November 19, 2013

Lord Sacks wonders: Why have the Jews ‘forgotten what we’re all about’?

Israel was born amid the conviction, entirely correct, more than 100 percent correct, to the core, that nobody else is going to help us and we just have to do it ourselves.

What made Israel a moral necessity is the conference at Evian in July, 1938. Thirty-four countries around the world, knowing what was going to happen to the Jewish people, gathered together to see what they could do to help, and all 34 closed their doors. That was the moment when Jews discovered that on all the surface of the earth, there was not one square inch they could call home — in the sense of the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in. So, Israel was born in a sense of isolation.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Photo credit: courtesy Core18)

[But] I wrote a whole book called “Future Tense” to say how dysfunctional I believe in the long run the phrase “A people that dwells alone” to be, because it tends to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you think you’re alone, you’ll find yourself alone.

David, I was once asked by The New Statesman who were the most influential people in my life. And I said my late father, who would rather lose a friend than compromise a principle, and my late mother, who kept all the friends my father lost. So right now the State of Israel needs a mother, you know? (Laughs)… It is clear that there is a huge cultural chasm between Israelis and Palestinians. Judaism is a guilt culture. The Palestinians have an honor and shame culture.

You know the story about Pearl Harbor and Ruth Benedict? After Pearl Harbor the Americans understood they were going to have to wage a war against an enemy they didn’t understand. So they commissioned one of their best anthropologists, Ruth Benedict. They said, please go explain the Japanese to us. So Ruth basically explained to them what is an honor culture, which is a completely foreign language to Americans. And that helped America. It didn’t help America to win the war. It helped America to win the peace.

The Americans didn’t understand, what is the Japanese emperor? He has no power at all, so for them he didn’t count. And Ruth Benedict says to them, don’t misunderstand. The emperor is the symbol of Japanese continuity, so they look to the emperor. Once you’ve won the war, you can do whatever you like to Japan so long as you keep the emperor there. So, whatever change is taking place, the Japanese look to the emperor and they say, ah, things are ok. Nothing’s changed. Because of that, the Americans were able to win the peace with Japan. They made the effort to enter in [to the Japanese mindset].

So put that in the Palestinian or Iranian context..........

Lord Sacks - Read More

No comments:

Post a Comment