If I were a Jew today, my sensibilities would be tormented. I would find it increasingly difficult to reconcile the long cycles of oppression that Jewish people have endured and the insatiable appetite for vengeful violence that
Suffering and oppression typically give rise to sympathy and compassion among the oppressed. I can look upon the sufferer and know that, “there but for the Grace of God, go I.” During this period I might well reflect on the redemptive qualities of suffering that my people have learned through a ghastly set of lessons. I would not have to reflect alone, I could read the lessons explicitly from Elie Wiesel, Anne Frank, or Chaim Potok. I would conclude that my Jewish faith and the history of my people render me closer to human compassion; closer to the instinct to offer healing to hurt, patience to anxiety and understanding to confusion.
I don’t know how I would reconcile that identity with the behavior of fundamentalist Jewish extremists or of
I would be confused in concept too. My faith would lead me to believe that
My reflections on Kristallnacht would lead me to feel that these are precisely the human sentiments that I as Jew would understand; that I ought to understand and feel compelled to help alleviate. It cannot be that the sum total of a history of suffering and slaughter places such a premium on my identity that I would be willing to damn others in defense of it.
If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself. Self defense is undoubtedly an instinct, but I would be afraid of my increasing insensitivity to the suffering others. My greatest torment would be that I’ve misinterpreted the identity offered by my history and transposed spiritual and human compassion with self righteous impunity.