Thursday, February 13, 2014

The False Constancy of Inherited Guilt - Israel, Germany and Victimhood

“Silence in the face of false propaganda legitimizes actions against Israelis. I will not accept false moralizing against the people of Israel, in Israel’s Knesset. Certainly not in German.”

“His support for Palestinians who incite for the destruction of Israel, from the Knesset podium, 70 years after the Holocaust, is a chutzpah without parallel.” 

The Times of Israel (a web-based English-language Israeli newspaper) included these quotes in its article describing the reaction of right wing members of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) and their subsequent walking out on the President of the European Union, Martin Shulz, during his  address to the Knesset (apparently in his native German).

These words are far more than mere criticism of Mr. Schulz's remarks.  They continue the process of using Jewish victimhood during the Third Reich as a modifier, if not justifier, of Israel's existence today.  This is not right.  Recently many speeches have been made and books written, including Yascha Mounk's current thoughtful and disturbing "Stranger in My Own Country," discussing the German-Jewish issues that continue to besiege this unique relationship - the never-ending accusations of evident "inherited guilt" now beginning to beleaguer a fourth generation of the Germans born after World War II.

Constant accusations of guilt towards grandchildren and great-grandchildren of perpetrators is having more negative than positive effect - as would be expected.  The time of repeated reference to Holocaust and victimhood during political debates should be over.  Right wing (or any other) parties wishing to inveigh against a European or German point of view towards Israel should do so without such allusion.

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