Monday, February 27, 2017

Our Perspective Is Different.

As of Monday, February 27th, there have been 100 bomb threats called into Jewish communal centers (JCCs, schools, and other organizations) in 33 states and 2 Canadian provinces. 

In one of my favorite morality tales, NOTTING HILL, there is a moment when, after discovering the press gathering outside Will's front door hoping for a scoop, Anna turns to him and says, 
You're right; of course, you're right. It's just that I've dealt with this garbage for ten years now -- you've had it for ten minutes. Our perspectives are different.

What we perceive and how we perceive it obviously forms the root of out daily experience. What I perceive as a typically normal day for me other people find overwhelming. But it's not. It's my day. Our perspective is different.

When I look at the news of the day and the events of the last month, my perspective is definitely influenced by what I learned as a small child. By the time I was 6, I knew the numbers on Mrs. Wendell's arm were not her phone number. By the time I was 9, I knew the words Auschwitz and Zyklon-B. And I knew what the ghettos were. 

When I was a small child, I used to wonder how people let themselves be talked into moving into the ghetto. I didn't understand how they let themselves be herded onto cattle cars. And I didn't understand how they let themselves go into those shower rooms believing they were going to get cleaned. My kiddie brain could not grok how, if I knew what was going to happen, they did not. 

When you're little and your Hebrew school teacher is reading to your class from Leon Uris's MILA 18 along with the newspaper reports on the Eichmann trial, your perspective is forever changed. Something burns a hole inside you and your arm is invisibly tattooed with the belief, "I know this happened once, and I will not let it happen again." 

Control and discreditation of the press is the first step in establishing an authoritarian government. I've said this before and I will continue to say it. We are in that period now. The barring of the established news organs of this nation from a press conference because feckless leader doesn't like them is beyond a first step. 

The ongoing terror attacks being leveled against the Jewish community is not a tell-tale is a giant flashing neon sign, one that cannot be ignored. Wanna know why? Because this is a war of attrition. The perpetrators are targeting Jewish communal locations when they are inhabited by children and seniors, the least able to defend themselves. They will continue to do this, hoping America will get tired of Jews crying WOLF! only to blow someplace up when they think we've stopped looking. 

This is all about control and terror. It's about scaring us into thinking that if we do what they want they'll leave us alone. Well, that didn't work out so well the last time, did it?

Lodz Ghetto
It doesn't take very long to decimate a community. Let me give you an example:
  • September 8th, 1939: the German Army occupies Lodz, population 672,000; 230,000 were Jews.
  • December 10th, 1939: First order established a ghetto in Lodz
  • February 8th, 1940: Jewish residence limited to specific streets in the Old City and the adjacent Bałuty quarter, the designated ghetto area. 
  • March 5th-7th: expediting of the relocation - 350 Jews shot in and around their homes for not moving fast enough.
  • March and April, 1940: wall of fence and wire established around the ghetto area.
  • May 1st, 1940: the ghetto walls are sealed; there is to be no movement in or out. Any Jew found outside the ghetto would be shot on sight.   
  • Population of the ghetto - estimated at 164,000.
8 months. It took 8 months to round up 164,000 people and seal them into a ghetto. The rest is gruesome. You can read it here: Łódź Ghetto

Need more perspective? try Warsaw. That took a little longer - 11 months to establish the ghetto, then the liquidation of the ghetto took less than a year. But there was that pesky uprising that slowed things down a bit:
Warsaw Ghetto
  • September 28, 1939:   Warsaw surrenders. 
  • November 1939: First anti-Jewish decrees include no radios, ban on train travel, blue armbands
  • October 12, 1940: (Yom Kippur) Decree establishing Ghetto issued.
  • November 16, 1940:  Ghetto sealed off.
  • July 22 - September 12, 1942: Mass deportation of 300,000 Jews from Warsaw. 60,000 Jews remain.
  • July 23, 1942:  Adam Czerniakow, head of Judenrat, commits suicide rather than turn over Jewish children to the Germans.
  • January 18, 1943: Second wave of deportations. Beginning of armed resistance.
  • April 19, 1943: Final liquidation of Ghetto begins. Beginning of Ghetto uprising.
  • May 16, 1943: Jrgen Stroop declares: "The Jewish Quarter of Warsaw is no more!" Resistance actually continues sporadically.

The uprising lasted a month. Not very long. 

After the Kiecle pogrom - 1946
Nor sure you've had enough perspective? Try Kielce. That ghetto was established on March 31, 1941...and liquidated in three killing operations, the first one on August 20th, 1942, the last on May 23rd, 1943, when they rounded up the last of the children, 15 months to 15 years, took them out to the cemetery...and shot them all. But Kielce wasn't done. In 1946, after the war, they had their very own pogrom, on July 4th, 1946, when they rounded up Jewish refugees, killed 42 of them outright, and wounded another 40+. 

My perspective has been shaped by those facts. Those are real, well-documented, well-photographed facts. Those things happened in Poland. They happened in Germany. They happened in Austria, Hungary, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania...... Because they were Jews. That is not perspective. 

And you're gonna tell me I'm paranoid?

We all know what the German Jews did/did not do in the 1930s. We know that the rest of European Jewry did not believe Hitler would roll across the continent unstopped. 

In these here United States, no one thought feckless leader could win a primary, much less a presidential election. No one thought he could install a white supremacist as a senior advisor. Nor did anyone think he would have a national security advisor who told us feckless leader's authority is not to be questioned. 

Here's something you might not know: I was hopeful Trump would surprise us and become a president. I did not expect to agree with him about everything but I truly wanted to believe that once he was in office he would at least attempt to represent this country in a moral and adult fashion. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

I am not gonna sit around waiting to find out if I'm wrong about the other stuff. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
It is our civic duty and responsibility to question any and every elected leader of this nation. This is why democracy is so hard. Hell, if it was easy, every country would be a democracy.  But it's not. 

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