Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Killing the Golda Goose

One of the first recorded genocides in history was the one perpetrated on the Canaanites by the Israelites. This was not only commanded, but also aided, by God, according to the Old Testament. The subsequent punishments inflicted on the Israelites, and later the Jews, were not based on their actions against the Canaanites and the other tribes that got in their way, but on their many instances of idolatry, heresy, blasphemy, and rebellion against God – the ultimate (moving to the New Testament now, and subsequent history) being the crucifixion of the Messiah, which was followed in short order by the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of the Jews to the four corners of the known world.

Now fast forward to 1948 and the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Golda Meir is alleged to have said (although I can't find the quote right now) that “now we can do anything” -- meaning that with the “Holocaust” a recent event and the powers that won World War II falling all over themselves to somehow, if at all possible, make amends to the Jews for all that they had suffered, Israel would be, and remain, immune from criticism or blame for anything that it did militarily, politically, or economically, indefinitely – presumably until the end of time. In other words, an infinite offense had to be compensated by an infinite and endless privileged status. And once that premise was firmly established, Israel began the ethnic cleansing of the portion of Palestine that had been turned over to the Jews – and this was far from a peaceful process, as it included not only harassment and forced removal, but also persecution and massacres reminiscent of the pogroms against the Jews in eastern Europe. Ironic, to say the least. But it was all considered perfectly acceptable to the European powers and the United States, because, after all, hadn't the Jews just paid a huge price for being who, and what, they were, and weren't they entitled to limitless reparations (especially as long as someone else had to bear the heaviest burden)? And besides, Palestine had been described – in one of the most brilliant propaganda coups of all time – as “a land without a people for a people without a land” -- and this was accepted as an obvious truth by the powers that be. And besides, even in the unlikely event that there were any people living there, what were a bunch of scruffy, filthy Arabs compared to the noble and long-suffering Jewish race? And I suppose there was still a bit of unfinished business for Europe left over from Ottoman Empire days... or, for those with a really long memory, the Crusades. Better to turn the holy places over to the Jews, who were are least friends with Europe and the U.S., than to leave them in infidel hands, right? So, if a little bit of rearranging of people was involved, that was a small price to pay – a trivial price, in fact, and one that could be safely ignored and not juxtaposed with any concepts of "rights". The Jews had suffered enough... and now it was someone else's turn, if it came to that. Plus, hadn't the Palestinian leadership been, by and large, sympathetic with the Axis? Hadn't the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem been a Nazi, for all intents and purposes? So clearly the Palestinians were guilty of what we now know as “hate”, which is a punishable offense.

Plus, where else were the Jews supposed to go? Many of them -- quite understandably -- felt a bit creepy just going back to the place of their recent troubles. (If I were Jewish, I sure wouldn't have been too happy getting off a train in Munich in the summer of 1945.) And despite the fact that many more politically-palatable alternatives had been proposed for a Jewish state than setting it up in Palestine, the Zionist cause had already been running full tilt for many decades, and here was a golden opportunity to bring it all to pass. So they landed in Palestine with both feet, as the saying goes, and proceeded to start pushing and shoving the Palestinians out of the way, or fencing them off in what were, in effect, concentration camps or ghettos. And no one was troubled by the eerie resemblance of all this to the recent Jewish experience! This is what I find incredible. No sooner were the Jews liberated from the European ghettos and Nazi concentration camps than they carried the blueprints with them to the Near East. But as Golda said, or implied, the offenses against the Jews had been infinite, and no finite act could ever cancel them out; the Jews had carte blanche in perpetuity. And to further reassure themselves and the rest of the world as to the rightness of their cause, and their actions, the Holocaust narrative was developed and its dissemination throughout the world begun – a process that continues to this day, with museums, books, movies, plays, TV shows, and so on, all providing a million variations on the same theme – and for what purpose? Some would say, to make as many people as possible feel guilty for something they never did to people they never knew. But one thing is certain -- it is not simply a matter of “never forgetting” -- it's also a matter of justifying anything that is ever done in the name of “never again”, even if this involves subjecting other people – other religious/ethnic groups – to some of the same treatment. How this could ever have been considered fair, or just, is beyond me, except that the Jews really do seem to have an image of themselves as special and exceptional and unique – not necessarily even because God wills it so, because many of the people who are most militant on this point are completely secular in their outlook. Well, if God didn't make the Jews unique, then who, or what, did? But they are silent on this question -- it is just supposed to be accepted as axiomatic.

Now, Jewish delusion and grandiosity are one thing. But note that the European powers, and the U.S., bought into it completely back in the late 1940s... and the U.S. has never wavered since, even though the European powers have been a bit less reliable in terms of keeping the faith. So while the preservation and support of Israel as a foreign-policy goal tends to rise and fall with various political trends in Europe, it is a hard and fast pillar of American foreign policy. In fact, some will contend that it _is_ American foreign policy – that everything else is detail (especially since the Soviet breakup).

But now let's look at the whole thing from another perspective. There is a concept, from Eastern religions, known as “karma”, and I have always found it very useful. And while it is not part of Christian doctrine per se, the general idea is actually quite familiar, to Christians and Jews alike. Whenever you read in the Bible – in the Old Testament in particular – of a given offense, by a given group, being subject to punishment by God, it almost always involves punishing more than just the direct perpetrators. Oftentimes the curse is extended to the whole group, and even beyond that, unto many succeeding generations. And yet in other cases it is specific individuals who get punished for specific acts, and the guilt does not extend to their relatives, descendants, city, tribe, or nation. What constitutes the difference? It seems that there are at least two levels of justice involved. When a group is offended, or persecuted, by another group for reasons having to do with the collective nature or identity of the respective groups, it has karmic consequences. (Think about how our politicians justify defining certain crimes as “hate crimes”.) When it's a one-on-one, individual offense against an individual, it tends not to have karmic consequences. So the “Holocaust”, because it was perpetrated by an entire nation and its collaborators upon an entire race, is a prime candidate for karmic significance. And by that criterion, the “guilt trip” that Jewish organizations continue to lay on Germany, and the Germans, could be said to have some sort of cosmic validity... as does the guilt trip the Armenians lay on the Turks, or the Indians on white Americans, or blacks on white Americans... and so on. The trick – if we believe that this notion has some merit – is to separate it from politics. My answer is that it's a lot easier to recognize than to implement – in fact, it may, in a paradoxical way, be karmically unsound to even attempt to “implement” karma. Here's what I mean. I'd be willing to argue that much of the continued burden imposed on the white race in America by the black race in America is karmic. In other words, it's not just a matter of politics, or economics, or sociology, or any of the rest of it – it really and truly is a form of punishment, retribution, or payback for slavery, on a cosmic scale. (The black leadership certainly agrees with this, as do liberal historians.) But when the government steps in and tries to exploit the process – accelerate it or distort it in some way – that doesn't accomplish anything; in fact, it tends to cancel out the karmic “credit” the victim group possesses, as well as the karmic “debt” the perpetrating group possesses. So, for example, something like forced busing or the worst abuses of “affirmative action” may appear to aid and abet the black cause, but in fact the damage they do to interracial relations more than cancels out that advantage, so you wind up with a net negative effect, i.e. things are worse after the program is implemented than they were before. So in a way karma is something that has to be allowed to run its course -- recognize it, deal with it, but don't attempt to either fight it or speed up the process. (And I know, this sounds very Eastern and mystical and detached -- but it's meant to.)

It's interesting to observe that political power and what I call “karmic power” are almost always inversely correlated. And as one rises, the other falls. So Jews in Europe during the Third Reich suffered a sudden and catastrophic drop in political power, to the point of being considered non-persons who had to be exterminated like vermin... but at the same time, I'll argue, their karmic power – the product of their suffering and martyrdom – was on the rise. This trajectory reached its zenith just before the concentration camps were liberated – and notice how soon the process started to reverse itself. I've read anecdotes of some male concentration camp inmates – clearly the healthier ones – heading for the nearest town to visit brothels the minute they were liberated. That may be seen as a small thing – but it illustrates how little some people are inclined to meditate on the significance of their situation. Who would want to take all that “moral authority” and start to (not quite literally) piss it away at the earliest possible opportunity? I suppose it's based on a common mind set in our times, the notion that because there are no moral absolutes, there are, therefore, no moral consequences of any given action or non-action. Again, the secular Jews have a problem “explaining” the Holocaust. If there was nothing morally, or philosophically, stopping the Nazis, then what grounds does anyone have for objecting to anything they did? Moral relativism is all fine and dandy until something really bad happens, then you're more or less up the creek in terms of figuring out what it all means. This is why, in my opinion, the secular Jews in particular continue, after 60 years, to obsess endlessly about the "Holocaust". They know it was wrong, but they can't figure out why – not in principle, at any rate. It must be very frustrating. And because they can't figure out why it was wrong, they also can't figure out how to make it “right”, i.e. by reviving at least Old Testament morality and, possibly, cultivating an attitude of acceptance (an attitude very familiar in stories of Christian martyrs and saints, by the way).

But to get back to Israel – a mere three years after the victory over Germany, the State of Israel is established, riding a world-wide wave of sympathy, support (economic, military, and political), and – karma. But then what happens? They start to, in a word, blow it, by pushing aside and, in many cases, outright killing the Palestinians – the modern-day inheritors of the Canaanites, if you will. Thus history repeats itself – and both sides of the conflict were acutely aware of this. After nearly 2000 years of the Diaspora, the Jews were back and ready to kick ass – which they did, with surprising zeal and aggressiveness, since the stereotype of Jews for centuries had been that they were a “non-physical” people who avoided hard labor and warfare. So the meek, humble, frail, droopy rabbi of the shtetl and the ghetto was all of a sudden replaced, in the world's eyes, by the tall, tanned, muscular, Uzi-toting IDF guy (or his female counterpart, who was just as tanned and hardly less muscular). This new Jewish image may have reached its peak with General Moshe Dayan – you know, the guy with the eye-patch -- and his daughter, but it certainly persists in the images of Israeli troops in combat.

All well and good – any group of people has a right to self-defense. But when its survival depends on its being forcibly inserted into territory already occupied by another group, and its perpetuation on having to subjugate that group, you're going to inevitably run into trouble... and that cosmic hourglass labeled “karma” is going to start running out. So what might have seemed reasonable, and just, at one time is now looked at, by more and more of the world all the time, as having being unfair and unjust, and possibly as having been a huge mistake to begin with. When Iran's Ahmadinejad says he wants Israel “wiped off the map”, is he being “anti-Semitic”? Not necessarily! Maybe all he wants is to give the land that now constitutes the State of Israel, plus Israeli-occupied territory, back to the Palestinians. I don't think he would want to pursue the Jews to the ends of the earth to kill them all off; all he wants is to get them out of Palestine. And think about it – how many other groups besides the Palestinians have been run off their native land since World War II – or if not run off, then held virtual prisoner on that land? Very few. The Palestinian/Israeli situation stands out like a sore thumb in this respect, as well as in many others. It's not only a violation of all the U.N. is supposed to stand for, but of contemporary standards of civilization and civilized behavior. And it's all because this situation was “different”, somehow. Well, it _was_ different. The Jews had been through hell and had survived in sufficient numbers to successfully bid for a homeland... and the European powers and the U.S. had granted them one, in an area that was a undefended backwater. The problem is, the entire Arab/Moslem world was driven into a blind rage, and that rage continues to this day (those people are very good at rage, you have to admit). So what seemed, at the time, to be an expedient and painless solution – _our_ “final solution to the Jewish question" -- turned out to be, arguably, one of the biggest diplomatic blunders of the 20th Century. And the price is still being paid – not only by the Israelis and Palestinians, but by the entire Arab/Moslem world, and especially by the United States, now that Europe has, basically, called in sick on the whole affair. Our involvement with Israel, in addition to costing us billions in “aid” money over the years, led directly to the 9-11 attacks, which led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had a lot to do with our current economic woes, which are now spreading world-wide (especially to the delight of Russia, which has never been much of a friend to Israel or to its own Jews since the time of Trotsky, and which sees nothing but good news in America's being on the ropes).

And what I'm saying is that all of these things have not only the obvious material consequences, but also karmic consequences. Israel is as politically powerful as it has ever been, and, by extension, the Jews are as politically powerful as they have ever been. This is, per se, not a bad thing, except for the side effects in the form of Palestinian suffering and economic exploitation of the American taxpayer – and more recently the military exploitation of the U.S. And now the disease has spread world-wide with the recession/depression. Does Israel bear sole responsibility for all this? Of course not. But is the situation in the Near East, which is, arguably, not only unsustainable but downright bizarre, one of the main contributors? Yes. But the only people who are willing to blame Zionism – at least in public – are characters like Ahmadinejad. Sober, balanced, reasonable thinkers have self-censored on the subject, with rare exceptions.

And what does it all mean in karmic terms? Has Israel used up the “karmic power” it inherited from the Holocaust? Should they now be considered just another place – just another country – with no particular privileges, and a pain in the ass to boot? To put it another way, is this all that those 6 million got for their sacrifice? One certainly hopes not. But after being dealt possibly the strongest political, and even moral, hand in history, one can argue that Israel has misplayed it, to a great extent – frittered it away with oppressive and short-sighted policies. What was supposed to be a Zionist paradise is an armed camp on life support from the U.S., and within its boundaries are hundreds of thousands of second-class, or non-, citizens living in squalid conditions. Can this possibly be what God wants, as in days of old? If you ask the Evangelicals, they will say absolutely yes. But I'd like to see more evidence than the bloodthirsty ravings of a bunch of heretical, bouffant-coiffed televangelists.

Basically, I think the situation is immoral, unjust, absurd, squalid, and shameful all around. Is this all that is left of the “moral high ground”? And if so, whose fault is it? Is it the fault of the European and American diplomats after World War II, who were just looking for a way to placate the Jews and get them off their case -- and as far away from Europe as possible? Is it the delusional thinking of the Zionists – both past and present – that dictates that they must, at all costs, return to the land that was promised to Moses? Or maybe it's the exertions of the “Christian Zionists”, for whom the survival of Israel takes priority over the survival of the United States. Most likely it's all of the above, and more. In any case, it's an impossible situation, and it's a miracle of sorts that it has persisted for so long without a major cataclysm bringing an end to it – one way or the other.

Has Israel used up all its karmic power? Has the stock of privilege Golda Meir boasted of run dry? If not, how much longer can the situation go on? And if so, what will be the result – and how much more can the U.S. be expected to support, put up with, or tolerate, before it falls on the Israeli funeral pyre?

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