From Burg’s perspective, Hitler has won, in the sense that the Jewish people as embodied in the state of Israel are forever bound to the holocaust as their reason for existing.  If the people of Israel cannot grow beyond the cult of the shoah, recognizing it for its prominent role in modern history but not caught up in its perpetual victim hood, militarism,  oppression, and denial of other’s human rights, they will forever be mired in the holocaust.

Palestine

From that rises the Palestinian problem, with Burg providing the ironic twist that “the Wandering Jews, a people of refugees, are the cause of the Palestinian refugee problem.”  From their he sees Israeli cynicism and double standards as “The world took responsibility for the Shoah, and it did so very seriously indeed….In contrast, we have never done anything similar for the Palestinian refugees and their descendants.  We did not fulfill what we demanded of others.”

In an arguable statement, he says, “The oppressed always look up and aspire to resemble their oppressors.”  In metaphorical terms, “It is like the battered child that becomes an abusive parent and thus preserves the pathology of his life.  In the same way,  humiliated and persecuted people can become similar to the worst of its tormentors.  Past oppression does not provide a clean bill of morality to the newly freed people.”  There are two levels to this argument, one being the nature of Israeli society, the other being the nature of Palestinian society.  As an oppressed, humiliated, and persecuted people, the Palestinians have resorted to violence on several levels, from inter-faction feuding between Hamas and Fatah, the PLO/Fatah oppression against its own people in the West Bank, and the militant response of insurrection and violence towards the occupiers, Israel.

Answers

As I indicated earlier there are no real practical answers to the physical problems of Palestine/Israel presented in either of these works, but Burg’s thesis does arrive at a much more positive philosophical viewpoint.  As I understand its essence, it is because the Jews have survived the shoah and a long history of persecution, that needs to be turned outward, away from the militarism, away from the race hatred and self victimizing that currently dominates Israeli politics.  Instead, the Jewish people need to become witnesses that this shall not happen again, not just in reference to the Jewish, but not to any other people on this world, that the shoah was not just a crime against Jews, but also a crime against humanity, a crime that the Jewish people need to lead the world away from, and not continually thrust it into everyone else’s face as the sole owners of racist victim hood.

Burg looks for a renaissance, a rebirth.  “The most important Jewish legacy is to assume responsibility for repair, redemption, restoration, and reconstruction of the ruins.”  Not just the ruin of the Jewish people, but the ruin of all populations that are oppressed and denied.

While not practical in a physical sense, if deed follows word then there is certainly much room for optimism and positive growth from Burg’s arguments.  From this idealism of a peaceful and positive Judaism, escaping the long talons of the shoah, a new Judaism could rise, and with that, a positive and forward looking solution to current Palestinian/Israeli problems.

On the other side of the coin, if Gordis’ arguments are sustained, then Israel will become even more combative and militaristic without apologies or concern for others.  This internal debate in Israel may continue for a long time, much like the peace negotiations that are never ending.  In that event, the status quo will remain, with much rhetoric and propaganda, with continuing settlement of Palestinian territory, with ongoing hostility towards the Palestinian people.

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[1] Gordis, Daniel.  Saving Israel – How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End.  John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2009.

[2]Burg, Avraham.  The Holocaust Is Over We Must Rise From Its Ashes.  Palgrave, MacMillan, New York, 2008.

[3] see the partial bibliography at the end of the review on Benny Morris’ One State, Two States available at http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=15340