Thursday, December 22, 2005

I Am Legion,
For We
Are Many

2... (they) met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
4Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
5And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
6But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
7And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
8For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
9And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
10And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
11Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
13And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.

- Mark 5: 2-13

So it is with anti-Semitism. The spirit took up residence in Germany, and when it was confronted by America in World War II, it begged leave, and fled into a herd of swine, and is now poised to throw itself into the sea and drown.

Think on this story, as you read the following from Neo-neocon:

... the sad--and very ironic--fact is that it's no longer necessary to have Hitler's reach to be able to threaten a great number of Jews, due to the establishment of the state of Israel and the relative ease of acquiring nuclear weapons these days. Iran, of course, is very well-positioned geographically and militarily to represent a credible threat--if not now, then very soon.

Hitler had to go to great lengths to gather the Jews from their respective countries in Europe to murder them, but he was more than willing to make the effort. Today, however, thanks in great part to that effort of his, the Jews are more or less gone from Europe. They are also more or less gone from the Arab world, and from some of those non-Arab Moslem countries (such as, for example, Iran) in which they previously had a significant presence.

The upshot of it all is that the Jewish population of the Old World is now largely concentrated within the tiny confines of Israel, and if Iran gains atomic weapons it would be far easier to exterminate those Jews than it was for Hitler, although the consequences could be even graver for the world, since Israel itself has a nuclear capacity.

Many theories have been advanced over the years for the strange and enduring phenomenon known as anti-Semitism, but the one constant is that it is relatively constant, cropping up over and over in varied guises and locations, waxing and waning rhythmically, but always reliably present.

So the words of Iran's President no longer surprise me with their resemblance to Hitlerian rantings. And it's no surprise, either, that one of Ahmadinejad's themes is Holocaust denial, although one would think it could just as easily be Holocaust approval.

Holocaust denial, always reprehensible, is somehow more understandable in Europeans than in someone such as Ahmadinejad. After all, Europe bears more of the guilt for the Holocaust; therefore it stand to reason that Europeans would have more motivation to want to wash their hands of any association with the Holocaust by declaring it a fabrication of those wily and nefarious Jews.

But Holocaust denial has spread to Arab countries, and of course to Iran. The reasons are not completely clear, but it seems to go with the territory of anti-Semitism itself. After all, if one desires to hate Jews and to blame them for all manner of evil, and at the same time one imagines there's a need to be sympathetic to victims (and to elevate the Palestinians as victims extraordinaire), then the Jews have to be discredited as victims. They must have no sympathy whatsoever in order to become the villains of the piece. And to do that one must deny that the Holocaust ever occurred--so that their re-victimhood may be safely contemplated, and with a clear conscience.

It's a sad and not-too-well-known fact that the development of virulent anti-Semitism in the Arab world, a 20th century phenomenon (which Iran now seems to have "caught"), was in fact a direct result of Nazi influence in the Middle East during the 30s (see this book by Bernard Lewis on the subject).

Nazi propaganda is probably the underlying source of this sort of thing--both in the Arab world and, by a sort of contagious spread, in Iran.

The Allies who liberated the camps made some documentary films of the horrors they found there, because they felt the need to prove what had happened. Some of these films were shown at the Nuremberg trial and some were shown in movie theaters of the time:

General Dwight D. Eisenhower anticipated that future generations might find it hard to believe the horror that they found when Nazi Germany was liberated by the Allies. He ordered that both the Ohrdruf camp and the Buchenwald camp be preserved for several weeks in the state in which they were found and German civilians in nearby towns were forced to visit the camps to view the piles of rotting bodies.

American soldiers, newspaper reporters and Congressmen were also called in as witnesses to the Nazi atrocities. But it was the British who had the biggest impact on the public conscience when they released their newsreel film of Bergen-Belsen to movie theaters around the world in the last days of the war.

Eishenhower was indeed prescient when he anticipated that future generations might find it hard to believe the horror of the Holocaust. He did what he could to document it. But the need to deny seems to be stronger for many people than the evidence (when I was Googling to find information about the films of the camps, for example, a plethora of Holocaust denial sites came up).

Some deny, I suppose, because they don't want to believe such horrors are possible. But many deniers have a different purpose for their denial, and it's a Hitlerian one, I'm afraid: to demonize the Jews once again, and to try to pick up where he left off in their annihilation.

They deny because they are compelled to do so by indwelling spirit of almost absolute hatred of the Jews. Why the Jews? Why God's chosen people, of all the people on Earth? Ponder that question.