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Monday, November 17, 2008

Avram Burg's warped sense of holiness

In Sunday's Los Angeles Times, former speaker of the Knesset Avram Burg complains about the Holocaust's 'unholy hold' on Israel (Hat Tip: Hot Air).
The constant presence of the Shoah is like a buzz in my ear. In Israel, children are always, it seems, preparing for their rite-of-passage "Auschwitz trip" to Poland. Not a day passes without a mention of the Holocaust in the only newspaper I read, Haaretz. The Shoah is like a hole in the ozone layer: unseen yet present, abstract yet powerful. It's more present in our lives than God.

It is the founding experience not just of our national consciousness but of more than that. Army generals discuss Israeli security doctrine as "Shoah-proof." Politicians use it as a central argument for their ethical manipulations.

The Shoah is so pervasive that a study conducted a few years ago in a Tel Aviv school for teachers found that more than 90% of those questioned view it as the most important experience of Jewish history. That means it is more important than the creation of the world, the exodus from Egypt, the delivering of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, the ruin of both Holy Temples, the exile, the birth of Zionism, the founding of the state or the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Shoah is woven, to varying degrees, into almost all of Israel's political arguments; over time, we have taken the Shoah from its position of sanctity and turned it into an instrument of common and even trite politics. It represents a past that is present, maintained, monitored, heard and represented. Our dead do not rest in peace. They are busy, active, always a part of our sad lives.

Of course, memory is essential to any nation's mental health. The Shoah must always have an important place in the nation's memorial mosaic. But the way things are done today -- the absolute monopoly and the dominance of the Shoah on every aspect of our lives -- transforms this holy memory into a ridiculous sacrilege and converts piercing pain into hollowness and kitsch. As time passes, the deeper we are stuck in our Auschwitz past, the more difficult it becomes to be free of it.
Burg is essentially arguing that were it not for our obsession with the Holocaust, we would find the ability to commit national suicide by giving our land away to the 'Palestinians.' After all, if we were not so obsessed with those who murdered us in the past, we might not believe the intentions of those who would murder us in the future, right?

But those who forget their history are destined to suffer from the same mistakes all over again. Those who have no past have no future. Instead, they end up as vapid former politicians - like Avram Burg.

His father must be rolling over in his grave.


At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To a certain extent, I agree with Burg's analysis. Secular Israelis (like Burg) indeed have little more to hold on to than the past 60 years or so of history.

What are they going to do? Go way back 3500 years to Sinai, like you and me, Carl? They're even somewhat afraid to mention Herzl, let alone Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'akov - and "heaven forbid" - The Ribbono Shel Olam.

As the old song goes: "Eretz Yisrael, bli Torah, he k'mo Yehudi bli neshama" ("The Land of Israel, without the Torah, is like a Jew without a soul").

At 5:23 PM, Blogger A Soldier's Mother said...

I can barely stand to hear his name, never mind listen to a word he says. It disgusts me that he dares to ware a yarmulka on his head and pretend an affinity to Israel. He is an embarrassment to his father and to all of Israel and no one should be listening to the ramblings of such a self-hating Jew.

He understands nothing of what Israel is, why and how it was founded.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

The man is a total obama-nation. ;)

But seriously, once Burg compared Zionism to Nazism, he should have lost any and all legitimacy and all. The fact that people still care about what he has to say...it is very sad.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I don't care what he said. The past is prologue to the future. Kristallnacht happened only 70 years ago. And we're supposed to forget it because it would stop Jews from looking to the future? Without the past and I don't mean the Shoah, without the Torah and Jewish history, the Jew doesn't exist. Without something to hold onto, there is no Israel - either in the sense of the Jewish people as a whole or in the State Of Israel at the present time. Avram Burg wants to erase it all. The logic of post-Zionism takes one in one direction. He is best forgotten.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Batya said...

He has already declared in public, I heard him on TV, that he doesn't believe in G-d.


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