Michael Corwin
Rhetoric for Reason

Isn’t this actually the narrative of redemption?

Taylor Brandon/Unsplash
Taylor Brandon/Unsplash

Sometimes I wish we lived in the state-less, nation-less world that John Lennon imagined, not separated by the “granfalloons” of religious and political identity which Kurt Vonnegut articulated. But we don’t. And our diversity, the rich mosaic of cultures, is one of our beautiful strengths as humans, right? Including the Jews, right?

It could be said that Judaism, which arose centuries before Christ in modern-day Israel, is the progenitor of the Abrahamic religions. So given this ancient lineage, why do we number only in the handfuls of millions today while there are billions of Christians and Muslims?

Could it be real genocide, the periodic waves of pograms both primeval and modern which culminated in the Holocaust’s slaughter of a significant percentage of the world’s Jews? Could it be cultural genocide, the kind of bullying we’re seeing again (euphemistically labeled today as “anti-Zionism”), which caused Jews over the generations to assimilate or abandon their culture? 

Regarding today’s mishigas, where there’s no dearth of shrill rubberneckers aiming their firehose of castigation at Israelis – nay all the world’s Zionists and Jews – let me first state the obvious: War is horrible, the loss of any innocent life is agonizing and heartbreaking, and I empathize with the Palestinians.

I just see that Israel is in need of defense, both literal and otherwise. Jews have been kicked around, exiled, and oppressed since our genesis. Why should we not be able to reclaim and maintain our ancient sovereign state in favor of Arabs “colonizing” the entire region? Why are we not celebrated for throwing off the proverbial shackles as part of a great narrative of redemption?

And why should we bear the blame entirely for the conflict? When the United Nations offered both the Jews and the Arabs of the area their own states in 1947, the latter rejected the opportunity to have the first-ever Palestinian state, which was only one of many formal rejections of statehood and peace.

And when the surrounding Arab countries ganged up to attack Israel over the years and finally rid the region of its Jews, they lost all the wars they instigated and also lost territory (Gaza and the West Bank) as a result – which Israel had hoped to exchange for peace.

So it seems to me that the Arab enemies of Israel boxed themselves into this corner by resisting reality, eschewing compromise, and fighting an unwinnable fight. They have had plenty of opportunities to gain their own state, but have chosen instead to wage war. Instead of investing in quality of life for their community, they have invested in rockets, suicide bombings, and tunnels.

And so I say to those who reflexively criticize Israel, to those who have been calling for a ceasefire since October 8: What are the Israelis to do? Accept the mass suicide of a nation of millions? Move en masse to Poland? If the paradigm that’s been foisted on them is “us or them,” isn’t it fair for the Israelis to stand their ground? In this world which values cultural diversity, shouldn’t we wish to preserve this miniscule but ancient race?

And if the Israelis are permitted to defend themselves and continue to exist, how should they do it in this present instance, in which their sworn, mortal enemy – after attacking them in the most heinous and horrific ways imaginable – literally hides amongst civilians in hospitals, schools, mosques, and tunnels, hoping to maximize civilian casualties so that the world continues to turn on us, as it often does?

To wit, where was the outcry when six million of us were marched to our deaths by gas chamber or firing squad over the span of half a decade? The outcry was certainly heard the moment we started to fight back, whether by reclaiming our ancestral homeland or by defending it.

“Raise your hands if you’re a Zionist,” the man on the New York City subway shouts. “Raise your hands if you’re a Zionist,” the masses on the train repeat, in the monotonous, mindless manner of goose-stepping followers. “This is your chance to get out,” the man screams. “This is your chance to get out,” the masses scream. “Ok, no Zionists – we’re good,” he proclaims. “Wonderful,” someone in the cult of keffiyehs and Covid masks exclaims. 

Echoes of 1933 are resounding in the streets from NYC to France. Have we learned, or are we going to let history repeat itself? While I don’t think all this portends another actual Holocaust, I do think we can examine our anti-Jewish (“anti-Zionist”) biases, which is certainly apropos in this age of sensitivity. When we look back at this period of time with the wisdom of hindsight, we will see the shame in alleging genocide by a people who are in fact only acting against the actual genocide which has dogged them since the very beginning and threatens them to this day.

About the Author
Michael Corwin is a writer and editor in New York City; husband; and father of two children, a cat, and two chickens. Prior pieces:
Related Topics
Related Posts