How does one give therapy to a whole nation? This is the question I asked myself after seeing this photo montage made by the pro-Israel group Stand With Us, celebrating that Israel is now the largest center of Jews in the world. (UPDATE: Stand With Us took the picture off their Facebook wall)
That’s the only way I can explain a photo like this. The Jewish nation goes through one of the most traumatic events in history, and the result is some sort of disorder, a PTSD on national levels. How does one treat that?
How does one convince a people that yes, what you’ve been through was horrific on levels so hard to grasp – but you can not be a victim forever? I’m saddened to think about the prospects for reconciliation with our neighbors, if this level of victimhood is what dictates our thoughts every second. When something like this is ingrained so deeply in the national psyche, what are the hopes in the near future for freeing ourselves from it?
It’s always the little things, like a stupid photo montage, that really bring it home to me, that really fill me with despair.
Yet, besides saddening me this photo also angers me. It angers me how someone can cynically use a picture of concentration camp inmates for their own purposes. Especially when it turned out that Israel was probably the worst place a Holocaust survivor could have chosen to live in. Of all places, Israel let the survivors in its midst die in utter poverty. Israel never forgot the Holocaust, but certainly forgot its survivors.
New Labor MK Merav Michaeli wrote in an op-ed in Haaretz over a year ago on how the Holocaust is remembered in Israel. She wrote it after a poll was published that said 98 percent of Israelis consider it “either fairly important or very important to remember the Holocaust, attributing to it even more weight than to living in Israel, the Sabbath, the Passover seder and the feeling of belonging to the Jewish people.” Here is an excerpt:
The Holocaust is the primary way Israel defines itself. And that definition is narrow and ailing in the extreme, because the Holocaust is remembered only in a very specific way, as are its lessons. It has long been used to justify the existence and the necessity of the state, and has been mentioned in the same breath as proof that the state is under a never-ending existential threat.
The Holocaust is the sole prism through which our leadership, followed by society at large, examines every situation. This prism distorts reality and leads inexorably to a forgone conclusion – to the point that former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau announced at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony three years ago that Moses was the first Holocaust survivor. In other words, all our lives are simply one long Shoah.
We are no longer victims. The most powerful military in the region can no longer say that. It’s time to move on.