The war started last July with Hizbullah’s cross-border attack on an Israeli patrol and the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers. The daring move, across the internationally recognized, UN-ratified border with Lebanon, gave rise to an immediate sense of purpose to most Israelis in uniform, both regular army personnel and your average citizen-soldier like me.
The conflict escalated as our government thought it would flex its muscles by launching a few air strikes and Hizbullah, tails between its legs, would return our soldiers. That didn’t happen. Instead of attacking the head of the snake in Syria and Iran, we aimed for the tail. But it seems that every time you cut off a piece of the tail, it just grows back.
Our government refused to attack Hizbullah with the strength needed to eradicate its threat to us and refused to destroy those who aid and abet them. In the end, it was we – the IDF and the State of Israel – who came home with our tails between our legs. Why and how did this happen? I think the root cause is more complicated than we think.
I recently took an exploratory trip with a few other tour guides through the Czech Republic. While in the Jewish Quarter of Prague, one of the guides suggested we put on the infamous yellow hat that Czech kings had made the Jews wear. We all had a good laugh at this suggestion.
Afterward, I took keen notice to our surroundings and realized the point he was trying to make: Jewish citizens of Prague are few and far between – Hitler’s dream of turning the Jewish Quarter of Prague into a “Jewish Museum” has been realized and most Jewish tourists here are soft-spoken about their identity.
Indeed, the most prominent landmarks of the Old Town in Prague are steeped in anti-Semitic events. All of Prague is physically centered on the Tyn Church, and there’s an interesting story to that.
Apparently, back in the 17th century a twelve-year-old Jewish boy tried to leave Judaism and, according to a Czech legend that grew ever more elaborate over the centuries, was beaten by his father. The boy died from his injuries and was quietly buried in the Jewish cemetery.
When the authorities learned about the incident they arrested the boy’s father and an accomplice, tortured them mercilessly, then tore the father’s heart out while he was still alive and stuffed it down his throat. After the accomplice witnessed this he converted to Christianity. The Czech authorities had mercy on him and merely chopped off his head. The boy’s body was exhumed and interred in the church cemetery. He remains a national Czech martyr to this day. There are many other examples of similar Czech-Jewish “relations” which usually begin with a blood libel.
We visited the Terezin concentration camp where we were greeted by a cemetery in which the first thing you see is a giant cross adorned with a crown of thorns. Only later a much smaller Star of David appears. There is a small memorial to all the Jews who died in the camps of Europe, and included are ashes from each of the camps. A giant statue of Mary, weeping for the victims, looms over the memorial. The message is clear: Christianity has superseded Judaism and the Jews have been persecuted for their rejection of Jesus.
The point the guide who mentioned the yellow hat was trying to make was this: Why must we Jews hide our Judaism? Why don’t we confront this anti-Semitism more vigorously? Why is it that Jews from around the world do not stand up to the blatant bias against Israel on the part of the United Nations and Europeans, which obviously has anti-Semitic undertones? How do we let other nations take control of our world heritage centers and turn them into a discourse against our nation? Why doesn’t the Israeli government combat this more intelligently and more forcefully?
I can only conclude that most of us Jews suffer from a Holocaust mentality. We are afraid of what the other nations think of us and we long for their approval after 2,000 years of suffering at their hands.
One way that some American Jews display their Holocaust mentality is by lashing out at the biggest Jewish target there is: Israel. I see this phenomenon when I serve as a tour guide for visiting Americans and when I do my army reserve duty in the West Bank.