Holocaust Mentality Shapes Jews and Israelis Alike


Holocaust Mentality Shapes Jews and Israelis Alike


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Holocaust Mentality

By Joseph Yudin

I was on an exploratory tour with a few Israeli tour guides through the Czech Republic and Poland last week. My mission was to be educated on how to lead "Jewish heritage tours" of Central and Eastern Europe. While in the "Jewish Quarter" of Prague one of the guides suggested that we wear the infamous "Yellow Hat" that Czech & Hapsburg kings made their Jewish "subjects" wear if they left the ghettos on the few occasions to which they were permitted. We all had a good laugh at this suggestion but he was serious.

Afterwards I took keen notice to our surroundings and I 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 are soft spoken and rarely outwardly express their Jewish identities as if they should still be afraid of something. Indeed the most prominent landmarks of the Old Town in Prague are steeped in anti-Semitic events that are brushed off simply as footnotes in the proud history of the Czech people.

Many things bothered me in the Czech Republic and Poland. In Poland I expected to come face to face with its anti-Semitic past but for some reason I believed the Czech Republic to be enlightened and more western. All of Prague is physically centered on the Tyn Church where there is a Saint buried at the center of its cathedral. Apparently a twelve year old Jewish boy in the 17th century tried to leave Judaism and according to Czech history which has been elaborated on over the centuries, he was then beaten up by his father. He did not survive the beating and was quietly buried in the Jewish cemetery.

When the Christian authorities found out about it they arrested the boy's father and his accomplice, tortured them mercilessly and 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 and the Czech authorities had mercy on him and only chopped off his head. The boy's body was then exhumed, then interned in the center of the church and became a national Czech martyr which he remains until this day. There are many, many other examples of similar Czech-Jewish "relations" which usually begin with a blood libel or pogrom. Pogroms were so common that Rabbi Loew apparently created a monster, called the Golem, to roam the Jewish Quarter's streets at night in order to protect Prague's Jews.

The straw that broke the camel's back for me was the Terrezin concentration camp. There is a small memorial there to all the Jews who died at all the concentration camps in Europe. There are ashes in glass casings from each camp behind the names of each camp and low and behold a giant statue of Mary, "the mother of God" weeping for the victims. At the cemetery at Terrezin the first thing you see is a giant cross with a crown of thorns atop it and only later do you see a much smaller Star of David. The message here was clear: Christianity has superseded Judaism and the Jews have been persecuted for their rejection of God in "His" human form i.e. Jesus.

The point that the guide who mentioned wearing the yellow hat was trying to make was this: why must we Jews hide our Judaism? Do we really need to accept these bigoted views of Judaism and our history? 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 United Nations and European blatant bias against Israel which obviously has anti-Semitic undertones? How do we let other nations take control of our synagogues, cemeteries and European heritage centers and turn them into a discourse against our nation? Why doesn't the Israeli government combat this anti-Semitism more intelligently and more forcefully? The conclusion I have made is this: Most of us Jews suffer from a "holocaust mentality" in one form or another. 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 popular way that some American Jews suffer from a holocaust mentality is by lashing out at the biggest Jewish target there is: Israel. I see it a lot when I am guiding Birthright tours of Jewish college students or when I am serving in the Israeli army in the West Bank near the security barrier. These young Jewish "activists" are champions of the Palestinian cause to a point where they violently confront other Jews trying to protect their own. The radicalism of their argument is a basic European-leftist ideology that does not recognize Israel's right to exist. They reject a two state solution and view Israel as an experiment in colonialism. This is a complete rejection of the very foundation of Judaism which was born here in the Land of Israel by Jews who lived here for thousands of years. They reject, despite overwhelming evidence, the Jewish roots in the Land of Israel dating back at least 3,000 years, and are incapable of even contemplating the fact that most Palestinians are recent immigrants to this land themselves.

If they go against "the Palestinian cause" by being pro Israel, they cease being an activist for the left in the eyes of their ultra-liberal friends in university and abroad. They therefore are not accepted by their own intelligentsia and would rather reject their own people, roots and culture than be perceived as a Jewish sympathizer. Of course they are no where to be found when Palestinians purposely try to murder civilians, they only turn up when Israel retaliates against these terrorists or try and build a wall to stop these terrorists. Heaven forbid they embrace the fellow Jews battling to protect their families. Of course you rarely see these people marching at a rally to stop the genocide at Darfur.

I am often asked why I left America to live in Israel. That's a hard question to answer especially because of the fact that I truly believe that the United States of America is truly the greatest country in the world. Where else in the world can hard work pay off so well that one can almost certainly support his own family?

Try it in Israel or Europe where bureaucracy, taxes and the welfare state are so thick that at the end of the day you wonder why you are working so hard being left with almost nothing. A state where you can burn your own flag and compare your own President to the most evil figures ever to walk the face of the earth and know that the police won't arrest you for it. One of the main reasons I left America for Israel is because of, what I thought at the time, was a lack of the presence of this Holocaust mentality, a place where I could hold my head up high as a Jew and proudly proclaim my Judaism and shout "and if you don't like it just try and come and get me!" After all, our cause is just, our morality is unquestionable to any rational human being, and we have an army to protect ourselves. Yet even Israel suffers from a holocaust mentality and I only came to this realization during this second stint at war in Lebanon.

We did not start the Second Lebanon War nor this ongoing conflict with the Palestinians yet missiles, think about it, missiles, were falling (and continue to fall in Sderot) on Israel daily for over a month. Our international border was crossed, soldiers were killed and others kidnapped. When we responded to this act of war against military targets, missiles intentionally rained down on our cities. No one disputes the fact that the missile fire came from civilian areas and that the terrorists used (and continue to use) their own civilians as shields. But as Israeli civilians were being intentionally murdered Israel carried on the war against bridges, buildings and roads, carefully avoiding hitting the very areas where the terrorists were hiding in order to spare the lives of the civilians who were knowingly in the area of these very same terrorists.

We tried to shoot around the civilians and we were somewhat successful at this until the inevitable happened and many civilians were killed at Kana in a retaliatory attack aimed at the terrorists. So what do we do? We stopped. We sacrificed the lives of our own children so Shiite children could live. We tip-toed around Lebanon like we were on egg shells as our own civilians absorbed the brunt of the attack, and what did we do? We did nothing. Our government suffers from a Holocaust mentality. Any other government after having suffered a barrage of thousands of missile aimed at their families would have launched an all out defensive war, but because our government cares about what the other nations think of us, we held back our forces. Each and every one of us who went into Lebanon was expecting to fight for our right to live as Jews in a Jewish nation, but instead we sat on our asses.

Now Hizbollah is being rearmed by Iran through Syria and under the watchful eyes of the Lebanese army and the French led UN forces. France seems to be content to the fact that the terrorists are wearing civilian clothes and not waving their flags. The only threatening fists the UN forces in Lebanon are making are at Israel for monitoring the arms smuggling with overhead flights. And what are Israel and the Jewish people doing about it? Absolutely nothing.

Now Iran is building up their nuclear capabilities and everyone knows it. Hasan Rahimpur Azghadi of the Iranian Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution, which aired on Iranian state sponsored television said,

"We will export our revolution to the entire world. The Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] raised the ideal of establishing the united Islamic nation, and the union of the Islamic masses. He made the annihilation of Israel the official slogan of the Islamic Republic, declaring: 'Israel must be annihilated.' The Imam said that if the superpowers confront our religion, we will confront their entire world. He said: 'We will crush the claws of America in the Middle East and throughout the world.'"

I hope that our collective holocaust mentality will disappear before these barbarians get weapons of mass destruction, because if we don't take their own words seriously, just as we did not take Hitler's words seriously, we are headed towards another holocaust. Ariel Sharon said in a famous speech that Israel will not be the 21st century's Czechoslovakia referring to England's sacrifice of that nation to Hitler in order to appease the tyrant. I hope he's right but the only way to keep that from happening is to again stand tall with our backs to the wall and march forward without looking back. There is simply no other way.

Joseph Yudin is General Manager & Tour Guide for www.TouringIsrael.com


from the December 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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