Opinion

We Won’t Forgive, but Forget We Will

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint press conference at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. March 31, 2019
AFP

Jair Bolsonaro, the Bibi of Brazil, said: “We can forgive but we cannot forget.” Such temerity.

No wonder our Bibi immediately showered him with fire and brimstone...that is, he would have showered him with fire and brimstone if Bolsonaro wasn’t a man after his own heart: a racist, admirer of tyrants, fan of torture and utter historical ignoramus. That is, a sworn lover of Israel. So our Bibi restrained himself and said not a word. A covenant between Bibis.

But some people were angry. And out of habit, wrath was vented only on the first part of Bolsonaro’s message: “We can forgive,” did he say? No, we cannot. And we will not, either. Not only because of the infinite monstrosity of the crimes but also because...how to put this delicately? “We won’t forgive” is quite a fruitful asset. Effective. Useful. Both politically and financially. So thanks, but no thanks. We won’t forgive.

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“Forget” is another thing. “To forget,” as opposed to the gospel according to Bolsonaro, is actually allowed. Even desirable. In fact, it’s rather the custom in our quarters.

Not that we’ve forgotten, perish the thought, the victims of the Holocaust. Not the gas chambers nor the extermination camps. Such careless forgetting could impair our essential victimhood. But how and when all that abomination took place, that which we will never forgive – that, we tend to forget. Devotedly, carefully and enthusiastically.

As far as we’re concerned, the Holocaust started in Auschwitz. The years between 1930 and 1939 are a black hole in our memory. We have forgotten how a small group of arrogant and evil racists, convinced that they are members of the chosen people, took over a country and turned its citizens into predatory animals.

We have forgotten how they spoke of us and of our ancestors as if we were inhuman. Sewer rats and lechers, cheats, swindlers, evil, greedy, subversive conspirators seeking to destroy them.

We have forgotten what they wrote on our houses, on our businesses, on our clothing, or houses of prayer and sometimes on our very flesh, that they demanded of the chosen people not to buy from us and not to employ us, not to enter our communities or allow us to enter theirs.

We have forgotten the thugs of racial purity who persecuted, beat, ostracized and humiliated the “assimilated” who dared “mingle” blood with blood and people with people, befriend us on a park bench, “mix” our inferior children with their pure children in the schools. We’ve forgotten how the proud national mob found release for its dark urges on our backs. Human animals who did not shrink from abusing fathers before the eyes of their children.

We have forgotten the license, first with a wink and then outright, to kill us as if we were birds in hunting season. We have forgotten how we were expelled from our homes and our homelands. How our property was stolen and given to the chosen people. How we were locked up in ghettos, surrounded by barbed wire and trigger-happy soldiers.

We forgot that array of “nation”-inspired laws that were passed to determine who could marry whom. Who could live where and where they could not. Who could purchase real estate and who could not. Who was entitled by his blood to citizenship and who was not. Who was degraded by genetics and who was elevated. Who would die by genetics and who would not.

We have forgotten all these things. We have forgotten, and learned nothing. Because that way it is easier to run the empire. Because only that way can we do to others what we are doing, without feeling the poisonous mockery of history, and without losing one iota of our sacred right never to forgive those who did this to us.