Intellectual miscalculation

Time and again we grumble at speakers who find signs of Israel deteriorating in Holocaust Day speeches. Why is this happening? Commentary

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Shlomo Piotrokovsky,

Supreme Court headed by Miriam Naor
Supreme Court headed by Miriam Naor
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Last year it was Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Golan, this year it was Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, and next year it will probably be someone else.

Every year we stand in shock before a new senior official who, during a speech marking Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day, finds "disturbing signs" in the State of Israel that year, with a clear, if not explicit, hint at the Holocaust.

Why does this happen? Where do all these senior officials find the same thesis again and again, and what is the logic behind it? To understand this we must return to the first third of the Twentieth Century.

Many of the prominent Jewish intellectuals who acted in the first third of the Twentieth Century did so in Germany and from within German culture, and were an integral part of it. This group had to provide itself an acceptable explanation to the question of how within a few years their colleagues and the people they valued had become part of the Nazi atrocity, whoever more or whoever less. This question is not trivial, it represents a real identity crisis.

The solution designed by some in this group of intellectuals is to determine that every nation, at any given time, may deteriorate within a few years to where Germany arrived during the Third Reich. There is no difference in this respect between nation and nation, between eras, etc. This being the case, a reasonable person with a reasonable survival instinct will constantly check his surroundings for signs that such a process has begun, so that at least it can be stopped before it turns into gas chambers, crematoria, and all that they entail.

All this makes sense, of course, if one assumes that the answer given by Jewish intellectuals is correct. It is difficult to refute this answer, but one may doubt its validity and note that "signs" of the kind the group is trying to locate appear in many societies, only one of which ultimately produced the Nazi horror, so that perhaps the time has come to look for another answer to the question. And to slightly lower the level of hysteria.