Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Diminishing Presence

We are all human beings; we share the same emotions, have similar basic needs, live our lives as best we can, have a deep and abiding love for our families, share pride in the accomplishments of our children, derive a deep satisfaction and affection for our source groups, their traditions, history, emphasis on social- and self-responsibility.

We are Jews. And while we have much in common with people whose ethnic derivations are other than our own, a common ancestry holds us slightly apart; we are recognized as being 'different'. That 'difference' has always been the impetus for a historical and histrionic targeting of the Jewish presence among those of other ethnic, social and traditional groups.

Jews were held to be inferior in their antecedents, were seen to harbour ambitions of vaulting themselves over the aspirations of all other peoples; seen to plot their ascendancy over all others, by seeking to control the means with which this ambition could be contrived. Moreover, Jews held themselves traditionally separate and apart, practising their religious conservatism, holding themselves to be superior, it was reasoned.

History's perennial scapegoat for whatever could go wrong in the world - at the street level where disgruntled and hard-done-by citizens looked with envy at the purportedly hidden resources of their humble neighbour, and whom their religious leaders assured them was the fount of all their woes, became a ready target in a wider sense when singling out the Jews in their midst enabled political charlatans to charge their presence was a detriment to the country as a whole.

The Twentieth Century was no kinder to world Jewry than the previous annals of history. It succeeded in compounding the alarm Jews normally felt when seeing themselves targeted, then solidifying that alarm into a mass carnage of humankind worst excesses delivered with a cold intent of annihilation on a scale previously undreamed of. But there is that about the Jews; they are a stubborn people.

By nature resilient, indomitable, determined, and through their religion convinced that the God whom Abraham served would never desert His people at their time of need. But no miraculous Golem appeared to rescue them, no Archangel flew down from above to render Israel's enemies speechless and frozen in intent; no cataclysmic upheaval was ordered by Jehovah to unsettle the conviction of much of Europe that fascist extermination was the order of the day.

Mankind faced its excess of debased human derangement by denying that they knew what was occurring, that it was the temporary madness of a militaristic society that was at fault, and there quite simply existed no opportunities to rescue the millions of human beings being sacrificed to the insane whim of a relative handful of fascists determined to produce a new world order.

The long-term consequences of the Holocaust haven't been much examined. Human beings, as part of their emotional baggage that permits them to surmount the most horrendous of circumstances, are by their nature hopeful. Hope leads to hanging on by the slimmest of existential threads - to eventual survival. We've been imprinted to survive, to pass on our genes, our attributes as well as our failures of vision.

Jews have attained to a sanctuary of their very own, one whose purpose is to succour and support, to encourage the finest in human aspirations and to reach the pinnacle of human endeavours leading to success in science, medicine, the arts, philosophy. Yes, there is the dross of the pedestrian, far outstripping the extraordinary, but somehow genius manages to raise its creative head for the betterment of mankind, and among Jews, it does so far more often than from among other human groupings.

It is estimated that Jews number approximately thirteen million throughout the world; a steady number neither increasing nor decreasing. As such, Jews represent about two of every thousand people in the world. But the world population has itself been increasing, at a rate far outstripping that of its Jewish component. To gain some perspective, Jews represented 3.5 of every thousand in 1970, 4.7 of one thousand population in 1945 - and 7.5 out of one thousand in 1938.

The six million Jews who were slaughtered by Nazi Germany and her helpers, aided and abetted by the indifference of the world at large, had an overall effect on the population of Jews world wide. Their numbers were diminished by almost half. Roughly analogous to the population of the State of Israel today, but not quite; while six million were exterminated during the Holocaust, the Jewish population of Israel stands at 5.4, outstripping in numbers the United States with its 5.3 million Jews.

What the evil intent of Nazi Germany and her allies failed to accomplish, according to the Jewish Agency's Conference on the Future of the Jewish People, intermarriage and a diminution of Jewish identity, along with a paucity of Jewish education is managing to bring to reality. And the further reality is that this diminishment of Jews and the Jewish identity harms not only this particular group, but also the world at large.

The fount of much which the world holds dear had its birth among that group historically, in religion, philosophy, science, medicine and the arts right through to modern history.



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