The sin of self-defamation

When you see a thief you fall in with him,
and throw in your lot with adulterers;
you devote your mouth to evil,
and yoke your tongue to deceit;
you are busy maligning your brother,
defaming the son of your mother.
– Psalm 50

I’m writing this the day before Yom Kippur, so I’m thinking about my mistakes, some of which are even sins. But my thoughts keep wandering. Is it worse to commit many sins and repent for them, or to sin less but insist that you don’t sin at all? What about committing few sins but admitting to ones that you didn’t commit?

That sounds insane, but characterizes the Jewish people, or at least elements therein. Since the Zionist enterprise created – at massive cost and against great odds – what in many ways may be the best modern state on the planet earth, Jews have been repenting for their success.

How is it possible, says the little devil that sits on the shoulder of writers like Ari Shavit or Peter Beinart and whispers in their ears, that Jews should have all this, Jews that were despised in the civilized world for at least 2000 years and whom many important people today still despise?

They don’t deserve it, says the devil. They must have stolen it. They must have committed massacres and ethnically cleansed the indigenous people from their land. Because, as Mahmoud Abbas, a proud ‘Palestinian’, says, Jews have filthy feet that defile the land. You never hear Mahmoud Abbas admitting his sins, or indeed the sins of any ‘Palestinian’, unless of course it is an Arab that has challenged his authority as the dictator of the Palestinian kleptocracy.

They can’t prove that the massacres and ethnic cleansing happened, but they know in their hearts that it had to happen, because otherwise the Jews would still be living the kind of life they truly deserve, paying jizya to Muslim rulers or eating dirt in the ghettos of Europe in between Easter-time pogroms like my grandparents did.

We fought wars and like all wars not every bullet fired was perfectly just. We made mistakes. But we weren’t Nazis, we weren’t Arabs and we weren’t even Americans or British. We fought in self-defense and we did what was necessary to survive.

Amira Hass, a Jewish woman and writer for the Ha’aretz newspaper, famously said that “throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule.” Hass doesn’t agree with me that the Jewish people has a birthright, the same as any indigenous people, and that it is the land of Israel, and that even the Jew-despising nations recognized this in international law, and that there is no ‘foreign’ rule here. But getting stoned to death is a long tradition among Jews (it’s even mentioned in the Yom Kippur liturgy), and for Amira Hass it’s what we deserve. The Jewish people cheated their ordained fate, and it’s the Arabs’ duty to punish them.

Even the President of the State of Israel doesn’t feel comfortable with his ‘Jewish privilege.’ The morning after an ugly crime in which three Arabs were burned to death, when the police investigation had barely begun, he announced that “Jewish terrorists” were responsible for the crime. Now it’s almost two months later and the Jewish terrorists are still not in hand, despite assurances from various government officials that they know who did it, “in principle,” (the words of Moshe Ya’alon) anyway. But it had to be Jews, because we know that Jews, especially right-wing extremists, are guilty of everything. To be a Jew is to be guilty.

So why are we surprised when the non-Jewish world expects us to sit down with representatives of the PLO, still a criminal terrorist gang, and offer up our land in return for promises (which nobody in their right mind expects that they will keep)? When the Arabs said that we massacred them, ethnically cleansed them, burned them, stole their land, were descended from Khazars, and never even had a Temple on the Mount where we put our “filthy feet,” did we object? Only a little. Mostly we said that we suffered a lot in the Holocaust, both sides have made mistakes, and our security is important to us.

What we did not say was that we are the indigenous people of the land of Israel, we have a biblical, historical moral, and legal right to the land – recognized in the Mandate – and it isn’t a sin to defend ourselves, our history and our rights.

It isn’t a moral policy – or a particularly effective one – to try to ingratiate ourselves with those who hate us by accepting guilt for crimes that we didn’t commit. Self-flagellation engenders contempt, not respect. And it isn’t moral or effective to be silent and fail to demand the justice that we truly deserve.

Something to think about on Yom Kippur. May we all be blessed with a peaceful year.

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2 Responses to The sin of self-defamation

  1. Dafna Yee says:

    What would help even more would be to stop this insane movement of making “peace overtures” with people who are doing everything they possibly can to destroy you that has gripped so many people (and governments) in the world today. This is particularly true of Netanyahu, who despite everything is still trying to make “peace” with Abbas the terrorist and Obama the traitor!!!!

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    I am writing this after Yom Kippur but I could not agree more. Jewish masochism, self-criticism, unfair defamation of ourselves is one of our greatest sins.
    It did not begin with Beinart or Chomsky or in another way Otto Weininger or Karl Marx. But it is part of us perhaps from our very beginning as Biblical people.
    I would also point out that being self- critical ( not in the evil way you mention in your article) also has helped make us the special people we are.

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