January 4, 2017, Israel
Austria, 1938, before the Anschluss, the so called annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. A Jewish family sits down for dinner.
Austria, it always bothered me, the Jews there felt so cultured, so superior in a certain way, surely nothing bad could happen to them. Surely no harm would befall them. Austria, the illusion of safety, of acceptance.
A Jewish family sits down for dinner and again the discussion revolves around the growing sympathy among the local population for the German Nazi movement. Someone suggests that Germany might take over Austria. "Nonsense" says the father, "The Austrian nation would never allow that sort of thing to come here."
Looking back we judge them. How could such intelligent people be so stupid. The writing was on the wall. But the Jews were very comfortable, and arrogant. Years later when Austrian Holocaust survivors look back they mourn, more than anything, the loss of their life in "their Vienna", how they loved Vienna, the culture, the art, the music. They were drunk with comfort and illusions. They were not "Jews", they were "Austrians of Jewish descent".
Soon a Nazi youth attacks the mother of the Jewish family. Again the dinner discussion revolves around the "issue" and the future. Again the wise old grandfather suggests that it is time to get a Visa to America, it is time to leave Europe once and for all. But no, the father refuses.
"But your wife was just attacked!" says the grandfather. But the family responds, "It was an isolated incident".
How the foolish love to deceive themselves.
The grandfather says, "Comforting illusions we can no longer afford". True words of wisdom.
And the future, now the past, is well known to us. Two of every three Jews in Europe were murdered, but if history does not interest you let's apply this to your life.
What comforting illusions can you afford these days?
One woman is raped, well...it was no one we know. One child is bullied, or kidnapped, well, that was an isolated incidence. There was one shooting downtown, well, that was not our crowd. There was a home break - in, well, it was again, only an isolated incidence. And nothing changes. Same as it ever was.
And I ask you, in the name of the father and the grandfather and their ghosts, what comforting illusions can you afford?
Perhaps it is time to wake up and take action. Or perhaps it was all an "isolated incidence".
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