I grew up in Highland Park and Glencoe, Illinois, in the 50s and 60s.  These are largely Jewish, mostly upper-middle-class, suburbs.  Though there hadn’t been a Bar Mitzvah in either side of my family in several generations, we still retained a Jewish identity even if it revolved around the food we ate and a certainty that our particular group was more resilient and suffered more than any other group.  Sufferings of other minorities didn’t count.  My family was not exactly liberal.

The emergence of the state of Israel, a compelling story that held us spellbound, never revealed that the people living in Palestine were being ethnically cleansed, killed and sent away.  Jews were returning home.  I was told the Palestinians did not really live there but had moved there from other parts of the Middle East.  I was also told very few people lived there before the Jews arrived.  My relatives never discussed a post-World War II U.S. policy that refused to allow working-class Jews from Europe to immigrate to the U.S.  I don’t imagine they were aware of the Western nations’ strategy that sought a long-term, secure presence near essential Middle Eastern resources.  Such connections are not spelled out on TV.

Perhaps what most informed my solidarity with the people of Israel was how deeply the music from the movie Exodus stirred me.  Paul Newman on the boat, leading his people home.  The struggle for freedom after surviving terror.  It felt personal.

Two things most informed my political awareness when growing up.  First, the bomb.  Connecting my personal terror of dying with imminent world destruction linked my personal psyche with the global zeitgeist.  What happens in the world has always felt personal to me.  Second, the return of Jews to Israel felt like a personal return.  Israel was home.  Though as a child I never had a desire to visit Israel, its just being there seemed a good thing.  Hearing music from that sound track reminded me that the world could be a just place.  There were good things that were more powerful than terror.

Growing up, I retained a world view peculiar to my economic status and ethnic background.  Two seemingly unrelated political arenas, Israel and the bomb, did not feel obviously connected.  The two seemingly different issues have now merged.

The world’s last remaining nuclear-nuanced brink polarity is between the U.S. and disenfranchised, radicalized Middle Easterners.  Western interests continue to occupy Middle Eastern lands.  The Jewish culture, once obsessed with the nature of justice, behaves with a compulsion to commit injustice, as if it had lost the memory of abuse.

While a humbled Germany has embraced its shame, providing a future vision most nations still do not grasp, the Jewish nation refuses to grieve, transforming itself into an unrepentant Reich.

The path to world peace leads to this tortured human heart hell-bent on creating the pain it refuses to feel.


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