So long as you are Jewish you will have nowhere to run
June 5, 2001 12:54 PM   Subscribe

So long as you are Jewish you will have nowhere to run You will be hunted down everywhere you go just because you are Jewish. I can't blame them for thinking that but is it really true anymore?
posted by fooljay (40 comments total)
Continuing...The idea behind the Jewish state of Israel is to give Jews their home (back?) and protection from persecution. Right? Well, the home thing I can understand although the Palestinians also have a, possibly more legitimate, claim (due to displacement).

If this whole thing boils down from freedom of persecution, is Israel as a Jewish state still relevant? (Please don't take offense at that, I'm just asking for intelligent discussion of the issue, because frankly I'm interested in what people have to say)
posted by fooljay at 12:59 PM on June 5, 2001

Israel sure hasn't worked out the way everyone thought it would.

but there's no going back now. it's going to exist, and the palestinians are still going to exist, and both sides have got to accept that and work out a way for everyone to be safe and treated equally.

posted by rebeccablood at 1:02 PM on June 5, 2001

whenever i think of israel, i can't help but think of america back when we were pioneering and taking land from native americans. while granted, the israelis have some historical claim to the land, the reality is that the palestinians are there now. that's just the way it is. and the reality of the situation now is not organized resistance against an army, but against a civilization through terrorism. it may not reflect highly on the individuals carrying out the acts, but it's the inevitable scenario in my opinion. you can't brute force things the way the USA did way back when. that's not to say the US did the right thing or anything, it's more like we got away with it. i just don't think israel can get away with it now. the repeated attempts to settle on more land out there just seem hardheaded and moronic to me...
posted by moz at 1:08 PM on June 5, 2001

Clearly even Arafat has reached the point where peace makes more sense than any other course, but, alas, Hamas announced today that no matter what, it will continue to use suicide bombers etc and will not stop the intifada. I expect that Israel will finally reach the end of the line and make a total separation between its very tiny state (smaller than Jersey) and the surrounding arabs, and that what is left to the Palestinaisn will be a state that is no state. Note that for all the talk and bluster, the Arab states (not the Palestinians) want no part of war with Israel, send money to the Palestinians as a gesture of support, and take no refugees in.
I am not sure what Hamas thinks it will gain, but I suspect that there will soon be a conflict between Hamas and those more anxious for a state, peace, and improving their economy....
There is plenty wrong on both sides. And that being the case, it can be in part made better or partially righted only at a table where both sides can discuss things. Not by continuation of a non-win intifada, which is wrecking the lives of many from either side.
posted by Postroad at 1:09 PM on June 5, 2001

i don't get how some people think arafat can wave his hand and stop all palestinian terrorist acts, either. he may have influence, but for some reason it's seemed to me that the israeli government and their people seem to think that whatever he says goes in all cases, and i just don't believe that.
posted by moz at 1:17 PM on June 5, 2001

I suppose what I was asking is: Is another Holocaust really possible? My thought is that it isn't because the memory is so vivid and will continue to be thanks to the efforts of many who never want it to happen again.

If it's not again possible, then the whole thing really boils down to a territorial dispute, no?
posted by fooljay at 1:18 PM on June 5, 2001

It's not clear to me if you're asking if horrific violence targeted by race/ethnicity/religion is still possible, or if specific anti-Jewish sentiment still exists to the level where it could turn more catastrophic than it currently is. In either case, I'd say yes.

Read David Rohde's Endgame on the Bosnian conflicts, or Philip Gourevitch's We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families on Rwanda.

For me, the Israeli/Palestinian struggle is not in itself about anti-Semitism, though occasionally the media coverage makes those sorts of links. The idea of a Jewish homeland is a very powerful idea for me, specifically in the face of the anti-Semitism that I and most of the Jews I know have faced at one time or another. The current Israeli government is not creating that homeland - the values and the policies are not, at the core, the sorts of Jewish values I cherish. Still, I'm worried for my friends and family who are there, but saddened to see Israelis feel that they can't live in peace and safety.
posted by judith at 1:38 PM on June 5, 2001

If the Bible is right, the Jews (since they see themselves as God's chosen people) have a lot of persecution to look forward to.

Anything is possible. There's so many people only fifty-five years later that have no clue what the phrase "never again" applies to that I think mass genocide is a likely, not remote, possibility. It may not target the Jews, but then again it might -- they've been a popular target throughout history.
posted by OneBallJay at 1:41 PM on June 5, 2001

There have already been other holocausts. Serbia. Rwanda. The human instinct for murder is easily perverted into the banal evil of genocide.

And let's not forget that "Jew" does not necessarily equal "supporter of Israel." I think what the nation of Israel is doing is barbaric and appalling. But this is what you get when you have a country supposedly founded by God, and when everyone in the government thinks they're King David.
posted by solistrato at 1:43 PM on June 5, 2001

arafat is the one with the biggest stake in appearing to be in power. if he admits that he controls no one and speaks for no one in particular, he loses all status.

it's always possible for there to be a holocaust: there have been many atrocities committed since WWII. look at rwanda. look at cambodia. look all around the world.

are jewish people around the world in danger of being systematically exterminated? no where that I know about.

are they more in danger of being systematically exterminated in general than other unpopular groups are? I don't think so. in the west, I think they are less in danger now than they have been in most of western history, when governments were uniformly christian, and jews were regularly targeted for all kinds of abuse.

are they safer in israel than they are in, say, chicago illinois? it depends, but right now, probably not.

so, yes, I'd characterize it as a territorial dispute. but it's one that won't go away until both sides make an honest effort to compromise.

posted by rebeccablood at 1:46 PM on June 5, 2001

Judith, I think I was asking more specifically about another Jewish holocaust... It seems to me that those of Jewish faith would basically have a "hall pass" from here on out because of the living memory of the Holocaust, and because they have spread so far and wide, with many in positions of influence worldwide.

Thanks for the thoughtful response. That's the sort of thing I was wondering. Also, thanks for the reading recommendations.

Also, Rebecca, I agree. I can't imagine this somehow "going away"...
posted by fooljay at 1:50 PM on June 5, 2001

Genocide is always possible, but the Palestinians don't seem to have the level of organization necessary to move beyond guerrilla warfare.

The real problem is not a question of territory. The end goal for the Palestinians is not compromise, it's the eradication of Israel itself. The Palestinians don't want to live peacefully next to Israel; they want to destroy Israel. There's no way to negotiate around that.

And Israel will not be pushed much farther. I'm watching from the USA, but I'm afraid.
posted by swerve at 1:52 PM on June 5, 2001

i worry that there might be concentration camps forming out of this, but not for jews: rather, for palestinians. but if it ever got to that point, there would have to be all out war between arab nations and israel before, though if not before then certainly after.
posted by moz at 1:53 PM on June 5, 2001

swerve, good job in identifying that palestinian extremists speak for everyone. you've got a sharp mind.
posted by moz at 1:55 PM on June 5, 2001

I read that linked comment this morning off of the Yahoo! news report and wondered about the second sentence linked above. The thread's gone off in a slightly different direction, but, read this again:

You will be hunted down everywhere you go just because you are Jewish.

How true is that, in this modern, post-Holocaust world? As quick as we in the West are to bash on other countries that give even the beginnings of signs we could interpret as leading to genocidal behavior - witness the Taliban and the latest "labelling of the Hindus" episode - is it at all likely that any Jew, anywhere, is going to be "hunted down... just because you are Jewish"? And then I wondered, are Israeli children taught that in school - I mean, is it a cultural value of Israel as a nation that its citizens cannot safely leave? I'm geniunely curious about this, because I tend to be more pro-Palestinian (not pro-terrorist, mind you, but pro-Palestinian as opposed to pro-Israeli)...
posted by m.polo at 1:59 PM on June 5, 2001

Jay, there's no hall pass.

I grew up in the rural south as one of very few Jews in my community. I was asked by a neighbor if I really had horns. I was told by a public school teacher that I was going to burn in hell for killing Jesus. I was graded down on an exam (in public school) for not knowing the Lord's Prayer (which hadn't been taught in class but the teacher assumed everyone knew it by heart). Another teacher asked me if my name was Jewish and if I was rich because I was Jewish.

None of these episodes were at all violent. But each of these people had a level of ignorance and a bias against Jews that sets a disturbing precedent for someone truly insane and/or violent to pull the merely ignorant and biased along with them. You only have to look as far back as our own Civil Rights movement to see that.
posted by judith at 2:02 PM on June 5, 2001

I'm honestly not trying to be a nitpicky Prescriptivist Grammar Jerk, but what exactly is this supposed to mean?

The human instinct for murder is easily perverted into the banal evil of genocide.

"Banal evil" sounds like an oxymoron to me, especially in that sentence. I certainly hope genocide is never banal!
posted by binkin at 2:08 PM on June 5, 2001

With no disrespect intended, I feel that the extremists are speaking for everyone. Palestinian society right now teaches and supports extremism.
posted by swerve at 2:12 PM on June 5, 2001

Judith, you just eloquently summed up why I left the South (I'm from New Orleans) and refuse to move back (caveat: Texas isn't in the South AFAIC).

The level of ignorance of anyone or anything but that which one embodies is astounding.
posted by fooljay at 2:12 PM on June 5, 2001

Dear Binkin: I believe the term (banal) was taken from the H.Arendt book --the banality of evil, which she said applied to those doing the work of the nazi elite, business-like as though just a job that needed to be done. the term and the ideas has been argued both ways.
posted by Postroad at 2:15 PM on June 5, 2001

judith: good God.

on the other hand, I think it's worth noting that most of the country doesn't hold these ideas - at least, I hope not. anyone else out there grow up with this level of ignorance?

I grew up in the midwest and was never exposed to any of that thinking. I was 20 when someone asked me if one of my professors was jewish - based on his name. I was greatly fascinated by the concept of names that were typically jewish for a while after that.

and there's a huge difference between pockets of ignorance and intolerance, and the genuine prospect of a nationwide (or even state-wide) action to control or exterminate a group of people.

the question is, are there places in the world where this is still likely? and how is this different than what is happening right now to many other groups? in other words, are jewish people around the world in a special danger that other ethnic groups are not?

and - perhaps most importantly - why do some groups who are being systematically oppressed and/or killed get media (and therefore our) attention, while others do not? and what can we really do about these situations, anyway?


ps - judith, I hope your parents complained to that teacher about the lord's prayer test.
posted by rebeccablood at 2:17 PM on June 5, 2001

i have a friend from lubbock texas who once told me about the extreme fundamentalism there. he's an agnostic now, and he catches hell from his parents and his old friends there.
posted by moz at 2:22 PM on June 5, 2001

Judith, those are some great points (among others, but yours stood out). The fact is that Jews have been persecuted around the world, and have only had a homeland for 50 years. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have only been displaced for their original homeland for 50 years, and have only been occupied for 34 years.

So I think it's natural that both groups are extreme and will follow extremists. They're both new at this, despite the tripe you might read about this being a 'historical conflict.' The Palestinian territories are held by the Israelis because of fear, the Palestinians demand their land and lives back out of anger and outrage.

It is clear to outsiders that Israel would be a safer and more peaceful country, and have far better relations with its neighbors and the rest of the world, if they would fully withdraw from the lands they occupied in 1967, share Jerusalem, and allow a limited right of return for refugees as well as some compensatory action.

It's clear to outsiders that the Palestinians would be safer and happier if they gave up claims to all of historic Palestine and a full right of return of refugees.

From the inside though it looks quite different. Jews are terrified that if they give up anything, they will have to give up everything. Despite the fact that this is next to impossible, this is how people feel. Palestinians are angry and want to return to their lands and homes, even though this is also next to impossible.

Which is precisely why outside intervention is the ONLY way this conflict will ever be solved. A fair and just peace can be achieved, but only through honest and fair international pressure. Having studied this issue in college, grad-school, and beyond, and having made several trips to the region and talked with some of the principal players as well as lots of ordinary people on both sides, I am pretty sure they will never do it on their own, sad as it sounds. The Jews are too scared, and the Palestinians are too mad.
posted by FPN at 2:29 PM on June 5, 2001

What do you mean, is another Holocaust really possible? We've had several genocides after world war two. Rwanda springs to mind. As far as I can tell the west didn't care at all. Most of the killing was done in a three month time span. It would have been easy to intervene. It would also have cost the west causalities and money but nothing like the 800,000 people that died from our inaction. The United State stood by and let the Cambodian state kill it's own people and then had the nerve to condemn Vietnam for invading. It's ugly and people don't want to admit it but the difference between these genocides and the Holocaust is that the Holocaust took place in Europe. Wait, that's too strong a statement. We (as in FDR) had knowledge of the Holocaust as early as 1942 yet chose to do nothing to slow the killing so in that sense it's true that the west really didn't care about the Holocaust either. My point is not that Rwanda or Cambodia are the same as the Holocaust. Neither is my point that the people who participated in the Holocaust or subsequent genocides are anything other than evil. My point it is that nation states have the capability to slaughter huge numbers of innocent people and that some states will use that capability. So the answer is that another Holocaust is entirely possible.

I don't see how having one particular state to run to is all that helpful. I can easily see how having a strong international refugee system would be a lot more helpful.

Having written all that I find it difficult to see the connection between the Holocaust and Israel's conflict with the Palestinians. Israel is far better armed and organized than the Palestinians. Israel will eventually have to deal with the fact that almost one fifth of it's citizens are arabs. No matter how much the right wing zealots want to define Israel as a purely jewish state it's just not going to be possible. I don't think that either Israel's neighbors nor the infatada [sic] represent a real threat to the survival of the Israeli state. I do think that choosing policies which will result in Israel having to spend another generation oppressing Palesinians is a threat to their society's character.
posted by rdr at 2:33 PM on June 5, 2001

For me, the Israeli/Palestinian struggle is not in itself about anti-Semitism...

And I think that's right: it has as much to do with religion per se as the violence in the north of Ireland. Which is why there's a terrible irony in the truth that Jews are more likely to be targeted for violence within Israel than anywhere else in the world right now. (That's not to say that elsewhere they don't suffer the most ridiculous prejudices that come from base ignorance.)

The Palestinians, on the other hand, have only been displaced for their original homeland for 50 years, and have only been occupied for 34 years.

Um, does the Ottoman Empire count as "occupation"? (And more generally, this little pocket of the eastern Mediterranean has been subject to colonisation, foreign rule, and population upheaval for as long as history records.)
posted by holgate at 2:43 PM on June 5, 2001

Ok, well maybe my phrasing is off. They have only been displaced from their homes for 50 years, and been under an oppressive occupation for 34 years.

The Turkish, British, and other occupations of the land throughout history may not have rubbed the local population the right way, but they never reached a level of violence and oppression that this occupation has.
posted by FPN at 2:55 PM on June 5, 2001

As if its some kind of perverse split-personality disorder at work, Montana is home to one of the best educated populations in America, and yet I can't count on an abacus the number of people I have met here who believe a) the Zionist movement will lead to the ultimate apocalypse b) Jews control all banking and media c) gun control is a strictly Jewish agenda and d) the Turner Diaries are a blueprint of the future. The Palestinians aren't organized enough to perpetrate another Holocaust against Jews. Big deal. As long as the sentiments of hate exist among the well-educated and politically active in this country, then further genocide is indeed possible. It may come in the form of economic sanctions, arms sales, or simply fostering attitudes of intolerance against (whomever) with young people. Skinheads don't grow in a vacuum.
Before anybody jumps my shit, yes I do understand that Israel's land-grab politics have fueled the fire of this current terror war. But when I think of Jewish national consciousness, I have to wonder...Is it really paranoia if they are out to get you?
So, without any real idea of a clear course of action, I have to wonder if America can really throw itself behind helping anybody in the Middle east
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:56 PM on June 5, 2001

Right, Montana. NPR this morning had quite an eye-opening excerpt (3/4 down the page, headline "Anti-Environmental Radio") of radio talk show host/owner John Stokes making fun of Holocaust survivors.
posted by judith at 3:04 PM on June 5, 2001

One point to consider in re the possibility of a second Holocaust is that Israel has nuclear weapons. Little ones, to be sure, but if Hamas does a couple more of these bombing runs, and the Palestinian leadership keeps pretending they don't have any idea what's going, and Sharon falls under more pressure... who's to say? A baby tacnuke in Gaza might get the right people's attention.

As for the guy who left, I don't blame him one bit. I have a family too, and for me they come before country, religion (as if), or anything else. If it was my wife and son I had to worry about getting blown up by scumbag terrorists every day, I would consider it my top responsibility to get them to safety. Anything else would be playing dice with their lives.
posted by UncleFes at 3:10 PM on June 5, 2001

Precisely because of the Israeli land grab, I can't imagine Tachtical Nukes as any kind of option. If what you say is possible, then can you imagine the Holocaust type anti-Jewish sentiment that THAT would foster?
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:14 PM on June 5, 2001

Is it rational to believe that another Holocaust really possible? On the one hand I truly believe that we live in a more enlightened age than that of my ancestors and that Jews are relatively safe from persecution of the level seen during the Holocaust. On the other hand, I'm sure a North American Jew in 1801 probably believed that Jews were relatively safe from persecution of the level seen during the Spanish Inquisition. Yet it happened.

If you asked Germans in 1930 if it would be a good idea to round up and kill Jews, homosexuals and Gypsies, most would have probably been repulsed by the idea. Yet it happened.

Is it really true anymore? I am deeply saddened because I honestly don't think the question has an answer, at least not yet.

Can we believe that the unthinkable will never happen, when it already has?
posted by dchase at 3:38 PM on June 5, 2001

That guy leaving makes me sad. It means that it's another victory for the extremists who, after all, are terrorists. If they succeed in causing someone terror and said person flees, the terrorist will win.

Violence on any side will achieve nothing. I know this from looking at the news from around the world, and I know it from my own country.

As for another Holocaust happening, well, it's happened plenty of times, as has been mentioned already in this thread.

As for another Jewish Holocaust, well, I think that as long as places such as Yad Vashem and all of the death camps are in existence, as long as history and stories are told, I'd hope not. But who knows...we can't predict the future.
posted by tomcosgrave at 3:46 PM on June 5, 2001


Montana is home to one of the best educated populations in America, and yet I can't count on an abacus the number of people I have met here who believe...

Racism(s) is(are) a powerful irrational ideology. It doesn't matter how well or how poorly educated someone is. They can still be racist.

As long as the sentiments of hate exist among the well-educated and politically active in this country, then further genocide is indeed possible. It may come in the form of economic sanctions, arms sales, or simply fostering attitudes of intolerance against (whomever) with young people.

As of 1998 Israel was the largest recipient of bilateral foreign aid from the United States. It's pretty clear to me that the political concensus in this country is pro-Israel. The odd thing is that I'm not sure that a chunk of that support isn't from anti-semitic people. I know that there are people whose support seems to based on their own apocalyptic hopes.
posted by rdr at 4:04 PM on June 5, 2001


If you asked Germans in 1930 if it would be a good idea to round up and kill Jews, homosexuals and Gypsies, most would have probably been repulsed by the idea.

Maybe, but the relevant question is would they do anything to stop it.
posted by rdr at 4:07 PM on June 5, 2001

rdr - Dude - Its Wulfgar!. And I would LIKE believe (with the help of no small amount of scientific study) that education does matter when it regards race hatred. As for America's pro-Israel bent, until now I would agree. But will it continue? nothing we've done (arms sales et al) ensures that that pro-Israel bent will continue if we perceive that Jews have fostered this Zionist agenda. If the fear is that Jews control our national policy, is it not more likely that we will become a reactionist state? I tend to think so.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:17 PM on June 5, 2001

wulfgar - just as a point of information, in addition to being one of the biggest recipients of aid, israel is the only country in the world to have repaid all loans made by the us...
posted by adamholz at 6:11 PM on June 5, 2001

Gee i wonder where he will go? Hmm I wonder.
posted by a3matrix at 7:51 PM on June 5, 2001

We (as in FDR) had knowledge of the Holocaust as early as 1942 yet chose to do nothing to slow the killing so in that sense it's true that the west really didn't care about the Holocaust either

I'm being genuine when I ask: What more could the US have done at that point (1942) to slow the killing?
posted by daveadams at 8:19 PM on June 5, 2001

If you're interested in seeing a timeline detailing american and british responses to the holocaust, then look here. We knew about organized mass killings by 1942 and waited until 1944 to establish the war refugee board. Once we did the WRB saved about 200,000 lives. Presumably if something like the WRB was set up earlier a lot more lives could be saved. We could also have bombed the camps.

There was a war on and it way too easy to look back and second guess other people's actions but if you look at the timeline it appears to me that stopping the holocaust was not a high priority for the allies.
posted by rdr at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2001


You obviously haven't given a thought to the Armenian Genocide in the hands of the Turkish.
posted by Sarine at 1:10 PM on June 6, 2001

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