March 20, 2022, Israel
I heard a lecture about the history of Anti-Semitism in a certain European country. Personally I prefer the term, Hatred of Jews; the term Anti-Semitism is too vague, confusing and borders on being politically correct, something that I find abhorrent and morally objectionable, just speak the truth, that is correct enough. The respected lecturer did a calculation that over the hundreds of years that Jews lived in that particular country, there were anti Jewish massacres only on 4% of those days. Thus, he concluded, things were really not so bad for the Jews and he could not understand why most Jews, in particular Jews who fled from that country, held that country to be very anti Jewish. He felt the country was getting a "bad rap", an undeserved reputation for hating Jews. After all, only on 4% of the days were Jews attacked.
I find this approach shocking.
If a man killed only 14-15 people per year, (4%) would you want to live next to him? Would you allow your children to play near him?
But that is not my point.
I understand this professor, but I disagree. He might be thinking, if you had 4 years of violence, and this was followed by 96 years of peace and friendly cohabitation, is that so bad? But he is totally missing the point. I think his own life might be too happy, too comfortable, to truly understand violence, pain and fear.
I am a Krav Maga instructor precisely because I am not content, I am not so happy, I feel the pain and suffering of the world very deeply. I look at you all, see the love there that's sleeping, while my guitar gently weeps.
Violence is not just 4% of the time, this is not possible, violence is always, but as Rabbi Kahane pointed out many years ago Jew hatred only rears its ugly head when the time is right. The rest of the time it is there, but waiting, waiting. Evil walks besides us, Evil walks behind us, Evil sleeps besides us. We should recognize this.
Violence does not happen suddenly. It always has a buildup, but we refuse to see it.
My point is that violence is not random, it does not happen just 4% of the time. It is real and it is constant, but it is like a volcano; it is always there but it can erupt at any moment, and when it does, it will burn you badly.
When I say violence is always there it is like when Carl Van Clausewitz said that war and politics are on the same continuum. "War is nothing but a continuation of politics by other means." War does not emerge out of nowhere. Violence does not emerge suddenly on 4% of days. It is always there. Thus the dear esteemed professor comes across in my mind as naïve.
The hatred is there, has been there, and will be there, for a very long time. Just because it only erupts occasionally does not mean that the rest of the time is spent in idyllic fraternity. In fact the record shows that during the calm times Jews mostly lived in perpetual fear of the certain eventual erupting of violence. The fear of violence is a constant, the threat of violence is a constant.
In Rome there were long periods of non-violence towards Jews, but yet there was great persecution. Jews lived in terrible poverty in stinky confined ghettos in the worst part of town, had curfews and were forced to wear humiliating clothing, had to pay to listen to Christian preachers try to convert them on one Sunday per month, etc.. etc. This too is violence, but not physical. So the idea that 4% violence implies an otherwise happy society of quality and friendship is ludicrous.
If we relate this to Krav Maga, daily life and urban survival, it will amount to the following: The foolish will say, well, look, only XY% of the population is attacked and victimized, only 1 out of 4 women report a rape in college, home break-ins only occur X% percent of the time, so really the rest of the time, and the rest of us really have it pretty good. But they are wrong, they are delusional.
They are lazy, they don't want to train, they don't want to make an effort, so they pain a rosy picture. And then when violence erupts it is too late. Then they seek sympathy, group hugs on social media, and a political target to vent their frustrations on.
And I sit on the side and scratch my head as I listen to a Jewish professor who actually is telling us that life for Jews in Eastern Europe was "OK" most of the time.
My dear mother, may she rest in peace, told me of a relative (and now I forgot which one, and it is too darn late to ask) who visited Italy. And my mother said, that is so close to the where you grew up, in Poland, did you visit your homeland of Poland, your village? and she answered, "I did not have one happy day in all my years in Poland, why should I ever return?"
This is the truth of the history of Jewish life in Europe, and we should learn the lessons for our own lives. Violence is not a surprise. It sleeps beside us, it is just waiting for the best moment. Are you ready to deal with it?
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