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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Police’

The Pianist (Part II)

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
War, terrorism and genocide are not mutually exclusive. Now, as certain portions of the Arab/Islamic world openly declare genocidal intentions against Israel (a war of extermination is plainly a genocidal war under international law), some progressive Jews are proudly leading various rallies and/or publications for peace – a peace that could only be fashioned upon a new generation of Jewish corpses. Here, in the United States, and regrettably, also in Israel, Jewish university professors are all-too typically the leaders in organized campus protests (1) against an alleged Israeli “occupation,” and (2) for expanded Palestinian “rights.”

 

Not one of these Jewish professors normally murmurs an audible objection to multiple Arab murders of their fellow Jews in Israel by lynchings, shootings and suicide bombings. Nor, one can be rather certain, will any of these Jewish “humanitarians” suggest any reciprocal Palestinian wrongdoing when Hamas’ next round of rockets is fired at cities and towns in Israel, or when Palestinian Authority security forces so rigorously trained by U.S. Lt. General Keith Dayton begin to initiate new terrorist outrages against Israel. Regarding these American-trained Fatah fighters, we can also be sure that they will ultimately also use their new found terror talents against their benefactor – that is, against the United States itself.

 

Credo quia absurdum. “I believe because it is absurd.” Offered an “opportunity” to combine self-destruction with broader patterns of injustice, we Jews always have enthusiastic takers among us. Always, these grim archaeologists of ruins-in-the-making overlook that any complicity with evil is destined, deservedly, to fail. We still have much to learn, therefore, from The Pianist.

 

The Jewish Police in Warsaw, we know now, were indecent and foolish. Today’s  “Jewish Police,” mainly American and Israeli academic supporters of Israel’s enemies, don’t wear a uniform or carry a truncheon, but they are similarly indecent, and equally foolish. In some respects, they are vastly more odious than even their Warsaw antecedents, as this current generation of Jewish collaborators does so willingly and smugly, boastfully, and without any genuine prior need for personal or familial self-preservation.

 

Too often hiding behind their academic robes, and behind sanctimonious yet altogether vacant calls for academic “freedom,” the consuming cowardice of these contemporary Jewish Police is not merely stifling it is also very dangerous. Intermittently reinforced by well intentioned but similarly-uninformed Jews outside the academy who believe that marching ceremoniously for Palestinian statehood is somehow the moral equivalent of marching for civil rights with Martin Luther King, these pitiable but lamentable Jewish minions represent the witless advance guard of Israel’s physical annihilation. Left unchallenged by those who should know better, but who nonetheless remain silent, they will sit by contemplatively, and without remorse, as chemical, biological and possibly even nuclear weapons rain down upon Israel. In Los Angeles, a veritable Mecca for Jews who live comfortably in “caves” (Plato’s caves), they will be visibly upset at what is happening (perhaps even going so far as to write angry letters to the Los Angeles Times), but still not sufficiently upset to interfere with their local Temple’s busy oneg schedule, or with the Sisterhood’s annual and widely-celebrated deli lunch.

 

Another thought dawns. In Warsaw, the great majority of Jews did not feel it was their personal responsibility to speak and act on behalf of Jewish survival. Rather, they believed, communal safety was exclusively the codified responsibility of community leaders; ultimately, that is, of the Jewish Councils who then both sanctioned and sustained the Jewish Police.

 

Today, it is clear that an even larger majority of American Jews remain silent in the face of hideous distortions of Israel by their fellow Jews, both in Israel and, here, in the United States.  Many of this “silent majority” are professional and well educated: doctors and lawyers, business people and social workers, teachers and accountants, entertainers and professors. They are silent, they claim, only because they are not “experts.” But the truest reason for their desperate silence is always something else. This is a seemingly irrepressible inclination to meet unwelcome and annoying danger with capitulation, fear and trembling.

 

What are they afraid of, these gentle and caring Jewish Temple members who can routinely be counted upon for regular donations to help the local homeless, and, of course, to make exceptionally tasty sandwiches for the local poor?  How can these patently good people fail to see that the Jihadist anti-Jewish world is once again mustering for a Jewish genocide, this time a more modernized mass killing in which the technology of annihilation will now bring gas directly to the target populations?  Don’t they see that they have a sacred responsibility, as Jews and as human beings, not to sit idly by as readily identifiable portions of the Arab/Islamic world prepare openly to blot out the increasingly vulnerable and continuously despised Jewish State?

 

How can these Jews fail to understand their absolute and binding obligation to resist becoming another “Jewish Police?” How, indeed, can they have learned so little from their own modern history? From The Pianist?

 

             Before suffering his then-unexpected torments, the pianist was altogether optimistic about the world. He did not want to be bothered too much about the unrelenting burdens of being Jewish. The world, after all, had become “modern.” Weren’t medieval hatreds, therefore, about to finally disappear?

 

The Jew had now become free to worry about others. He could even choose to be liberal and cosmopolitan. He was finally free, if only he chose, to stop worrying.

 

 

 But he was wrong, dead wrong. Today, moreover, the State of Israel, always the individual Jew in macrocosm, exists in existential peril, and without an adequate awareness of its stunningly fragile future by most Jews living elsewhere. For this to change, all Jews, must, at an absolute minimum, firmly reject and counter the frequently false portrayals of Israel’s policies and circumstances (e.g., the calumny of the Goldstone report concerning Israel’s winter 2008-2009 Cast Lead self-defense operation in Gaza). They should also refuse to collaborate in any way with those multiple foes or their hapless agents who would cheerily bring us another Final Solution.  This particular moral and intellectual imperative remains the great lesson of The Pianist.

 

If we should fail to heed this authentically existential obligation, the yawning abyss of Jewish history will be deep enough to hold us all. We dare not fail.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and publishes widely on international relations and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

The Pianist (Part I)

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Note:  Controversial director Roman Polanski’s 2002 film masterpiece, The Pianist, can be taken as a prescient parable on many levels. Today, when credible issues of Jewish “collaboration” in matters concerning Israeli security are aptly sensitive, elements of this film can be very helpful in understanding the critical choices and obligations presently before us – as Jews. With this in mind, I ask you to examine and consider the following film “review.”

                                                            Louis René Beres

 

On its surface, The Pianist is “merely” the true tale of a great Jewish musician (Wladyslaw Szpilman) caught up in the unfathomable depths of Nazi occupation and terror. More profoundly, of course, it is a disturbing visual microcosm of the generic human struggle between good and evil, a titanic struggle that is sometimes utterly clear, but at other times also distressingly “gray.” The Nazis in Poland were monsters, to be sure, but what are we to say about the others, including many Jews, who became actual and collaborative perpetrators in every corner of the Holocaust Kingdom?  What pertinent lessons can we learn from this 2002 film for Jewish, and especially Israeli, preservation in our own perilous time?

 

Recall the basic story. Emaciated, skeletal, starving and disoriented, the pianist endures German occupied Warsaw with aid offered by both Jews and gentiles, and with torments meted out by both Jews and gentiles. Yes, some Polish Catholics risked their own lives to save him, as did several Jews, including a member of the “Jewish Police.” But some, most other non-Jews in fact, took considerable comfort and even a delirious joy in the German-orchestrated mass murders.

 

 What can we say more precisely about the “Jewish Police” in Poland? Shall we be ashamed that thousands of Jews rounded up, abused, beat upon and deceived their fellow Jews in what turned out to be a grotesquely futile and hence ironic attempt to save their own lives and the lives of their families? Or shall we be more “understanding,” recognizing the overwhelming and ubiquitous human inclination to survive at all costs, even if the cost is – at least in retrospect – unmentionable?

 

However we might choose to judge the “Jewish Police” in Warsaw, what matters more is that we learn from this grim past to identify all future forms of active collaboration with our enemies as not only foolish, but as distinctly unforgivable. Now, and certainly with the benefit of an irrefutable hindsight, we must surely understand that our collective moral and intellectual imperative to survive together as Jews is also the only way we shall ever survive as intact individuals. Nowhere does this seemingly paradoxical understanding hold greater meaning than in regard to present-day Israel.

 

Learning from the Holocaust, from the particular and perplexing existential circumstances of The Pianist, we must never again do the terrible bidding of assisting murderers against ourselves.  It will also be insufficient if we choose only to think about our anti-collaborative actions and policy prescriptions. We Jews are already good enough at thinking.  Now we must also learn to feel these actions and prescriptions, and to feel them as Jews.

 

Interestingly enough, in the world of modern philosophy, the moral imperative to combine feeling with thinking can now be found in its boldest and most compelling form in the magisterial writings of the twentieth-century Spanish Catholic scholar, Miguel de Unamuno, especially in his The Tragic Sense of Life. More than anyone else, Don Miguel understood that the world is ultimately built upon “the man of flesh and bone,” and therefore upon ashes.

 

But back to The Pianist. As the film opens, the protagonist (Adrien Brody) is describing new anti-Jewish laws to a gentile friend, who naturally proceeds to comment: “This is absurd.”  How, she asks the cultured Szpilman, can an intelligent people, the Germans, prescribe such gratuitous harms against a singularly capable, innocent and caring people?  Why shouldn’t Jews be allowed to drink coffee in cafes or sit on a park bench? Has the modern world once again become conspicuously medieval?

 

The correct answer, of course, is plain to all who know history: Absurdity can become normal. The veneer of human civilization is exceedingly thin. Beneath this veneer are utterly primal needs and ferocities, persistent barbarisms that usually lie latent, but which can always explode with an unimaginable fury when encouraged to emerge by a respected or feared public authority.

 

Why shouldn’t six million Jews (the particular number is obviously noteworthy) now be permitted to live safely in their own tiny mini-state, a country smaller than Lake Michigan, when an Islamic world of over one billion people already has several dozen states?  Why is the “civilized world,” following U.S. President Barack Obama’s “road map,” eagerly preparing to carve yet another terrorist state (“Palestine”) out of the still-living body of Israel?  Why, in the enduring matter of a Palestinian state that would inevitably become a new launch point of violent attack upon both American and Israeli interests, are tens of thousands of Jews in the United States and Israel manifestly indifferent to the still-developing Holocaust?  Why are these Jews sometimes even actively engaged on the side of our (and their own) common enemies?

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and publishes widely on international relations and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/the-pianist-part-i-2/2010/07/28/

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