Heres the thing. Ive been thinking about poor Helen Thomas, who I believe was probably just saying what everyone thinks and has therefore been made a scapegoat. Not that I really care, because we ought to share the scapegoat status once in a while. Its the least we can do to dispel the stereotype that we are stingy, us irritating Jews.
Irritating enough, apparently - like the too-talented and too-bossy fame-hog Rachel Berry on Glee - in our discovery of the written word, monotheism, modern physics, psychology, vaccinations, and the film industry, that every country that has ever hosted us has found it necessary to tell us to get the hell out, like Thomas did. (Ironically, the aforementioned Jewish Glee character Rachel, in a particularly annoying moment in one episode, was told by classmates to move to Israel. I doubt the writers coordinated this telling joke with the State Department - sorry J Street, Jews do equal Israel in the eyes of the world.)
Helen, you know why we were in Germany and much of Eastern Europe in the first place? And by the way, if I follow your advice, do you think the nice old ladies who got my grandmothers large houses and farms from the Nazis in what was once Czechoslovakia will kick the property back two generations? That would be cool because Id love a vineyard and an agricultural estate.
Well, we were in Germany and Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Russia (where we were regularly just plain killed by Cossacks), and also, for many centuries, Poland (ditto), because we were told to get the hell out of England, France, and Spain. Or, you know, just plain killed by handsome and heroic fairytale knights.
And you know why we were in Western Europe to begin with? Because we were told by the Greeks and the Romans - wait for it - to get the hell out of Palestine, where we had been living since the beginning of recorded history.
We also ended up in Babylonia (Iraq) and other Middle Eastern and North African countries, where we stayed as second class citizens for hundreds and hundreds of years, till the Arab world finally caught up with the pagans and the Christians in their hatred of the Jews. But I digress.
By the way, I am aware that the Arab narrative has us Ashkenazi Jews as descendants of the Khazars, but the actual facts have it different. See this new DNA study linking European Jews with their Middle Eastern counterparts, all stemming from one original population of Holy Land Jews predating Roman times. Never mind our own texts that say the same thing; I know they are inadmissible in the international high courts of justice of the mind.
In any event, there is no way around it: Jews being asked, usually not by old ladies on the White House lawn, to get the hell out of everywhere is just the way it goes.
So it came to pass that about 200 BCE the Maccabees got sick of it and established a Jewish state in Palestine, within the Roman Empire, which lasted till about the time of Jesus (another pesky Jew) and the destruction of the Second Temple.
And it also came to pass that Jews began arriving in Ottoman Palestine in the late 1800s, after the Russians and the Poles made it clear that they were persona non grata in Eastern Europe. Palestine was as good a place as any to flee to, since it was the last place, about 2,000 years before, in which the Jews had a sovereign state (see above). Never mind Jewish liturgy and texts pining for Jerusalem, since I know these, too, are inadmissible in those international mental courts.
Anyway, nowhere else wanted European Jews any more than Russia did, not even America really, where there were very strict quotas, although the Americans, again politely, refrained from all the messy European killing, which was apparently in vogue until after Adolf. Besides, those Ottoman Turks, then as now, were known around the world for their amazing human rights activism and the Jews were excited to see it first hand. No, not really. Butthey were better than the Polish peasants. Unless you were Armenian.
It is true that there were people in Palestine before the Jews arrived en masse (for there was always a handful of Jews here), not "A People" per se, but rather a group of assorted regional Arabs (think Native American tribes in North America) who had settled the area with not much agricultural success and had endured various rulers over the millennia.
But when the Jews came back, it was suddenly necessary, once again, to tell them to get the hell out. There was no living side by side, even though that was an express Jewish desire right up until 1947/8, when the Partition Plan was summarily rejected by the Arab League, who started the war that Israel won. If keeping land you win in a war others provoke (when you wanted to make peace) is called occupation, dear Helen, the worlds axis of furious justice has a lot bigger fish to fry than Israel.
The Arab desire to kick the Jews the hell out of Palestine did not begin in 1967, and not in 1948. It began the moment the first groups of Jews arrived and started to make the land flower and produce crops. Thats when the attacks on Jews began, and when the Arab world decided a new Jewish presence in the land would not do, back when there were about half a million Arabs and just under 100,000 Jews in the Holy Land, in the early 1900s. Twenty percent was too much, apparently, to bear. (The Hebron Massacre of 1929, in which dozens of Jews were killed and wounded, took place long before a single house was built over the Green Line)
I can only imagine how awful it was - probably for both the Arabs and the British - when it became clear we were here to stay and grow to much further percentages. We are that annoying, what with trying to get rid of malaria and swamps and tuberculosis and all that.
At any rate, it seems that every time a Jewish minority starts to make a society too successful, the indigenous people start to feel very uncomfortable, and tells them one way or another to get the hell out.
But now, alas, there is nowhere left for us to go, except the eternal place Ahmadinejad wants us to go, and Haniyeh and Nasrallah, and Hitler before them, and Chemilniki before him, and Haman before him, and so on.
I know that Israel has made mistakes during its 62 years, some clumsy and inept, and some borderline immoral. But none worse than every other democracy on earth has also done, and most much better than the large majority of the UN rogue nations which condemn Israel daily have done, daily.
There is much to improve in the way we govern, I will be the first to say it. I will also be the first to say that Jews of the Bernie Madoff ilk make me want to crawl under a rock. I know that the world is only waiting for these guys to pop up in order to pin their crimes on all of us, even though everything they do is in direct contradiction of actual Jewish values.
But lets be honest, the international communitys human rights crusades on behalf of the Palestinians are just the latest Crusades, and the ones who really suffer are not the Jews or the Israelis, but the poor occupants of the Third World who are ignored while the enlightened First World castigates the Jews.
So heres the thing: We are not going anywhere this time, Helen. We totally get it: Yall pretty much hate us. Its just the way it is, like a natural law. Nothing we can do - not giving away pieces of the land, not donating billions to charity, nor discovering a cure for polio or the Theory of Relativity, or writing revered legal and religious texts, or founding Google and Facebook, or manufacturing the microprocessor in the majority of laptops that spew Jew hatred onto the Internet, or founding Christianity itself, or championing womens rights and gay rights in the U.S. and helping to bring about a human rights revolution in America in the '60s. None of those things will absolve us of our real sin: Existing and overcoming.
But this time, seriously. Getting the hell out is not in the cards. Were just sick of moving all the time. I know. Irritating.
Im really sorry they told you to get the hell out of the White House, Helen. It really wasnt your fault that you thought you could say what you said. Its not like its a secret: Thats what people think.
(Read Sara K. Eisen's full post here)
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now