Op-Ed: Israel's Ghetto Mentality
Claude Lanzmann is a great filmaker. His new movie, “The Last of the Unjust”, tells the incredible story of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last head of the Jewish ghetto di Theresianstadt, the only one who survived the war.
The movie tells the story of this brave Jew who had to work with Adolf Eichmann (“Murmelschwein” the collaborationist, as he was defamed after war).
“Are you happy in Rome?”, asks Lanzmann. “As a Jew in exile”, replied Murmelstein. You cannot but feel compassion for what this Jew had to endure.
But while Murmelstein speaks, my thoughts go to the current Israeli leadership of Israel. Murmelstein and the Members of Knesset of the State of Israel, its strategists and public officials have the same type of thinking, a way of thinking which I will try to summarize here:
Survival is our only concern. Survival of all Jews, to be sure, but above all, the survival of the greatest number.
We must not allow terror to cloud our minds and divert us from our goal. We must think logically.
The uprooting of Jews dispersed throughout the world causes a great deal of suffering. Yet we must not be oblivious to the advantages of concentrating all our people in our own area. Dispersed in small settlements, they are exposed to hatred and ever-growing dangers. Their very presence is a source of constant friction. There will be safety in numbers.
The threats of total annihilation are empty rhetoric for popular consumption. The enemy is willing to sit down with us and make plans clearly proves that he has long-range interests. If we act wisely, peace will come. Painful compromise is the price of survival.
It is this ghetto-like thinking that leads Israel’s government ministers to seriously advocate uprooting Jewish towns and villages in the Jews’ ancestral homeland; that they speak of exiling thousands of Jews in order to curry favor with Arab potentates and US coteries; that they make pacts with unrepentant terrorists whose anti-Semitism matches anything in the pages of Der Stürmer; that they allow for Jewish blood being shed in all parts of the country; that they tell their citizens to surrender more to the Palestinian Arabs so that they will control terrorism; that they ask the Jews to be prepared to suffer the loss of precious lives, for peace too extracts a bloody price.
It is in this ghetto-like thinking that you see Jewish policemen beating peaceful protesters; that government ministers hold talks with Mahmoud Abbas’ henchmen at the very hour when Jewish victims are being buried rather than join the thousands of mourners; that the wholesale release of Arab murderers is defended by Israel’s justice minister as perfectly legal and that, Kristallnacht-fashion, Palestinians loot a synagogue built over the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem.
In 1942, the Nazis gathered in a villa outside Berlin to adopt “the Final Solution of the Jewish People”. Then anti-Semites wanted to make the world Jüdenrein, free of Jews. First came the “resettlement” from outlying communities to the large ghettos and then the “final solution”.
In 2014, anti-Semites want to make the world “Jüdenstaatrein”, free of a Jewish State. As a first step, they will insist on the “resettlement” from outposts and then the “final agreement”.
The result will be a squeezed, narrow and urban Jewish ghetto with Muslim newcomers pressing from the eastern highlands, those which have been abandoned by the Jewish army.