I have a very dear friend who is on the verge of a trip to Turkey as part of an interfaith group - which includes Jews. This means that despite my current reluctance to pay any attention to local, State, national, or world political situations, I have been drawn to some articles about the recent Israeli interdiction of the Palestinian flotilla. One of the items I read reported that Iran was “offering a naval escort for the next flotilla”:
“Iran’s Revolutionary Guard naval forces are prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys that carry humanitarian assistance for the defenceless and oppressed people of Gaza with all their strength,” pledged Hojjatoleslam Ali Shirazi, Khamenei’s personal representative to the guards corps.
When I mentioned this to my husband, he asked - half-seriously - if perhaps Iran believed that President Obama was so busy with the Gulf oil spill that the United States wouldn’t pay attention to what Iran did. I don’t think that’s it at all.
I think Iran - and the rest of the world - believe that if Israel is destroyed and some or all of the Jews in Israel are killed, the United States will not do a damn thing. And I think Iran - and the rest of the world - are correct.
If Israel is destroyed and six million Jews die, most of Western Europe and an unfortunately large chunk of the United States will think three things:
1) Well, it’s a tragedy but the Jews brought it on themselves after all.
2) It’s too bad but at least we won’t have to worry about the Jews anymore.
3) Now the Arabs/Muslims/radical Muslims will love us and want to be friends.
They’d be criminally, heinously, and inexcusably wrong about the first thought. They’d be stupidly and naively wrong about the third thought. I suspect they’d be wrong about the second thought also. After all, destroying Israel and its citizens wouldn’t eliminate all the Jews in the world. There are quite a few in the United States, for example. And I would imagine that a fair number of the Jews left alive in the world would be very, very angry: angry at whoever did the destruction (Iran, the Arab nations, Pakistan); angry at themselves for not realizing the danger until it was too late; and angry at the United States for stepping back and allowing it to happen.
They’d get even angrier when they realized that with Israel gone their lives get worse. That would happen partly because so long as Israel exists there is a place where Jews who are mistreated can find sanctuary and an entity that can make life at least somewhat unpleasant for anyone who mistreats Jews in other countries.
But the lives of the surviving Jews would get worse mostly because in order for the people of the world to justify letting six million Jews die in Israel we would have to convince ourselves that the Jews in Israel didn't really deserve to exist anyhow. We could avoid that conviction after the Nazi atrocities because we could all claim we didn’t know, we never imagined, no decent person could possibly believe it was really happening.
We wouldn’t have that excuse if Israel was destroyed: we know, we don’t have to imagine, no decent person can possibly deny it happened before and could happen again. And if the Jews in Israel didn't deserve to exist, well, then what about the Jews who survive the destruction of Israel? Wouldn’t life for everyone on the planet be simpler, more peaceful, less angry if there just weren’t any more Jews anywhere? And I’m sure at least some of the angry Jews left in the world would give us all the excuse we need to argue that they, too, are bringing it on themselves. Perhaps I’m just getting old but it seems to me that the Western world is becoming far, far too comfortable with doing great harm in order to achieve what some believe will be a better life. For whoever is lucky enough to survive, of course.
Do I truly believe Israel will be destroyed? I don’t want to believe it; what decent person would? But for the first time in almost exactly 43 years I don’t consider it an impossibility. And that is terrifying, heart-breaking, and shameful.
Wikipedia - An accounting of the voyage of the MS (often SS) St. Louis during World War II. Pay particular attention to the “See also” section.
A Song for Helen - Deafening Silence on the rehabilitation of anti-Semitism. I find myself utterly bewildered by anti-Semitism. But then I find myself utterly bewildered by all forms of racial, gender-based, ethnic, and religious bigotry not so much because it’s immoral but because it’s so incredibly stupid. Exhibit A in this regard: Helen Thomas. Or, as my husband put it, surely if anyone is old enough to remember what happened to the Jews in Poland and Germany, it would be Helen Thomas.
Blind Hatred and “The Helen Thomas Treatment” - Villainous Company doing her usual excellent job. Warning: one graphic image in her discussion of how Germany and Poland treated Jews.
The First Cousin of Holocaust Denial - Jeffrey Goldberg. Notable quote:
While it is one thing (not a good thing, of course) to argue in euphemism for the destruction of Israel by invoking the so-called one-state solution, it is quite another to advocate for the "return" of Israeli Jews to their German and Polish homelands, not merely because such advocacy is almost comically absurd and cruel (or, at the very least, stunningly ignorant of recent European history) but because this argument denies to Jews what Helen Thomas, and people like Helen Thomas, want to grant the Palestinians: Recognition that they comprise, collectively, a nation.
And reading backward in his blog from that post provides some very interesting thoughts on the flotilla incident.
Helen Thomas and Peter Beinart - Opinion piece at the Wall Street Journal.
[These next links postdate my writing of this piece.]
Turning Tide - Everyday Glory on anti-Semitism, Israel, the flotilla, Charles Krauthammer, Comedy Central, intolerance, and the limits of The Washington Post.
Israel and the Surrender of the West - Shelby Steele writing in The Wall Street Journal.
The Nakba Obsession - A history lesson from Sol Stern in City Journal.