Michael J. Salamon

It was a pogrom!

It was a pogrom, pure and simple.

In the 2011 book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined” Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist made the argument that we live in a world now that is less deadly. Amassing voluminous data, he argued that humans have become less violent, less likely to kill or be sadistic toward one another over the millennia. Perhaps he was correct statistically. Perhaps he was correct a decade ago. Or perhaps he was correct when speaking of several cultures and religions, just not how Jews are treated. Or perhaps the world must go through radical changes every now and again.

Peter Turchin is a specialist in the study of cliodynamics, the mathematical modeling and statistical analysis of historical societies. Essentially, he and his colleagues’ study huge databases stretching over millennia to predict how societies change. In his recent book, “Elites, Counter-Elites and the path of Political Disintegration” he proposed a cycle that predicts the rise and fall of societies based primarily on the distribution of wealth. According to his data, as the upper class gets richer, they become more deeply entrenched creating a level of social inequality that ultimately causes a society to rupture and be rebuilt. He suggests that we are currently at the rupture point. While this approach focuses primarily on the allocation of capital the idea can be applied to current realities and how they are perceived by different social classes.

We live in a time where the facts of science are rejected by certain classes. Climate change is viewed as a hoax primarily by the non-elites because the elites tend to make more money over the fossil fuels that contribute to their wealth and have convinced others that climate change is not real. We are in a time where politicians are regaled for being aggressively dishonest and self-rewarding, ignoring the very people who elected them to advance their own coffers. And we live in a time where the value of life is diminished by “what-aboutism” and false moral equivalencies among progressives. This is a time when values are inverted and antisemitism flourishes.

When babies are beheaded, toddlers placed in cages, young women raped in public to chants of allah akbar, where the elderly are gunned down indiscriminately, where a pregnant woman is killed, and her womb sliced open with the fetus revealed it is certain that we are living in the most brutal of times among sadistic people. The societal rupture that Turchin speaks about seems to be occurring and Pinker’s findings of diminished sadism in society is at best vacuous.

A friend, truly horrified by what he was seeing on the news about the massacre in Israel that has taken so many innocent lives, tried to put it into a context of what he understood. He said, “I guess it’s sort of like the pogrom that they had in the movie Fiddler on the Roof.”

Perhaps it was rude to say that the analogy is impossibly wrong. But it is impossibly wrong! Thers is no sheriff shouting “Enough” and preventing murder, just encouraging mayhem. It is a pogrom on steroids, to the nth degree. Rob Eshman, a senior columnist for the Forward read the Hamas charter and provided a review under the heading “The truth of Hamas is in its charter.” The Hamas charter is a completely anti-Semitic 9000-word document filled with tropes of old lies and spewing hatred, calling for the killing of Jews. And even though the Charter was revised to soften the rhetoric in 2017, there is no way to downplay the absolute sadistic inhumanity of Hamas, and likely as well Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and the Iranian disregard for Jewish life that all their charters contain.

Historically, it is our impression, that when pogroms against Jews are openly celebrated the greater societies rupture. Pogroms in the 18th century in Imperial Russia preceded the ascent of communism. Nazism, with its primary focus on the eradication of Jews led to the rise of Western style democracies. The ruptures in society that pogroms forewarn lead us to worry that the divisions in society, the dismissal of science, the rise of elitism, the radicalization of both conservatives and liberals will cause cataclysmic changes to our world. If the value of Jewish life is dismissed yet again and Hamas and the evil allies seeking to create a fundamentalist caliphate are excused or simply ignored the outcome for the entire world will be extremely chaotic. These seemingly disparate issues are in effect bonded. When Black Lives Matter organizations celebrate the pogrom that took place in Israel, and self-righteous liberals rally exclaiming “Fuck the Jews” to the thousands who support them the value of all life is devalued. When right wing “friends” refuse to be of assistance life becomes devalued for all. We need a levelheaded bonding of sympathy and the move to eradicate evil if we are to survive the coming political disintegration.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and Netanya, the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications), "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America) and "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."
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