I wish others, including Bernie Sanders, were as clear-sighted as Bill Clinton in their view of the Middle East. Yes, Sanders believes that Israel should exist, as if that were up for debate and required his approval. This is what some have never understood: Israel’s existence cannot be a subject of negotiation. After the Holocaust, Jewish existence cannot be anything less than a fact, and those who do not recognize this are not friends, whether they have a hidden agenda or not.
There has been no greater abusive experience in world history than the Holocaust. Like other kinds if abusive behavior, the effects the the Holocaust are persistent, even permanent. This is true for the Jewish People as well as for Jewish people. Like other survivors of abuse, survivors of the Holocaust, which is every Jew with a memory and historical awareness, may strive all their lives to compensate for the impact of abuse. Many will be successful, to a greater or lesser degree, but compensation does not erase the experience; this is the nature of consciousness and memory.
Some say the Jews should just get over it. Some fault the Jews, including Israelis, for not moving on. Should the victims of domestic abuse just get over it? Should African Americans just get over it? Survivors have a moral and personal responsibility to make their lives as coherent, productive and healthy as they can, but they have no responsibility to forget. Others would argue that forgetting, ignoring or repressing past abuse is the wrong thing to do by 180 degrees.
The Jewish People lost almost half its population to the unspeakable barbarities of the Holocaust. This took place with the connivance, approval, neglect, inaction and indifference of the world. Why is anyone surprised that Israel insists that its existence and security are not bargaining chips in a grand geopolitical dance? And why would anyone think that some form of “neutrality” could possibly be the position of a friend and ally? Let’s not blame the victims for having a history of abuse. —Rabbi Kerry Baker