Thursday, January 31, 2008

Zionists should not be allowed to trivialise the tragedy of the Holocaust

Arun Gandhi has perhaps not expressed himself adequately as he has himself admitted when he talked of the Jews being locked into the past. But he has moved in the right direction.

We have to state certain issues in the most unambiguous language. The Holocaust is the most barbaric act ever committed by a civilised and cultured country under the spell of a demonic ideology. There is no scope for extenuating in the least the unforgivable crime of the Nazis and Hitler. Yes. All Germans were morally implicated because for a moment the nation lost its sense of balance and supported an evil force.Blaming the Nazis and Hitler and the Germans is not enough. There were others in the rest of the Western world who just turned a blind eye to the persecution of Jews through the 1930s. Among them were Winston Churchill and Frank Delano Roosevelt.

And in some ways, every country and every people have to be on the guard against the Nazi tendency because the dark, blind side of human nature. And this includes the Jews themselves. It should be remembered that even as we feel the moral repugnance of what the Nazis did to the Jews we must realise that we are basically using this sense of repugnance as a warning to ourselves lest we descend into the same pit of hatred.

The ordinary Jews have been coping with this huge tragedy with great moral resilience. They have been meditating on human nature and divine dispensation as such instead of merely demonising the Nazis and the Germans.But this has not been the case with the Zionists and the state of Israel they have created in an unjust and unfair manner. The Zionist colonisers in Palestine since the 1920s have shown the same intolerance towards the Palestinians that the Germans in the 1930s, and much of Western Christendom over the centuries, have shown the Jews. Anti-Semitism was not the invention of the Nazis. It is a legacy of Western Christianity, which goes against the very basis of the teachings of Jesus.

The problem is with the Zionists, the Jews who are not religious, who are secular to the core -- nothing wrong in that, of course -- and who are hell bent on creating a safe political haven for the Jews. The Zionist intention to create a Jewish state is understandable but it is full of inconsistencies and contradictions. How can irreligious Zionists think of creating a state based on the religious identity of the Jews? The Zionists had also adopted the same imperialistic assumptions of their European persecutors when they settled in Palestine.

The more problematic question is the use of Holocaust by Israel. It has been the most immoral political action imaginable. Israel and its American lobbies have been trivialising -- there can be no greater profanity than to use the tragic suffering of a people -- the Holocaust to win political support for all the arrogant actins of the state of Israel against the Palestinians.

It has to be noted here that in their impotent rage, Palestinians and other Arabs have been trying to downplay the terror and tragedy of the Holocaust. Even the most sensitive Arabs turn around and argue in a naive manner: 'Why should the Arabs pay for the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust?" It is not only an impolitic response, but it is also morally unacceptable. By doing so, the Arabs have given the Israelis and Zionists an opportunity to make political use of Holocaust. It is time the Arabs condemn the Holocaust in no uncertain terms. It is a moral imperative.

Perhaps, Arun Gandhi might have been insensitive in suggesting that the Jews move beyond the memory of Holocaust though that was not what he meant. What he meant perhaps was that Israel must stop playing the Holocaust card. At another level, he might have been suggesting the need for next step beyond suffering and mourning.

The goal of all suffering and mourning is redemption, the attainment of grace and freedom. Mourning and remembrance cannot be ends in themselves. And that is what religion tells us. The end of religious is happiness. That is why, in ancient Greece, the suffering of Oedipus in Oedipus ends in grace and redemption in Oedipus at Colon. Similarly, the sufferings and tribulations of Job in the Old Testament end in the restoration of his family and possessions and of happiness.

There is need for Jews to move to happiness. It does not mean forgetting Holocaust. But the act of remembering the Holocaust is not to create just a sense of horror and anguish, revulsion and anger. Remembrance should be a process of catharsis through pity and terror.

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