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Robert Israel Kabakoff
Robert Israel Kabakoff

Take the Holocaust memorials down. Now.

This week, a Holocaust memorial in Boise, Idaho, was vandalized. Let it sit for a moment. A Holocaust memorial in Boise, Idaho, nowhere near where it occurred; where no Jews were killed, not one, not a single Idahoan involved in any way, except for the likely contribution of defeating the perpetrators, possibly at the ultimate personal cost. Not one. But Boise is not without its history of victimizers and victims. For instance, the European settlers and the Nez Perce of Chief Joseph, “from where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever…” fame.

Not to be upstaged by those local, feather-wearing, stone-age, war-paint folks, we, the Jewish people of biblical and Auschwitz fame, too demand our pound of recognition as the preeminent victims of man’s inhumanity to man. Everywhere and by everybody and at all times. Yes, move over Shoshani, Kootenai and Nez Perce, we know you were ethnically cleansed, all but totally wiped out and marginalized into near oblivion. Sorry about that, damn shame, but there’s a new victim in town. Yes, a Holocaust memorial, even in Boise, Idaho, heartland of the country that ended it and punished the nation of perpetrators with defeat, firebombing, trials, hangings, and occupation. Even there.

It’s stunning to me that a people as brilliant, sensitive, and aware as we are, who have produced many of history’s most influential thinkers and doers, exactly how dumb, blind, deaf, and altogether obnoxiously, self-defeating we can be. You want to #EndJewHatred? #Combatantisemetism #Standwithus? Take the Holocaust memorials down, save Yad Vashem, the only one we need, and in Jerusalem, the only place it needs to be. Shed them like an old and outgrown skin or like they say in Kabala, a klipa. Start with the one in DC, recruit young, Jewish hands to deconstruct, demolish, and remove their debris. Dy mi ze. Through. Maspeek. Enough. Physical labor, explosives, jackhammers, torches, and wheel barrels, albeit anathema to our delicate kinder can, in this case, actually help to make us free. Free from the pathology of our obsession with victimization and the resentment caused by shoving it down everyone’s throat at every conceivable opportunity, and then some; free from the trauma we induce in every new generation of young Jews since, who might prefer to see themselves as resilient, strong, creative, courageous, determined, self-sacrificing, and successful without the constant, self-pitying, hector: “in every generation they rise up to…”

Let the six million finally rest, but there will be no peace for them until we stop misusing them. The way we memorialize them is hardly a “blessing”, using their sufferings to inspire resentment in the neutral and feed the rabid, Judeaphobic hate-mongering by insisting on demands for attention and special treatment. Do we actually expect them to observe “International Holocaust Memorial Day” in Rwanda? Children who have seen their parents’ dismembered and burned bodies eaten by wild dogs? What’s so unique and particularly significant about Jewish suffering that it warrants center stage in every arena reachable and in perpetuity? I get the particularity, industrial genocide committed by an advanced society aided and abetted by an arguably indifferent world, but it is an academic point for the books and classrooms, not one effectively communicated by mass promotion. In fact, it boomerangs. Hath not a Nez Perce eyes?

This just in: it’s not our job to save the world any more, never really was, but if it ever even seemed to have been our self-appointed task, it ain’t no more. Retire that fantasy too. Not after Auschwitz, followed by May 14, 1948. Let the world save itself, or not. Our job is to save us, starting with from ourselves and we don’t seem quite up to the task. No one even got in Omar’s face to demand an apology for her insults. No one. Not even Chuck Schumer, the “shomer”, the title he cheaply panders to his flock with. We left it to our gentile protectors like Nancy Pelosi and got about as much from her as we put in. Nearly nothing. Omar smiles, and “the squad” grows. We let her get away with it. We did. Not Pelosi. Mazal tov to us.

There was the recent story of a pro-athlete, not sure if it was American football or baseball, but when he suddenly discovered his Jewish roots, the first thing he told the press he did was begin reading up about the… you guessed it, the Holocaust. Not Moshe rabeinu and his holy mission, Isaiah and his prophesy, the mysticism of the Zohar, the psalms of David the warrior-king, the songs of Solomon or the vision of Herzl, courage of Trumpledor, Avraham Stern, Rabbi Kook, Achad Ha’am, the enlightened wisdom of Rashi, the Rambam or the dedication and loyalty of Mickey Marcus or even the words of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, not Ben-Gurion, Begin or Yoni Netanyahu but the six million. The Holocaust. Is that who we are? There have been literally countless peoples and nations that have been unjustly and grotesquely persecuted, the majority of whom are either completely or nearly erased from all of history, we don’t even know their names. I’ll list a few, some still limping along, battered, others long gone but whose names we still recall to make the point: the Taino, the Aztec, the Armenians, the Zulu, the Mohawk, the Tutsi, the aborigines of Australia, the Romani, the Intuit, the Timorese, the Mohicans, the Khmer, Rapa Nui, Hmong, and closer to home the Assyrians, the Kurds, the Yazidis, Copts, Canaanites, Seleucids, Macedonians, Persians, Ptolemaists, Philistines and even Amalek (y’mach sh’mo). Many gone or nearly gone, finished, over if not entirely forgotten. The remnants that grieve do so with quiet dignity. There is no global virus of anti-Coptism plaguing them for centuries. You could fill encyclopedias and museums with the names, relics, and stories of just the ones we still know of. Though perhaps not entirely forgotten, as the unlisted overwhelming majorities have been, none of them have survived long enough to reclaim sovereignty over their original, ancestral homeland and are highly unlikely ever to. The Aztec have about the same chance of staging a Mexican comeback as the Etruscans do of reviving then taking Rome. We have.

Not only have we succeeded at that unprecedented achievement, sui generis, but we are now as a people, though still threatened and plagued, more powerful than we ever have been, from a thriving, geo-strategically vital territory with an alliance to the world’s only super-power to Dolphin Cs, F35s, Tabors and satellites to protect it (not to mention Dimona so I won’t), certainly since the times of Josephus, Sol and David. Yet, we still cling to our victim fetish as though we don’t know who to be without its perverse comforts, in that respect a lot like the newly-minted, ever popular, world-renowned, victim-class, the so-called “Palestinian” Arabs.

Our mantra “in every generation they rise up to…” needs to be retired as well, it’s poison. “Holocaust education” traumatizes our young who still don’t know how to stand up for themselves on college campuses, or on the streets of Brooklyn, barely even in Israel. It’s not education; it’s poisonous indoctrination into the cult of victimhood where we elevate cowardice to a virtue. Why? Because we have been conditioned by centuries of persecution and our adaptive, anachronistic role in perpetuating it. How? Among other methods, by worshiping at the alter of victimhood, e.g., Holocaust memorials. How can young Jews on college campuses be expected to stand up for themselves and defend Jewish honor and personal dignity? We don’t teach that. We hide from it. Hanukah’s not about “peace and light” like the SSI crowd loves to proclaim, it’s about courage, sacrifice, and victory rewarded with a miracle. Like June 5, 1967.

But now? Who needs courage when Title VI will spare us the necessity of standing up for ourselves? A convenient workaround, but for its total failure, we don’t teach righteous anger, or sacrifice for Jewish honor, we barely even pretend to and on the rare occasion when we sorta’ do? We pantomime it without putting any skin in the game, the sine qua non of any struggle, sacrifice, skin, blood, bone, like the recent assault on observant teenagers, paralyzed by fear and impotence on a London bus illustrates. No one thought, “let’s get out of the bus and give these cowardly tormentors a surprise they’ll never forget in the form of a bill for their party, make them pay with skin. Cost what it may. Enough is enough.”

What stops them? Even if it was a bus full of LGBTQ etc., people, even in drag they’d’a gotten off the bus, in their high heels and mixed it up, made a commitment to their children’s dignity even at the cost of sacrifice, personal loss. Not us, though. Nope. At that point, we find our typical young Jews paralyzed by the prospect of having to fight, i.e., pay a price to impose a cost, which is the sine qua non of any successful conflict management. Someone might get hurt, or arrested, or both, not worth it. Forget it. Instead, we’ll default to our reliable, ghetto-installed settings: play helpless victim and demand the gentiles save us, like the Americans and Russians finally did after six million were lost. To that end we canonize and teach Anne Frank instead of the modern day Judiths and Deborahs, the Hannah Szenes, Faye Schulmans, Abba Kovners and the Beilsky brothers, she’s our sacred avatar of Jewish suffering, innocence, and helplessness, a world-famous icon while hardly anyone knows who Mordechai Anielewicz was. Why her and not them? Because she was a helpless victim while they were fighters, martyrs, and heroes. They sacrificed for a life with honor, or death by taking it to the enemy. Their memories frighten us so we bury them. Hers exemplifies the deeply embedded need we have to see ourselves as perpetual victims demanding center-stage sympathy, “protection,” and attention instead of respect, or fear, an excuse to remain comfortably weak and dependent, honor is for gentiles and heathens like the Comanche and Spartans, it costs, it bleeds.

We worship weakness, so naturally our victim worship is not a “blessing” inspiring us to be strong, proud, and forceful in the face of threats, instead renders us unable to respond effectively to Judeaphobic bigotry. We willingly surrender pride for sympathy, rationalizing it by presuming to provide some kind of lofty exercise in higher ethics for humanity, all the while inspiring hatred and resentment by endlessly parading in our cherished crown of thorns. Tisha b’Av and Yom Hazikaron are not enough to slake our righteous desire to memorialize our losses, we add International Holocaust Memorial Day followed by Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Day and then Kristallnacht Memorial Day. See? “Night of Broken Glass.” We even give our hideous tragedies poetic titles so they don’t get mixed up. Poison. Pure poison. When we celebrate the Hasmonean triumph we focus on the “miracle” of the lamp, not the heroism of the Maccabean sacrifice that made the lamp “miracle” possible, so to say. In the galut, except to scholars, seldom do we teach Eleazar the Maccabee or Hannah and her sons, Matityahu and his hammers or exactly why Moshe rabeinu became a fugitive from Pharaoh, not even Bar Kochba or the zealots of Masada, or if we do it’s quickly and quietly glossed over.

Time to take it off, the crown no longer fits. As long as there is an Israel, we are no longer in the ghetto except for the ones we dutifully, out of habit and self-entered fear, construct for ourselves, like in Crown Heights or Beverly Grove. The fact is that despite ourselves we are no longer obliged by externalities to play the righteous victim, but old habits, wired into our epigenetics die hard. Hark! We can do “hard” as well. If we can bring the concept of an ethical Creator to a savage humanity of infanticide, endless slavery, and human sacrifice, if we can bring the foundation of western morality via the Noahide Laws and Decalogue, the Christian savior, define and delineate relativity, reclaim national sovereignty after two millennia of estrangement and persecution, and lay the foundations for a third Temple we can accomplish that too, I’m sure, but first we must see it: it’s an inside job. We willingly and habitually play the role of victim through our steadfast refusal to sacrifice in battle against our tormentors. Retire the poisonous “memorials,” take them down brick by brick, glass by glass, beam by beam, with Jewish hands, kick the habit, reformat “Holocaust education” with an emphasis on resistance, courage, and sacrifice, let Anne Frank get some rest, and above all, support a fearsome IDF and a vibrant Jewish state from which there are no substitutes, only Amalek, only Auschwitz.

The change must start with us or it won’t start anywhere and if not, we might be “studying antisemtism” while moaning and groaning and kvetching on our tzuris about how “in every generation they…” for another two thousand years, but count me out. I don’t play victim. I don’t know why you would either. Take the Holocaust memorials down, even the one in Boise, Idaho. Yeah. Take them all down today, right now. The rest is commentary.

About the Author
Robert is a life-long New Yorker, working actor, author and world traveler.
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