Beautiful Striped Pajamas

Beautiful Striped Pajamas

To follow up on my Never Again? Shut Up! blog I decided to review  kindred movies that deal with the Holocaust in parallel ways, each of which is stunningly effective. Before doing so, let me preface the reviews with a few comments about the pending visit of Benjamin Netanyahu – or Bibi as he is commonly known.

This recent Politico Article illustrates the fallout caused by Congress’ invitation for Bibi to speak to it.  The article quotes Martin Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel under Bill Clinton saying “nobody wants to be put in the position of taking sides… Democrats who are supporters of Israel don’t want to have to choose between supporting Israel and supporting their president.”

DiscordNancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives echoed this sentiment when she, according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill “expressed her concern that casting a political apple of discord into the relationship is not the best way forward given the formidable challenges our two countries are facing together”.  It appears she blames Bibi.  I’ll keep my opinion to myself on this, and invite you to reflect on where the “political apple of discord” originated.

Was it the invitation by John Boehner, Speaker of the US House of Representatives? Bibi’s acceptance? President Obama’s reaction? The responses by Representatives in Ms. Pelosi’s Party? Or do the causes lie with others, inside or outside the US?

But getting back to the topic of remembering the Holocaust, the origin and continued existence of the embattled “Jewish State” is directly tied to the unbelievable suffering of Jews throughout history, culminating in the Holocaust.  Denial of the Holocaust and the refusal to accept the legitimacy of Israel, and its right to defend itself, go hand-in-glove.  On the world scene many people and nations today have turned Anti-Zionism into a gross caricature of the Antisemitism that empowered the annihilation of over six million Jews.

Antisemetic caricature

It took the tiny nation 50 years to achieve a population as large as that, and since then the forces that sought to destroy it before it got established, and which have conspired against it ever since, have continued to grow in strength and influence.  The global narrative against Israel is eerily similar to that which existed in Weimar Germany, throughout sections of Europe, and pockets outside of it, in the build-up to the Holocaust.

In the US we’ve generally been supportive of Israel, but as our current president seeks to normalize relations with traditional enemies, including Iran, many believe that he has betrayed Israel, a nation we have traditionally supported. Clearly, the world is, in fact, being forced to choose.  And while it is not Israel doing the forcing, it seems to be the very presence of the Jews who, like Dickens’ Ghosts of Christmas, haunt anti-semites, past, present and future. Speaking of Christmas, a wave of religious persecution unheard of in centuries is sweeping the world, as indicated by “Christmas Slaughter”, a Gatestone Article highlighting that, in the Muslim world “Christmas celebrations were, as usual, tense and sometimes bloody”.

The first of the two movies I’d like to discuss is “Life is Beautiful”, by director Roberto Benigni, which won three Oscars in 1997. This implausible romantic comedy morphs into a story about a father trying to help his son survive a Nazi Concentration camp.  roberto benigni nicoletta braschi life is beautifulIt celebrates the power of the Human Spirit, giving visual voice to the sentiments Viktor Frankl expressed in “Man’s Search For Meaning”.  Frankl eloquently and convincingly argued that those who were able to find meaning in their suffering were more likely to survive. Against all odds, both Frankl and Benigni pull off a miracle.  Helping us understand this aspect of the Holocaust and believe that in some finite way, individuals were able to exercise a fragment of control, even in the most horrific and hopeless situations, which at times made the difference between life and death. This is one aspect of the Holocaust that needs to be remembered – the power of the Faith of those Jews, and others, who, against all odds, survived. This is the rare movie I have watched more than once, and though I last saw it over decade ago, it sticks with you, in a very positive way.

The movie, however, that inspired this blog was one I watched last night;  “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” directed by Mark Herman.  This lesser known and less decorated movie is etched more clearly into my psyche than the lighter, and more inspiring movie I referenced above.  boy in the striped pajamasIt is Chilling.  Haunting.  And memorable for similar, but distinctly different reasons. Both movies illustrate how the innocence and imagination of a young boy, faced with the horror of genocidal ethnic hatred, has the ability to overcome what otherwise would be the extinction of the soul. Both movies illustrate how a belief in one’s father, supported by the love of one’s mother, gives the needed left and right wings for the spirit of the child to soar above the downward spiral of an evil so grim it presents the gassing and burning of people, based on their religious and cultural ethnicity, as a solution.

The difference between the two is the nature of the father.

I won’t spoil either movie, but strongly recommend you watch them both, with this in mind.  What I will say before pulling a random Virtue Card to guide us to conclusion, is that the Title of my trilogy and this Blog “The People of the Sign” really centers around that question.  What is the Nature of our Father – capital F – our Divine Creator? And how do we identify with Him? My book posits that, for the Jews it was the Sign of the Sabbath Day, which gave them an identity the Nazis could hang a yellow star upon, branding them for slaughter.

The card I pulled was Cooperation. I resisted my initial desire to draw again, which would be contrary to numerous virtues, and instead decided to cooperate with it. Here’s a selection of what’s on the card:

“Cooperation is working together for the good of all. It is the willingness to stand, side by side and use the different gifts each of us has to offer. We seek common goals in service of a unified vision.” The card features a great quote by Dwight Eisenhower “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace”.

I’m glad I chose to cooperate with it.  I’m of the opinion that we do face an emergency, and that force will be needed to deal with it. At the same time, the only solution is cooperation. Within congress. Between congress and the President. And with Israel, who perhaps has more grounds than any other nation on earth to decide not to cooperate with others, in order to protect themselves.

I for one wish to hear what Bibi has to say. He represents a people whose clarity was forged by trusting in God, over millennia, and who, despite the Holocaust, haven’t given up on life, or on cooperation.

Plus Jamais

Plus Jamais

I’m gratified by the generally favorable attention garnered by the Je Suis Charlie Who? – aka “Onion” blog. At the same time some were puzzled and a few were angry. Two types of people responded “Quoi?”.Anti Zionist Symbol

Some found my meandering post hard to follow. Others twisted what I wrote, creating an opportunity to loudly and proudly use the “Zionist” epithet.  Many automatically lob that stone at anyone daring to discuss antisemitism.  They do so with impunity.  It is politically correct to harbor this particular brand of hate.The irony is not lost on those able to discern double standards and false equivalencies. This followup blog is an explanation to the confused and a challenge to Anti-Zionists.”

Je Suis Charlie” is a wonderful hope-filled phenomenon. But declaring to “Suis” Charlie begs the question of whether France and the Western world are committed to “Plus Jamais” (Never Again) disassociate themselves from the Jews. We need to l
ift up the onion layers donned by emperor Charlie to find out if  Je Suis solidarity will be enough to cover up France’s shame.

Shame?  What shame?

The shame that comes from having apologized for delivering Jews to the Nazis while failing to defend them from the  kinds of attackers that massacred the Charlie cartoonists. Attackers who target Jews systematically.  Deliberately. With malice, forethought, and genocidal intensity. And without provoking them with offensive cartoons.

JuifAfter the Holocaust the world exclaimed “Plus Jamais” and invited the Jews to establish a homeland called Israel in what was then called Palestine.  The Jews have been mercilessly attacked and brutally murdered for having done so. The “Je Suis” movement should have started years ago.  And it should be called “Je Suis Juif”. To those who think I’m over reacting – yesterday the Wall Street Journal ratified my onion blog.

Here’s a shout out to my friend Mike Rochelle, for pointing out the WSJ video to me! Do me, him and the world a favor – vote for his book “Lead with Love and Peace“.

And as my regular readers know, I challenge myself at the end of each blog to take a fresh look at the topic, by pulling a random Virtues Card. Today I pulled  Righteousness. The first four sentences in the lengthy description are as follows.

“Righteousness is living by a code of moral rectitude. It is practicing impeccable integrity in light of what we know is right. We don’t allow the fads of the day to sway us from doing the right thing. Nor do we stand in judgment of others.”

Wow. It brings another French word to mind. Apropos.

Even though some may judge me as standing in judgment of others. To that idea, I say “non”.  This blog merely peels off an onion layer or two, shedding light on a topic that invites us to judge ourselves. Only we know who and what we are, and whether what we say we are is true or not.


The Yellow Star

The Yellow Star

Auschwitz_outerwear_distinguish_yellow_Star_of_DavidThe book The People of the Sign is, among other things, an exploration from the inside of the Sign of the Mosaic Covenant.  The book outlines, in living detail, what it was, and what it did for the 12 tribes of Israel, which had just been freed from Pharaoh’s oppressive clutches. In a sense it placed a Yellow Star on a people destined to stand in the gap, at the End of Days.  My upcoming conclusion to the saga – The Rod of Iron – answers the questions raised by the first two volumes, especially questions related to Jewish Identity.  After 2,520 years of punishment, culminating – unfortunately – in the Holocaust, those identified by the Yellow Star would be virtually forced by these circumstances to reassemble in the Promised Land.  This fulfilled God’s divine purpose – whether they liked it or not.

Yes, you read that right.

This wasn’t known to me a the time I began writing this trilogy, but by the time I completed the manuscript this handwriting was clearly on the wall, even for those like me, who weren’t looking in that direction.  And the presence of this nation of Jews is at the center of the unraveling of an entire civilization.  Let’s look at a few examples of the madness

It is common practice to blame the refugee situation in the Arab world on Israel, but as this link clearly shows, the chronic nature of the Palestinian Refugee problem is a symptom of a broader illness, one which is not caused by having a stable Democratic Multicultural regime (Israel) in the region.  Against this backdrop of 18 million refugees, and more and more armed unrest, we have Iran pulling the nose of the West, on it’s way to armed nuclear status.  And speaking of pulling the nose of the West…

Jews excluded from kristallnachtGlobally it is becoming cool to hate Israel.  This video which portrays the threat to Jewish student leaders in the U.S. is chilling.  The resurgence of global antisemitism, which prior to WWII had its roots in Russia and Europe and as a result of the Holocaust went underground for 60 years, has resurfaced with a vengeance.  But I’m not aware of it ever having such a foothold here.  Right now it seems to be gaining ground.  Here’s another nearly unbelievable headline.  Jews are being excluded from a Kristallnacht memorial. You can’t make this stuff up.

Large segments of humanity are clearly applying the Yellow Star to the only Jewish state on the planet, which has been fighting for the right to exist since before it was born.

But the backlash against this hatred will be severe.  The People of the Sign suffered in Egypt, and their boy babies were put to death.  Moses survived, and once God acted to free them, the armies of Pharaoh were powerless to bind them again with the shackles from which they had been freed.  The modern enactment of this was more severe, more extreme.  And it is the world of Islam that today is playing the role of Pharaoh.

This short 2013 video from Jordanian TV is an example of how hatred pours forth and empowers the accelerating showdown between Islam and Israel.  IUMS Member Tareq Hawwas delivers this Antisemitic diatribe in a manner that seems calm and reasoned, starting slow and building to this mind-boggling set of unbelievably evil comments: “They have a good understanding of finances, and therefore… when they were dispersed throughout the world in the days of Hitler…  Incidentally, most of what is said about the massacre is exaggeration and lies.  If only Hitler had finished them off, thus relieving humanity of them.  But Hitler was more merciful than they are themselves.  They exploited this minor incident in order to extort the world.”

When respected “Scholars” are instructing the masses in this manner, it is not surprising that the entire region is aflame.  What is surprising is that the rest of the world allows, and even encourages the raging fire.  In the end, all of us will be sucked into that vortex in one way or another.  At that time, we should remember the song of Moses, and it’s introduction from Exodus chapter 13.  “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.”

106_Conrad_Cichorius,_Die_Reliefs_der_Traianssäule,_Tafel_CVIYellow Star or not, the People of the Sign have paid their dues.   After 2,520 years the Times of the Gentiles are ended.  As nations gather around Jerusalem with the evil intent of creating a valley of death the returning remnant of Israel need fear no evil.  The Rod of Iron will ensure that the Iron Dome will be effective.