By Amit Epstein | 01/07/2010
The latest piece of news of last week was about a group of German-Jews which is about to send an aid ship to Gaza, breaking the iniquitous blockade – so they say –voicing out another Jewish tone. Jews for peace – wow – outrageous, who ever heard about something like that..?.
It never ceases to amaze me how eager some Jews are, as soon as it comes to excluding themselves from "the Jewish front" (even assuming there is one is already despicable) with allegedly voicing out a "sane" alternative. This "other" voice phenomenon is spread around in the world as Jews are, but still in Germany the German-Jews make an exceptional cluster, as always.
The ambivalence of European and American Jews towards Israel is obvious and understandable; they are frequently asked to respond and relate to IT, even if actually they have really nothing to do with IT. Sometimes they do not wish to have anything with IT, sometimes they do – but it's not important. IT will always pop up in the most inconvenient moment and IT can get very hot.
The fact is that just as Jews in general tend to see the gentiles as a "THEY" who will never accept "US", the gentiles seem to include all Jews in one bundle, like it or not – and we do not like it. Not at all.
If you would have told my grandmother 60 years ago that she will spend most of her life surrounded by Polish merchants (Jews) Ukrainian farmers (Jews…) and North-African traders (Jews!) she would have spat at you, as much as that kind of an inelegant gesture would have broken her heart.
Over half a century later, the experiences in Israel have taught even her that she's not better; Eastern-European-Jews have just as much right to survive and North-African Jews can be just as elegant.
Still, the mechanism of "WE" and "THEM" exists within the Jewish society as strong as ever – "THEY" hate "US" because of "THEM"…if "THEY" would have known "US" (separated from "THEM", or "IT") "THEY" would love "US". "WE" are just like "THEY" are, not like "THEM". Complicated? Not if you're a German-Jew, then it's built-in.
It's difficult not to belong; and we all long to belong. Longing, though, is a state of being, not a land – if it was a state, it would have been without a doubt populated with German-Jews.
German-Jews are German, there is no doubt about it, whoever has a problem with that lives in the darkest corner of the past. German-Jews do not have to feel obligated to defend Israel, to accept it as it is or to avoid criticizing it (I mean, really, wasn't the state of Israel created as an Idea on European grounds against the opinion of the German-Jews majority..?). What I find peculiar is that German-Jews find the need to form a German-Jewish group to go to Gaza, instead of joining one of tens or even hundreds left and right wing groups, as ready as they are, as willing, as blind-sighted. What will still differentiate them is the motivation – as Jewish children are being beaten on the streets by Muslim Turks, as Jewish grave-yards being smashed and trashed by right-wing activists leaving massages like "we won't let you live in peace as long as you won't let the Palestinians live in peace" and synagogues in Germany must stay under police guard or else they will be damaged, some German-Jews thing that their motivation should be to separate themselves from Israel's politics, but they are wasting their time – we are, to some extant, all on the same ship, sort of saying…
A famous anecdote tells that as Bubbis, a former head of the German-Jewish community, met the German Chancellor at that time after the Israeli Prime Minister visited Germany. The Chancellor asked Bubbis what did he thought of what his Prime Minister said.
Bubbis, goes the tale, answered "…and I thought you were my Prime Minister…"