestinian people’ have been brutally exiled from their home of thousands of years, all the way to the belief in the ‘Holocaust’ we are perpetrating on the poor Palestinians. Even many Jews, who are no longer educated in their own history and heritage, have come to believe this is true. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right?

Yet, in reality, it is a lie cut from whole cloth.

Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels once said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Just to be very clear:
·  There is no apartheid in Israel.
·  There is no official policy in Israel to treat Arabs as second-class citizens.
·  According to the US Census Bureau, in 1970 (three years after Israel regained the ‘West Bank’) there were approximately 690,000 Arabs living there. Today, the Arab population of the West Bank numbers over 2,500,000. The number of live births in the area today totals 155,000 a year, as opposed to 44,000 a year in 1950. (If this is genocide, we’re doing an awfully bad job.)
·  The only land we are occupying is the Land of Israel, which belongs to the Jewish people, historically, morally, and legally.
·  Jews don’t consume blood, human or otherwise.

Our hero Popov was not an anti-Semite. He believed in the blood libel because it was a big lie, repeated often enough.

If you don’t believe me, why would you believe them?

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