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Batman, occasionally, appears in the West Bank

The shadow. Image: Ricardo Silva
The shadow
The shadow. Image: Ricardo Silva

Six degrees away…from the Dark Knight.

1. Robert Kane or Robert Kahn, the New Yorker who built the myth of the character that symbolizes the light and the shadows that everyone has: Batman. Robert Kane, as a Jew, knew the tragedies of our people, and took them, consciously or not, to the drama. Bruce Wayne witnesses the murder of his parents; he is expelled from paradise.

2. I would need ink, energy, and heart to transcribe the occasions which through history, our Jewish kids saw their families fall by murderous hands. In each generation we have been left orphaned.

3. Bruce Wayne is a millionaire and lonely, expelled from the family paradise. He needs to survive in an uncertain world and preserve the good name of the Wayne’s.

4. The cliché around the world is that every Jew has a lot of money. Exiled, persecuted, we do everything to keep our tradition, heritage, and identity.

5. Bruce Wayne, light, must work, learn, move between society. Batman, shadow, deals with psychopaths, criminals. Which personality domains?

6. Israel, light, is the diamond of the Middle East. We are the forefront in technology, medicine, education. In any moment, shadow, we could be victims of a terrorist attack. And if that was not enough, some of our neighbors have sworn to destroy us. We spend time, effort, money, human lives for our safety.

The conflict.

“Masked settlers violently attack Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank”. So it read in the headlines of newspapers a few weeks ago. The coexistence between Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank is tense, to say the least. Both assume themselves as victims of invasion, and the violence on both sides is daily. On the Jewish side, there have been counted almost 500 attacks on many different levels of the Palestinian population for the last couple of years.

These, called by some as “Jewish extremists”, with a hidden face, took advantage of the holiday of Tu’Bishvat to attack peace activists, Jews and Palestinians, that were planting trees. Dozens of masked people, according to the reports, hit people and damaged vehicles.

Recently, ironically, Palestinians took advantage of the mischief of throwing snowballs in Jerusalem, to behave like an undesirable paraphrase of the Joker: they disguised rocks as snowballs and threw them towards Jewish passers-by.

We can understand and justify anger. I believe that everyone has been victim, in one way or another, of our neighbor’s criminal violence, and certainly, more than one had to go outside, gun in hand, looking for culprits.

The mask.

Everyone has a shadow, said Jung. The shadow it is that part of our personality forged by fear, frustrations, and painful experiences. The more we deny it and repress it, the more destructive it becomes. In Batman, the mask personifies the shadow, the ordinary man is hidden away, and the hurt masked man rises in need of purpose, justice by one’s own hand, because the political status quo is not enough to redeem his pain. The danger of the mask is that there is no way back, the supposed anonymity gives power, safety, like the one who attacks from the distance on social media, with no risk to be confronted, without consequences. Batman recognizes the seductive risk of the shadow and puts on himself the rule of delivering the criminals to the justice system. Batman, the hero, does not kill so as not become in the thing that he chases. Recognizing the monster is to subdue it, keep it in line.

We are the people of the Book, of the Law, there are many people working so that our judicial system gives us security; we do not need a mask. If we let the shadow dominate us, it could take us to a point of no return. Even if we are direct victims, we have laws, that is what makes us different from the one who pretend to be our enemy, in the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

“Yet the Torah inserts one vital element between the killer and the victim’s family: the principle of justice. There must be no direct act of revenge (…) It is foolhardy to act as if the desire for revenge does not exist. It does. But given free rein, it will reduce societies to violence and bloodshed without end. The only alternative is to channel it through the operation of law, fair trial (…)”

It is worth quoting Friedrich Nietzsche: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster (…) when you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you”.

A thousand are the things that our young people suffer in those areas, and it is urgent to procure resilience. Beyond our own traumatic experiences, there is the social orphanhood, a possible result of the stigma that mental health has in our country, our social shadow.

About the Author
Journalist in Mexico for more than 30 years. I made Aliyah in 2020. I collaborate as a content creator on social networks. Director of content in the organization "El Aleph, the Jewish voice of the radio" for the education and dissemination of Jewish culture in Spanish.
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