I was on a recent exploratory tour with a few Israeli tour guides through the Czech Republic, learning how to lead "Jewish heritage tours" of Central and Eastern Europe. While in the "Jewish quarter" of Prague, one of the guides suggested that we wear the infamous "yellow hat" that Czech kings made the Jews wear. We all had a good laugh at this, but I realized the point he was trying to make: Jewish citizens of Prague are few and far between, Hitler’s dream of turning the Jewish quarter into a "Jewish museum" has been realized. Indeed, the most prominent landmarks of the Old Town in Prague are steeped in anti-Semitic events that are brushed off as footnotes to the proud history of the Czech people.
Prague is physically centered on the Tyn Church, where a "saint" is buried. The story is that a 1′-year old Jewish boy in the 17th century tried to leave Judaism and was beaten by his father. He did not survive the beating and was quietly buried in the Jewish cemetery.
The authorities arrested the boy’s father and his accomplice, tortured them, and tore the father’s heart out while he was still alive and stuffed it down his throat. After the accomplice witnessed this he converted to Christianity; the Czech authorities had mercy on him and only chopped off his head. The boy’s body was then exhumed and interred in the church, and he became a Czech martyr. There are many, many other examples of similar Czech-Jewish "relations," which usually begin with a blood libel or pogrom.
At the Terezin concentration camp, there is a small memorial to all the Jews who died at the camps in Europe. There are ashes in glass casings from each camp — and a giant statue of Mary, weeping for the victims. At the cemetery at Terezin, the first thing you see is a giant cross topped with a crown of thorns. Only later do you see a much smaller star of David. The message here is clear: Christianity has superseded Judaism, and the Jews have been persecuted for their rejection of Jesus.
Why don’t we confront this anti-Semitism more vigorously? Why is it that Jews from around the world do not stand up to the United Nations and European blatant bias against Israel, which obviously has anti-Semitic undertones? How do we let other nations take control of our synagogues, cemeteries, and European heritage centers and turn them into a discourse against our nation? Why doesn’t the Israeli government combat this anti-Semitism more intelligently and more forcefully?
I’ve come to the conclusion that most Jews suffer from a "Holocaust mentality." We are afraid of what the other nations think of us and we long for their approval after ‘,000 years of suffering at their hands.
Some American Jews with a Holocaust mentality lash out at the biggest Jewish target there is: Israel. I see it a lot when I am guiding Birthright tours or when I am serving in the Israeli army in the west bank. These young Jewish "activists" are champions of the Palestinian cause to a point where they violently confront other Jews trying to protect other Jews. The radicalism of their argument is a basic European-leftist ideology that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. They reject a two-state solution and view Israel as an experiment in colonialism. They reject the Jewish roots in the Land of Israel dating back at least 3,000 years, and are incapable of even contemplating the fact that most Palestinians are recent immigrants to this land themselves.
If they go against the "Palestinian cause" by being pro-Israel, they cease being activists for the left in the eyes of their ultra-liberal friends in university and abroad. They therefore are not accepted by their own intelligentsia and would rather reject their own people, roots, and culture than be perceived as Jewish sympathizers. Of course they are nowhere to be found when Palestinians try to murder civilians; they turn up only when Israel retaliates against these terrorists or tries to build a wall to stop these terrorists.
Our cause is just, our morality is unquestionable to any rational human being, and we have an army to protect ourselves. Yet even Israel suffers from a Holocaust mentality, and I only came to this realization during this second stint at war in Lebanon.
We did not start the Second Lebanon War or this ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, yet missiles were falling (and continue to fall in Sderot) on Israel daily for over a month. Our border was crossed; soldiers were killed and others kidnapped. When we responded to this act of war against military targets, missiles intentionally rained down on our cities. No one disputes the fact that the missile fire came from civilian areas and that the terrorists used (and continue to use) their own civilians as shields. But as Israeli civilians were being murdered, Israel carried on the war against bridges, buildings, and roads, carefully avoiding hitting the very areas where the terrorists were hiding in order to spare the lives of the civilians among them.
We tried to shoot around the civilians, and we were somewhat successful at this until the inevitable happened and many civilians were killed at Kana in a retaliatory attack aimed at the terrorists. So what did we do? We stopped. We sacrificed the lives of our own children so Shi’ite children could live. We tiptoed around Lebanon like we were on egg shells as our own civilians absorbed the brunt of the attack — and what did we do? We did nothing.
Any other government, after having suffered a barrage of thousands of missile aimed at their families. would have launched an all-out defensive war, but because our government cares about what the other nations think of us, we held back our forces. Each and every one of us who went into Lebanon was expecting to fight for our right to live as Jews in a Jewish nation, but instead we sat on our backsides.
Now Hezbollah is being rearmed by Iran through Syria, under the watchful eyes of the Lebanese army and the French-led U.N. forces. France seems to be content about the fact that the terrorists are wearing civilian clothes and not waving their flags. Now Iran is building up its nuclear capabilities and everyone knows it. Just last week, the Iranian president, for the umpteenth time, announced his intention to "wipe out" Israel at a conference aimed at studying the "validity of the Holocaust." And what are Israel and the Jewish people doing about it? Absolutely nothing.
I hope that our collective Holocaust mentality will disappear before these barbarians get weapons of mass destruction, because if we don’t take their own words seriously, just as we did not take Hitler’s words seriously, we are headed toward another Holocaust.Joseph Yudin is general manager and tour guide for www.TouringIsrael.com. His parents, Bob and Susan Yudin, live in Wyckoff.